As the legal debacle surrounding the actions and sentencing of Brock Turner continue to unfold, there is clearly collateral fallout for one musician and her band as it relates to Turner. Turner, the 20 year old Stanford swimmer who was convicted in March of intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person, apparently asked a member of an indie band, Good English, to write a character letter to the sentencing judge on his behalf.
Turns out the drummer for Good English, Leslie Rasmussen, who is 20 and was also a longtime friend of Turner, wrote the following in a letter to the court in favor of the now convicted swimmer:
“Brock is not a monster. He is the furthest thing from anything like that, and I have known him longer than the people involved in this case.
I don’t think it’s fair to base the fate of the next 10-plus years of his life on the decision of a girl who doesn’t remember anything but the amount she drank to press charges against him. I am not blaming her directly for this, because that isn’t right.
But where do we draw the line and stop worrying about being politically correct every second of the day and see that rape on campuses isn’t always because people are rapists. It is because these universities market themselves as the biggest party schools in the country.”
Below is a copy of the entire letter penned by Rasmussen:Needless to say with all the societal backlash to the Turner story and his sentencing Rasmussen herself also came under serious fire for supporting Turner with collateral damage reaching her band via show cancellations. Rasmussen subsequently issued the following statement in the hopes of containing the damage done by her supportive statement on Turner’s behalf:
“Two months ago, I was asked to write a character statement for use in the sentencing phase of Brock Turner’s trial. Per the request of the court, I was asked to write this statement in an effort to shed light on Brock’s character as I knew it to be during my childhood, adolescence and young adulthood when I interacted with him as a classmate and friend. I felt confident in my ability to share my straightforward opinion of him and how I knew him. I also felt compelled to share my deep concern over the misuse of alcohol that was a well-established contributor in this case. Beyond sharing my personal experience with Brock, I made an appeal to the judge to consider the effect that alcohol played in this tragedy.
I understand that this appeal has now provided an opportunity for people to misconstrue my ideas into a distortion that suggests I sympathize with sex offenses and those who commit them or that I blame the victim involved. Nothing could be farther from the truth, and I apologize for anything my statement has done to suggest that I don’t feel enormous sympathy for the victim and her suffering.
Perhaps I should have included in my statement the following ideas that explain my perspective on the complexities of what may have happened. As a young female musician who has spent years (since I was in fourth grade) performing as a drummer in live music venues, clubs, and bars with my two sisters, I have had the unique opportunity to observe over 10 years of public American drinking culture and the problems that invariably arise through alcohol misuse. I have watched friends, acquaintances and complete strangers transform before my eyes over the course of sometimes very short periods of time, into people I could barely recognize as a result of alcohol over-consumption. I am currently 20 years old. I have made these observations through sober eyes. I have been repeatedly reminded by my family and coached by police to hold my personal sobriety closely and seriously because of the industry I work in and the risks to my own life that I could face as a young woman playing regularly in venues across the country where alcohol is served.
Additionally, I have grown up and currently reside in a university town that is affected every year by the tragic consequences resulting from undergraduate students’ excessive enthusiasm for binge drinking. Student arrests, violence, injuries, and sexual assaults occur with some regularity, and I have often wondered why this culture continues to thrive seemingly unquestioned and unchecked.
There is nothing more sad than the unnecessary, destructive and enormous toll that overuse, misuse and abuse of alcohol and drugs play in people’s lives, and I don’t think my effort to point this out in confidence to a judge while commenting on Brock Turner’s character, as the sober person I knew him to be, was an irresponsible or reckless decision. Unfortunately, due to the overzealous nature of social media and the lack of confidence and privacy in which my letter to the judge was held, I am now thrust into the public eye to defend my position on this matter in the court of public opinion. Now, my choices to defer college to write and play music, to finally introduce 10 years of hard work to a national audience while working consistently and intentionally on my own personal and professional integrity, has led to an uproar of judgement and hatred unleashed on me, my band and my family.
I know that Brock Turner was tried and rightfully convicted of sexual assault. I realize that this crime caused enormous pain for the victim. I don’t condone, support, or sympathize with the offense or the offender. I was asked by a court in California to provide a character statement as a standard and necessary part of the sentencing process. I believe that Brock’s character was seriously affected by the alcohol he consumed, and I felt that the court needed to consider this issue during their sentencing deliberations.”
Despite the “clarification” of Rasmussen’s position, the damage had already been done. Good English has since been banned from playing various events and shows. Consider this Tweet from an event host in Brooklyn, New York:
Due to recent information brought to our attention, Good English is no longer playing Northside Festival.
— Northside Festival (@NorthsideFest) June 7, 2016
Also check out this Facebook posting by the Dayton Music Art & Film Festival:
The fallout so far for Good English has been the cancellation of 5 shows in Brooklyn and one in Dayton, Ohio, the band’s home base. Furthermore, Rasmussen and her sisters Elizabeth and Celia had just released their second album in March. Whether record sales will be affected or not remains to be seen but judging from the firestorm that has erupted over Rasmussen’s support for Turner that would suggest that the band could suffer in that department as well. For the time being the Dayton, Ohio, based band has also shut down or removed much of its social media presence.