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CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield Reads Stanford Rape Victim’s Letter to Attacker on Air

CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield was one of many journalists to report on the former Stanford University swimmer who was sentenced to six months behind bars for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on campus. Banfield read the letter that the rape victim wrote to the athlete, Brock Turner, during her show Legal View on Monday, June 6.

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As previously reported, two Stanford University graduate students spotted Turner, a then-freshman, assaulting the woman behind a Dumpster in January 2015. Last Thursday, June 2, Turner was sentenced to six months out of a possible 14 years in state prison because the judge feared that too long behind bars would have a “severe impact” on him.

Following the decision, the victim, now 23, read a lengthy letter she’d written to Turner in court. Banfield, 48, read the emotional and powerful essay during her program.

“I am no stranger to suffering. You made me a victim. In newspapers my name was ‘unconscious intoxicated woman,’ 10 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,” the woman’s letter read. “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.”

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The woman went on to detail what it was like at the hospital after the assault, having to tell her family and how the incident changed her life.

“Right now, you do not get to shrug your shoulders and be confused anymore,” she wrote. “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.”

As previously reported, a letter written by Turner’s father, Dan, has also gone viral. He wrote to the judge that his son’s punishment was unfair and described the rape as “20 minutes of action out of his 20-plus years of life.”

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Those following the case slammed the father, but praised Banfield’s segment. “Ashley Banfield just spent the past half hour reading the Stanford rape victim’s statement live on CNN. Salute her,” one commenter wrote on Monday.

A second noted: “Ashley Banfield reading of the Stanford rape survivors letter is maybe the most powerful tv I’ve ever seen. @CNN, please widely share clip.”

Watch Banfield read the letter in the video above. Read the full letter here.

If you or anyone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). A trained staff member will provide confidential, judgment-free support as well as local resources to assist in healing and recovering, and more.

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