Stanford sex assault victim becomes a powerful symbol

Sudhin Thanawala
Associated Press

San Francisco – — With her furious and graphic 12-page letter to the court, the young woman at the center of the Stanford University sexual assault case has instantly become a powerful symbol of courage and resilience to other sex-crime victims, all while remaining anonymous.

Her widely shared statement has been held up as a must-read for boys and young men and a source of strength to other women who have fallen prey to sexual assault. BuzzFeed and the Washington Post posted it online, and CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield read nearly the entire thing on the air.

In it, the woman recalled the emptiness she experienced after the attack, vented her anger over her assailant’s seeming lack of remorse and described in detail her invasive hospital examination, recounting the ruler nurses used to measure the scrapes on her body and how enough pine needles to fill a paper bag came out of her hair.

A nationwide furor erupted last week when a judge sentenced the woman’s attacker, Brock Turner, a 20-year-old former swimmer at Stanford, to six months in jail, triggering criticism that a star athlete from a privileged background had gotten special treatment.

The fury grew when it was learned that Turner’s father had sent the judge a letter lamenting that his son had already paid a steep price “for 20 minutes of action.”

Little is known about the victim other than her age — 23 — and that she wasn’t a Stanford student. She was attacked as she lay unconscious behind a dumpster in January 2015 after drinking at a fraternity party.