At the intersection of white male privilege, classism, and undelivered justice lies the case of Brock Turner — the 20-year-old recently convicted of sexually assaulting a 23-year old woman by a dumpster.
Despite being found guilty on three charges of felony sexual assault, the former Stanford student-athlete received just six months in a county (not federal) prison and probation as punishment. Yet a report has shown Turner will reportedly get out after serving just three months in jail.
It's almost impossible to see the silver lining in this case, but if you're willing to tune out the cacophony of voices defending a rapist, you will find it: Another voice has emerged to extend his support to this brave young woman, and one that knew Brock Turner personally.
In an exclusive interview with Revelist, AJ Burt, a swimmer and former acquaintance of Brock Turner, spoke candidly about the case, and his own experience with the man he now calls "the face of sexual assault in the United States of America."
"The swimming world is pretty small, and I'm from the area," Burt told Revelist. "I'm from Cincinnati, [Ohio], he's from Dayton. There are a lot of swimmers from that area and we compete against each other frequently."
The two swam the same events, and were even rivals at one point, according to Burt. "I'd encountered him on numerous occasions on the pool deck. We mostly just [had] really candid conversation."
Unsurprisingly, the now-convicted rapist seems like he never really understood what "compassion" and "decency" meant even in high school.
Burt, who is gay, said that Turner called him a "f-g" and bullied him.
"He was really not delightful to be around," Burt said.
Turner displayed unusual behavior on various swim teams, like not having much of an allegiance to anyone he swam with.
"He jumped around a lot of teams," Burt explained, "which seems menial at first. But in the sport of swimming, the time you spend around [your teammates] really means a lot, and the fact that he jumped around teams is really an indicator as well."
"He switched it up to a couple of different club teams, and at each one, he seemed to have a reputation," Turner added, citing that Turner developed somewhat of an ego when he got better at the sport.
While the two were never close, Burt and Turner were Facebook friends, which recently changed when, in light of his sentencing, Turner (or someone close to him) pulled his profile. Regardless, Burt posted a moving letter to Turner on his Facebook page, calling out his abhorrent actions, past and present:
"I just want to make a statement for myself," Burt wrote. "Before all of this, I knew I'd never forget you. Over 8 years ago, you called me a fag and formulated opinions about me before knowing who I was. Look where we are now.
The 'fag' I am knows how to treat humans, wherever they may fall on the gender spectrum, with dignity and respect, and you are the face of sexual assault in the United States of America."
Currently, Burt's post has 239 shares on Facebook — and counting.
"My hope was that it was going to mean a lot of things to a lot of people, but I didn't know that it was really going to [resonate] that much," he said. "Listening is one of the best things we can do for survivors. I gathered all of my language and thoughts by listening, not talking."
He told Revelist that looking back at his interaction with Turner, he can't help but shake his head. But he says his post about their exchange is more than that.
"This post isn't about me. It's about what many people are feeling right now, but don't have the language for."
Revelist is tracking down a spokesperson for Turner.