Former Stanford general counsel shared material from group that denies that Brock Turner, convicted by jury of sexual assault, was guilty

July 16, 2020, 9:39 p.m.

Michael Roster ’67 J.D. ’73, a former head of Stanford’s legal team, has shared material from an organization that has long denied that Brock Turner, the former Stanford student convicted of sexual assault, is guilty. Turner was found guilty of three felonies, for digital penetration of an unconscious or intoxicated person and intent to commit rape, by a jury in 2016. A panel of three judges upheld the conviction and rejected his appeal in 2018.

Roster shared documents from the group Save Our Sons (SOS), including ones entitled “Seven Big Lies In The Brock Turner Case, Plagiarism at Stanford” and “Truth in the Brock Turner Case and Recall of Judge Aaron Persky,” the Fountain Hopper (FoHo) reported earlier this month. The newsletter wrote that he had been “secretly reaching out to Stanford alumni to push conspiracy theories” about the case. Despite the legal finding of Turner’s guilt, SOS has advanced fringe ideas about the case.

Roster, the University’s general counsel from 1993 to 2000 and now a lecturer at the University of Southern California’s law school, told The Daily that he had shared material from SOS but did not confirm the specific documents. 

“The Save Our Sons website has a good collection of material that I’ve forwarded to friends and others who were similarly interested, and others have done the same,” he wrote. 

The group’s extensive material on the Turner case claims that Turner is innocent “as a matter of law” and that Stanford law professor Michele Dauber created “false stories” about the incident. Dauber has denied claims by the group.

Turner, formerly a Stanford swimmer, was convicted in 2016 of sexually assaulting Chanel Miller, who was visiting the University’s campus. His appeal was denied in 2018, with a three-judge panel upholding the conviction. The case fueled national debate over sexual assault and its relationship to Greek life and the nature of privilege in the criminal justice system. It also contributed to a broader conversation about due process in sexual assault cases, with many contemplating the legal rights of survivors versus those of alleged perpetrators.

One SOS document about the case, which Roster reportedly shared, mentions Dauber 33 times, alleging that she promoted the claim that the assault took place behind a dumpster. (SOS claims Turner and Miller were in front of the dumpster.) A sheriff’s report notes that the deputy who arrived on the scene found Miller behind it. 

SOS also claims Miller did not write her victim impact statement, which went viral in the aftermath of Turner’s trial and regained attention after the publication of Miller’s memoir, “Know My Name. SOS writes that Dauber “reportedly boasted to one or more others that she (the professor) wrote” the statement.

Roster would not be the first Stanford alum or senior University official to advance such claims. Jim McManis ’64, who served as a lawyer for former judge Aaron Persky ’84 M.A. ’85, claimed that Miller did not author her statement, saying he had a “report” that it was “written by a professional battered women’s advocate from the YWCA,” according to Vogue. (Persky sentenced Turner to six months in prison — of which Turner served only three — a sentence widely criticized as insufficient, and was recalled.) Former Stanford Vice Provost LaDoris Cordell J.D. ’94  has said she thought that Dauber was the actual author. 

Dauber, who was sent threats of rape while leading the movement to recall Persky, staunchly denies the allegations. 

“These statements are untrue, damaging, and appear to be motivated to some extent by malice,” Dauber wrote in a statement to The Daily. “As to Miller’s victim impact statement, I did not write a single word of it and never ‘boasted’ or otherwise stated that I had. That is flatly untrue and it is furthermore deeply insulting to Miller, who used her impact statement and later her best selling and award winning book to recover her voice and agency, which had been taken from her by Brock Turner, the legal system, and Stanford.”

Miller first read her statement aloud to Turner during the 2016 trial. In 2019, after publicly revealing her identity, she read the entire statement on CBS’ “60 Minutes.” Miller also addresses her life after her victim statement went viral in her memoir, which was published in 2019.

Representatives from Miller’s communications team did not respond to The Daily’s request for comment. 

SOS founder Alice True wrote that “There is more than one point of view,” adding that “The documents stand for themselves.” 

Roster did not respond to a question regarding whether he was personally involved in developing SOS material. He wrote that “something like 50 to 100 alumni and non-alumni have contributed to the articles posted at SOS.”

According to data on Stanford’s reported sexual assaults and adjudications that Dauber shared on Twitter and discussed during a 2013 Faculty Senate meeting, no cases were adjudicated by Judicial Affairs under Roster’s tenure from 1997-2000, though 75 reports were made during those four years. Roster declined to comment on these findings. 

Dauber called the involvement of Stanford affiliates in challenging the outcome of the Turner case “shocking and shameful, but not surprising.”

The University did not respond to The Daily’s request for comment.

This article and its headline have been updated to include more information on the legal adjudication of the case and the conviction, as well as the location in which Miller was found. This article has also been updated to include more information on the issuance of threats in the campaign to recall Persky and more context on the advancement of fringe ideas about the case.

Contact Georgia Rosenberg at georgiar ‘at’ 

Georgia Rosenberg is the Vol. 261 executive editor for print. She was previously a Vol. 260 news managing editor and a Vol. 258/259 desk editor for university news. Contact her at grosenberg 'at'!

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