-- Two women who provided character witness statements for Brock Turner, the Stanford University swimmer convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on campus, expressed regret Wednesday for supporting the now-disgraced athlete.
Kelly Owens, who was Turner's guidance counselor when he went to Oakwood High School, near Dayton, Ohio, issued an apology Wednesday to the school district saying the letter she wrote to Judge Aaron Persky during Turner's trial was a mistake.
"In the statement I submitted to the Judge during the criminal proceedings and before sentencing referencing Brock's character, I made a mistake," she wrote. "Of course he should be held accountable. I pray for the victim, her family and all those affected by this horrible event. I am truly sorry for the additional pain my statement has caused. I tell my students they have to be accountable, and Brock is no exception."
Owens had said in her reference letter that Turner was an "exceptional student" and "a young man of character" who is "absolutely undeserving of the outcome."
Twenty-year-old Leslie Rasmussen of the indie rock band Good English, who went to school with Turner, was also a character witness. But citing widespread backlash and canceled venues, she posted on her Facebook page how she regretted supporting him.
"I did not acknowledge strongly enough the severity of Brock's crime and the suffering and pain that his victim endured, and for that lack of acknowledgement, I am deeply sorry," she wrote Wednesday evening. "I fully understand the outrage over Brock's sentencing and my statement. I can only say that I am committed to learning from this mistake. I am 20 years old, and it has never been more clear to me that I still have much to learn."
In her character statement to the court, Rasmussen blamed campus drinking culture and political correctness for Turner's inebriated life choices after two bystanders caught him in the act of assaulting a drunken, unconscious woman near some garbage bins.
Turner, 20, was convicted in the attack and sentenced to six months in jail and three years of probation by Judge Persky last week. But he's expected to be released three months early, on Sept. 2.
The judge who oversaw Turner's case has been receiving abusive and threatening phone calls after his six-month sentence caused a media frenzy, Santa Clara Public Defender Gary Goodman said.