The Rasmussen sisters of Good English, (left to right) Celia, Elizabeth and Leslie. CONTRIBUTED

Good English band member responds to criticism of her defense of Brock Turner

The drummer of popular Dayton indie band Good English has responded to criticism of her defense of Brock Turner.

Turner, an ex-Oakwood swimmer, was unanimously found guilty by a jury in a behind-the-dumpster sexual assault of an intoxicated, unconscious woman at Stanford University in January 2015.

Leslie Rasmussen, drummer for the Oakwood-bred band, received much public criticism when it was revealed that she wrote a letter defending Turner's character to the judge handling the case.

Here is an excerpt of what she wrote:

"Brock has been a peer of mine since elementary school, and was a very close friend of mine for a few years in high school. He dated one of my very good friends, Lydia (last named removed), around the same time. In those years, he was always very respectful of everyone. Teachers, classmates, friends, and girls, all alike. He is one of those people that no one has a problem with, and is pretty much good at everything. We all knew he’d swim in the Olympics one day. 

His family is a very respectable family in town. I also know his older sister, Caroline. They all seem like such good kids brought up by two very cool and grounded parents. In all honestly, if I had to choose one kid I graduated with to be in the position Brock is, it would have never been him. I could name off 5 others that I wouldn’t be surprised about. Brock is such a sweetheart and a very smart kid. I never once caught him harassing anyone, verbally or physically. That would have been out of his character.”

Her letter went on to blame alcohol for what transpired. Shortly after the letter was made public, Good English was removed from the lineup of several upcoming shows, including the Dayton Art Music and Film Festival. 

Rasmussen responded to the criticism with a letter to the public on the Good English Facebook page, which has since been removed.
Good English Facebook statement search

She wrote:

“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."

Related:

>> In Brock Turner's hometown, we're raising kids who are never told 'no'

>> Good English: 4 things to know about Dayton band

>> When the sweet-faced kid may be the monster in the dark

X