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US rape victim's letter moves millions of people

In contrast, statement by defendant's father about '20 minutes of action' fuels outrage

STANFORD UNIVERSITY RAPE VICTIM'S OPEN LETTER TO ATTACKER

"You don't know me, but you've been inside me, and that's why we're here today."

Facing her attacker in the courtroom, the 23-year-old woman read aloud from a 12-page letter, recounting her ordeal in her own words.

The powerful statement, which was published online and read more than five million times, has fuelled debate on the rape case that has gripped the United States, after a controversial verdict was passed.

Former Stanford University student Brock Turner, 20, was sentenced on June 2 to six months in jail for sexually assaulting the intoxicated and unconscious victim behind a dumpster after a campus party in January last year. The unidentified victim was not a Stanford student but was visiting the campus.


Turner, 20, was
 sentenced to six
 months in jail
for his attack,
 triggering
outrage among
those who felt it
 was too lenient.

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The sentencing has triggered outrage among those who felt it was too lenient and prompted calls and online petitions to remove the judge. It has also put the spotlight on rape at US college campuses.

More than one in six women are raped during their first year at university while they were too drunk or drugged to fend off their attacker, according to one study.

In the letter published by online media outlet BuzzFeed, the victim detailed the emotional journey she went through - from confusion to fear to depression to anger - when her attacker alleged that the incident was consensual.

The woman, who could not recall what happened during the assault, described how she felt when she was told that she could have been raped. "I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else."

She revealed that she learnt about the details of that night only when she came across a news article.

"This was how I learnt what happened to me, sitting at my desk reading the news at work. I learnt what happened to me the same time everyone else in the world learnt what happened to me."

She added: "I kept reading. In the next paragraph, I read something that I will never forgive; I read that according to him, I liked it. I liked it."

In the letter, she said Turner, a champion swimmer, was not punished severely enough because the authorities considered the disruption to his studies and athletic career at a prestigious university when determining his sentence.

She wrote: "Your damage was concrete; stripped of titles, degrees, enrolment. My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me."

There was an outpouring of support for the victim after the letter was published.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, for instance, posted a live video on his Facebook page of several people, including his wife Chirlane McCray, reading the letter.

In contrast, a statement from the attacker's father, which was made public, added to the outrage.

Defending his son in a letter to the judge, Mr Dan Turner described the assault as "20 minutes of action".

"His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20-plus years of life," he wrote.

In the letter, he dwelt on the "devastating impact" on his son, who will "never be his happy-go-lucky self"; how Turner, who likes ribeye steak, now "eats only to exist"; and how the verdict has "broken and shattered him and our family".

That prompted a response from US Vice-President Joe Biden. In a letter addressed to the victim published on BuzzFeed last Thursday, he wrote: "You will never be defined by what the defendant's father callously termed '20 minutes of action'. His son will be."

CLINTON TO TRUMP: DELETE YOUR ACCOUNT

 "Delete your account
Shortly after Mrs Clinton (above) was endorsed by Mr Obama as the Democratic presidential nominee last Thursday, she got a ringing endorsement from Twitterverse, which applauded her snarky tweet to her Republican rival, Mr Trump: "Delete your account." PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

It was a day to celebrate for Mrs Hillary Clinton.

Shortly after US President Barack Obama officially endorsed her as the Democratic Party presidential nominee last Thursday, she got a ringing endorsement from Twitterverse which applauded her snarky tweet to Republican rival Donald Trump: "Delete your account."


Shortly after Mrs Clinton was endorsed by Mr Obama as the Democratic presidential nominee last Thursday, she got a ringing endorsement from Twitterverse, which applauded her snarky tweet to her Republican rival, Mr Trump (above) : "Delete your account." PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Mr Trump had commented on how "Obama just endorsed Crooked Hillary".

The well-executed smackdown sent her hip quotient up a few notches. The phrase, made popular in Twitterverse, translates roughly as "your tweet is so bad/rude/not funny that you should just shut down your account".

That became the most-shared tweet of her campaign, with more than 380,000 retweets.


Shortly after Mrs Clinton was endorsed by Mr Obama as the Democratic presidential nominee last Thursday, she got a ringing endorsement from Twitterverse, which applauded her snarky tweet (above) to her Republican rival, Mr Trump : "Delete your account." TWITTER/HILLARY CLINTON

A Twitter user wrote: "Clinton just unleashed the best tweet of the campaign."

Time magazine was won over: "Hillary Clinton proved once again that she can hang with the hip young things."

News site Vox jumped in, suggesting that "it might actually be a good idea" for Mr Trump, known for his outrageous statements on Twitter, to delete his account.

According to reports, Mr Trump dictates exactly what he wants to say on Twitter, right down to the punctuation mark, and an employee types out the message and posts it - if it is during office hours. After 7pm, he writes his own tweets.

For Mrs Clinton, 68, the endorsement from Twitterverse was a small victory for someone who has struggled to connect with young voters - even though it was confirmed later that the tweet was written by a young staffer.

Mr Trump, however, was quick to hit back at Mrs Clinton, reminding voters of how she had flouted security protocols by using a private e-mail server while she was secretary of state.

He tweeted: "How long did it take your staff of 823 people to think that up - and where are your 33,000 e-mails that you deleted?"

Wonder what's next in the Twitter war. Emojis?

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 12, 2016, with the headline 'US rape victim's letter moves millions of people'. Print Edition | Subscribe