Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Tuesday 7 June 2016

Twenty Minutes of Action

It’s possible to do all sorts of things in twenty minutes. It’s possible to walk a mile, comfortably, to eat a meal or have a conversation, to meet someone new, to drive twenty miles, to buy a dress or  read a magazine. It’s even perfectly possible to fall asleep in twenty minutes.

I wonder how far Brock Turner could swim in twenty minutes.

Of course it’s possible to pull the trigger of a gun in a fraction of a second, a mugging might take only moments, and I doubt it takes twenty minutes to rob a bank at gunpoint.

Everyone’s talking about Brock Turner. He was sentenced to six months in gaol for violently raping a woman while she was unconscious.

His father, Dan Turner stood before the judge to ask for leniency. He didn’t want his son to go to gaol. He said that his child should not be sent to prison for

Twenty minutes of action.

I realise that I am not alone in being appalled by this; the Twitterverse and the news media are full of comments and conversation about Dan Turner’s statement. Many of us feel that Brock Tuner’s punishment is far too lenient.

Turner was convicted on three counts of sexual assault. He raped a young woman in a public place, behind a dumpster after a frat party. He was discovered by two men, who were so horrified by what they witnessed that they chased Turner away from the scene of his crime.

The victim was hospitalised. She only became fully aware of the assault when she regained consciousness and had to deal with her injuries and the legal aftermath.

A family friend of the Turners allegedly set up a FaceBook page with a plea for donations to help pay for Turner’s legal fees. 

In court, Turner excused the rape, blaming alcohol and its effects. He claimed the victim consented and called it an act of promiscuity driven by alcohol.

The rape was barbaric. Turner never admitted the rape, even after being found guilty by a unanimous jury vote of all three counts.

If we teach our children anything it should be that their actions have consequences, and that those consequences must be faced and accepted. When our children do wrong it is not our job to excuse them, it is our job to punish them or to stand beside them while they take their punishment. It is our duty to raise our children to be honest and to be respectful of others… and that includes women.

This was not twenty minutes of action. This was rape. There can be no excuse and no mitigation. Dan Turner has failed utterly in his duty to his son.

More than that, I suspect that Dan Turner is at least partly responsible for his son’s actions.

The Turners are white, middle-class Americans. Brock got a place at a good university and was a competitive swimmer. There is a picture on the internet of Dan Turner with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (Strom Thurmond’s successor to the South Carolina seat).

Brock Turner could have received a six year gaol sentence for his crimes. The mitigating circumstances (remember him blaming his actions on alcohol leading to a culture of promiscuity?), his background, and the fact that he had gained a place at a good school, along with his swimming credentials, caused the judge to hand down a six months custodial sentence.

None of our actions happen in a vacuum. We learn right from wrong and we make choices.We belong to a culture, to a place, to a family. We are educated.

Despite his privilege, or because of it, Brock Turner felt entitled to rape an unconscious woman. He feels entitled still, and his father shares that entitlement. Had there been any recognition or realisation of what he had done, Turner would surely have shown some remorse. Had his father come to any realisation he would have shown shame, guilt, even despair that he had failed his son and his son’s victim so completely.

We all know that we live in a society that despises women, but I feel that this can only have been reinforced in the Turner household. There is no way to know what goes on behind closed doors. There is no way to know how the women of the household are valued or respected. I can’t help thinking that if they were valued and respected, that respect would extend to all women, and Brock Turner would not have raped.

That Brock Turner did rape and that his father offered mitigation and requested leniency in court, only proves that Dan Turner feels nothing more than contempt for the victim, and, by extension, contempt for all women.

Brock Turner has a mother and a grown-up sister. I have seen no reports of any comments they might have made about the rape. Women who are disempowered by the men in their lives and by a patriarchal society suffer from low self-esteem and a good deal of fear. Perhaps it isn’t surprising that the Turner women have nothing to say on the matter.

There are plenty of women who have a great deal to say, including the victim, who made this statement in open court.

Brock Turner is to appeal his conviction. He has employed Dennis Riordan, nicknamed ‘The Last Hope’. Riordan is one of California’s foremost appellate lawyers. 

I wonder how much fundraising friends of the Turner family will need to do to pay his fees.

The Rape Crisis Centre offers support to survivors of sexual violence, and to their friends and families


  1. Broken parents with broken kids huh...

  2. It transpires that Mrs Turner did in fact write a letter to the judge before sentencing in Brock Turner's case. Here's the transcript: I may have given the woman too much credit...