CNN's Ashleigh Banfield Reads Stanford Rape Survivor's Statement in Full on Air
"You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today," reads the letter.
Last Thursday, former Stanford University student Brock Turner was sentenced to six months' imprisonment and probation for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. The rape survivor read a powerful statement she wrote at his sentencing, and the letter quickly went viral after being published on BuzzFeed.
Ashleigh Banfield read the impactful letter, which directly addresses Turner, in its entirety on CNN on Monday. The case has received much media attention over the past week because of the letter and the six-month sentence, which many see as far too lenient for someone convicted of three felonies, including assault with intent to rape. The judge said he feared prison would have a "severe impact" on Turner, 20.
"I am no stranger to suffering. You made me a victim," the young woman's statement reads. "In newspapers my name was 'unconscious intoxicated woman,' ten syllables, and nothing more than that. For a while, I believed that that was all I was. I had to force myself to relearn my real name, my identity. To relearn that this is not all that I am. That I am not just a drunk victim at a frat party found behind a dumpster, while you are the All American swimmer at a top university, innocent until proven guilty, with so much at stake. I am a human being who has been irreversibly hurt, my life was put on hold for over a year, waiting to figure out if I was worth something."
Banfield solemnly read the letter, receiving much praise online for dedicating so much of her show, Legal View, to the story.
"And then, at the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times," the statement continues. "She was found breathing, unresponsive, with her underwear six inches away from her bare stomach, curled in fetal position. By the way, he’s really good at swimming. Throw in my mile time if that’s what we’re doing. I’m good at cooking, put that in there, I think the end is where you list your extracurriculars to cancel out all the sickening things that’ve happened."
In the statement, the survivor details the profound struggle she's endured in the wake of the assault, including having to answer deeply personal questions about herself and aggressive tactics used by Turner's defense attorney. She chides Turner for downplaying the assault as a case of college drunkenness.
"Right now, you do not get to shrug your shoulders and be confused anymore," the survivor said. "You do not get to pretend that there were no red flags. You have been convicted of violating me, intentionally, forcibly, sexually, with malicious intent, and all you can admit to is consuming alcohol. Do not talk about the sad way your life was upturned because alcohol made you do bad things. Figure out how to take responsibility for your own conduct."
Some of CNN's Ashleigh Banfield reading the Stanford rape victim's statement in its entirety. Astounding. https://t.co/FVbqtDuzc1— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) June 6, 2016
For just a moment, I forgot about the campaign and was just in awe of what was happening on CNN. Thank you @CNNAshleigh— Zerlina Maxwell (@ZerlinaMaxwell) June 6, 2016