To Brock Turner’s Father, From Another Father

This is John Pavlovitz post. It’s a letter to a rapists father.

John is a man of honor. John’s letter will help others heal, I hope.

If you are a vicitm of rape be courageous. If you are scared read my story.

It wasn’t your fault. Rape is never the vicitms faul.


Dear Mr. Turner,

I’ve read your letter to the judge on behalf of your son Brock, asking for leniency in his rape conviction.

I need you to understand something, and I say this as a father who dearly loves my son as much as you must love yours: 

Brock is not the victim here.
His victim is the victim.
She is the wounded one.
He is the damager.

If his life has been “deeply altered” it is because he has horribly altered another human being; because he made a reprehensible choice to take advantage of someone for his own pleasure. This young woman will be dealing with this for far longer than the embarrassingly short six months your son is being penalized. She will endure the unthinkable trauma of his “20 minutes of action” for the duration of her lifetime, and the fact that you seem unaware of this fact is exactly why we have a problem.

This is why young men continue to rape women.
This is why so many men believe that they can do whatever they please to a woman’s body without accountability.
This is the reason so many victims of sexual assault never step forward.
This is why white privilege is real and insidious and usually those with it are oblivious to it.

I understand you trying to humanize your son in your letter; talking to the judge about his favorite snacks and swim practice and about the memories that are sweet for your as his father—but to be honest I don’t give a damn and if his victim was your daughter I’m quite sure you wouldn’t either.

I imagine this young woman had favorite snacks and sports too, and parents who had wonderful plans for her that didn’t include this nightmare.

There is no scenario where your son should be the sympathetic figure here. He is the assailant. He is the rapist. I can’t image as a father how gut wrenching such a reality is for you, but it is still true. 

Brock has to register as a sex offender because he sexually assaulted an incapacitated young women. This is why we have such requirements; because one vile act against another human being is one too many, because we don’t get a do-over when we do unspeakable things, because people need to be protected with knowledge of others in their midst who have failed so egregiously at respecting another person’s basic dignity.

The idea that your son has never violated another woman next to a dumpster before isn’t a credit to his character. We don’t get kudos for only raping one person in our lifetime. I don’t believe your son is a monster but he acted like one and that needs to be accounted for. To be sure, this decision is not the sum total of Brock’s life, but it is an important part of the equation and it matters deeply. 

And to be clear, Mr. Turner,”alcohol and sexual promiscuity” are not the story here. The story here, is that young men have choices to make and these choices define them, even if those choices are made when temptation is great and opportunity is abundant. In fact, our humanity is most expressed when faced with such things, we choose integrity and decency; when we abstain from doing what is easy but wrong. 

We as parents don’t control our children. Most parents understand this. Despite our best efforts to the contrary, they fail and fall and do things we’d never consent to. I certainly hope this is such an occasion, though it is not coming across that way in your letter. It feels like you want more sympathy and goodwill toward your son than you want for the survivor of his crime, and that’s simply not good enough for her or for those young men and women watching.

Here is her story.

You love your son and you should. But love him enough to teach him to own the terrible decisions he’s made, to pay the debt to society as prescribed, and then to find a redemptive path to walk, doing the great work in the world that you say he will.

For now though, as one father to another: help us teach our children to do better—by letting them see us do better.


2 thoughts on “To Brock Turner’s Father, From Another Father

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  1. Her story greatly touched me and I pray for her healing and restoration. This was a great letter, heart-felt and true; but I take issue with the “white priviledge” part. This is the current propaganda term, a label that is covering over, blaming, diverting attention away from the true culprit and his latest group to demonize. The tactic is to divide and conquer, split us into factions by those devoid of the Spirit of God. What is “SUBTLE and INSIDIOUS and those with it are oblivious” is the “trick” or “lie” from the beginning of time; the DEVIOUS, manipulative, hidden darkness controlling behind the scenes, pulling strings and blaming it on God, human beings, races, genders, ages, tribes, religions, people groups, institutions, or color of skin. That is the true source of the “sorcery,” the virus that has infected most of society giving all humans that are infected a “spirit” that is not of God with a sense of entitlement, selfish, unholy trinity of me, myself and I, an elevated opinion themselves, needing instant gratification, a big ego with a mind ruled by base reptilian instincts or over emotionally triggered limbic system cut off from our higher neocortex where reason, logic, rationality and our connection to God combine to make humans love and respect each other in righteousness, with compassion, and not blame externals like color of skin or group, but see the REAL CULPRIT, hidden behind every evil act, the enemy of our soul, the father of lies, the real adversary, the destroyer of lives, the evil one who steals peace, kills joy, and destroys relationships, the ancient one, the one who is called the devil or satan or lucifer or lilith from the world before this world was formed.
    The greatest deception and lie is that the devil does not exist. The truth is demons know Jesus and tremble; humans know ABOUT Jesus and either accept or reject him; but most humans don’t KNOW Jesus and they do not know about demons and demonic oppression and possession. If you listen closely to victims you will hear that the face of the perpetrator changes or “something comes over them”. If they knew their assailant or perpetrator before, they say the person they knew was “no longer there” and “something else had taken over.” Have you ever gone somewhere and your skin crawls and you can feel an evil presence; have you ever met someone and your inner radar goes off that something is “off” or you get a “bad vibe?”
    If we don’t know the tricks and deceptions of the enemy, the source of all evil, then how can we ever heal, be delivered and set free? It is time that we know the source of evil and stop blaming the victim or the devil’s latest propaganda. It is more than time to know the Truth, the Source of the real solution and answer to societies problems: Jesus’ God and Father who is our God and Father through Christ. When we KNOW the truth, the truth will set us all free. When we come to the Head, the rule, reign, authority and power of Christ Jesus, who has been given all power and authority in heaven and on earth, we are also given his Spirit to place evil under our feet and walk in victory and freedom and give others the antidote to the world’s darkness and evil. Get free and then help others be free. We freely receive the Holy Spirit and freely give, calling into being what does not yet exist and cursing evil so it withers and dies so it can bear no more fruit in our lives and the lives of our loved ones. If we each come to the light and bring that light to our sphere of influence, soon the world would transform.
    Blaming “white priviledge” is not getting to the source of the problem and thus never arriving at the final solution, the final answer and freedom for all human beings. May we all be led into all Truth!

    Father we thank you for showing us the root of all bitterness and evil and for providing the solution! Trauma either causes us to be bitter or better; it destroys us or we are healed and made whole and we spread the good news that set us free. We come through trauma, no longer a victim, not even a survivor, but thrive and flourish by the Holy Spirit of God. We want to shout from the rooftops what has healed, delivered and set us free! We believe and receive your Son so we can Know and Become who you created us to be: your image and likeness, not the image and likeness of the father of lies. Thank you for sending us your Holy Spirit and fire of Life so we can begin to truly live in peace, joy, love, wisdom and understanding in You. Amen.

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