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‘I hope you end up like me strong:’ Stanford sexual assault survivor named ‘Woman of the Year’

Former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner, shown in a Palo Alto, Calif., courtroom in 2015, was convicted in the sexual assault of a woman on campus.
Former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner, shown in a Palo Alto, Calif., courtroom in 2015, was convicted in the sexual assault of a woman on campus.
(Karl Mondon / San Jose Mercury News via AP)

Emily Doe’s emotional, 12-page, single-spaced letter about her attacker, former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner, resonated with sexual assault survivors, activists and lawmakers who passed legislation in California this year that expanded the definition of rape and increased penalties for offenders.

For her bravery, she was named Glamour magazine’s “Woman of the Year.”

Emily Doe, who has chosen to remain anonymous, has penned a letter to Glamour, detailing the outpouring of support she received following Turner’s sentencing.

She had read the 12-page statement in court and had felt excited about the chance to “declare I am here” during the hearing, she wrote.

But moments after, when she learned that Turner was sentenced in June to six months in jail, she was struck with silence.

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“Immediately I felt embarrassed for trying, for being led to believe I had any influence,” she said. “The violation of my body and my being added up to a few months out of his summer.”

Turner was facing a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison for sexually assaulting her behind a dumpster on campus while she was unconscious after a fraternity party. At the time, prosecutors asked Judge Aaron Persky to sentence him to six years in prison.

Persky instead sentenced Turner to county jail and three years’ probation, saying a lengthier sentence would have a “severe impact” on the then 20-year-old. The sentence was criticized for its leniency, and a campaign was launched to recall Persky from the bench. Persky later was moved to a civil court in San Jose to reduce courtroom distraction following the Turner case.

Persky’s action, Emily Doe said, “mutes the word ‘justice.’ ”

Critics said the sentence set an ominous precedent for sexual assaults on U.S. college campuses.

Santa Clara County Dist. Atty. Jeff Rosen has said Emily Doe’s letter started a “national awakening about campus sexual assaults” and “continues to grow, changing our minds and our laws.”

Her letter has been read by senators on the floor of Congress and prompted Vice President Joe Biden to write an open letter to her.

Emily Doe was sitting in her pajamas eating cantaloupe when she learned about Biden’s letter.

“You are a warrior. I looked around my room, who is he talking to. You have a steel spine, I touched my spine,” she wrote to Glamour.

Critics have tried to tear her apart with spiteful words, she said, but one stood out and “managed to lodge harmfully inside me.” She said the commenter said, “Sad. I hope my daughter never ends up like her.”

After absorbing the statement, Emily Doe wrote that she is learning to say, “I hope you end up like me, meaning, I hope you end up like me strong. I hope you end up like me proud of who I’m becoming. I hope you don’t ‘end up,’ I hope you keep going. And I hope you grow up knowing that the world will no longer stand for this. “

veronica.rocha@latimes.com

For breaking news in California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA on Twitter.


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