Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Emotions Raw in Hometown of Man in Stanford Assault Case

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Emotions Raw in Hometown of Man in Stanford Assault Case

Article excerpt

OAKWOOD, Ohio * Sadness over a hometown boy's fall. Anger at a perceived light sentence for a brutal crime. Disgust with an international spotlight.

Emotions are running high in this wealthy suburban town after intense scrutiny of a six-month sentence handed down to a former star student-athlete convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman in California.

The case against Brock Turner a student athlete at Stanford University at the time of the assault has gripped people where he grew up and observers across the country, with letters to a judge from his family and friends drawing outrage from critics who say they are shifting blame from a 20-year-old man who won't take responsibility for his actions.

Now the unwanted attention is highlighting what some say are cracks in the idyllic image of Oakwood, Ohio, which some locals dubbed "The Dome." The suburb of Dayton is known for a high standard of living with good schools and low crime rates. But some say that's a veneer for underlying social problems, now exposed by the wrongdoing of a once-favored son.

Many people who went to high school with Turner have supported him online, posting that he was a good kid and lamenting the fact that he wouldn't make it to the Olympics.

Backlash against those comments and others have made some people here nervous to speak publicly about Turner, his family or the town's reputation. A childhood friend and a high school guidance counselor later apologized for writing letters of support urging leniency.

Mark Otto, 19, was a grade behind Turner at Oakwood High School. Though the two weren't friends, they shared some classes together.

"My school and my town are known for being quintessential and perfect and nothing bad ever happens and there is no crime," said Otto, who now lives in New York.

But troubles with alcohol and drugs were just beneath the surface, Otto said.

California prosecutors cited several examples of Turner's using hard drugs and alcohol in high school and during his four months at Stanford. Text messages recovered from his cellphone showed Turner discussing using LSD and ecstasy and smoking marijuana and dabs of butane hash oil, known as "wax," according to court documents. …

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