An Open Letter To The HEROES Who Stopped The Stanford Rapist

Photo: Flickr CC/Andreas Kambanis
stanford rape story heroes

Thank you for reminding us that there are still some good men left.

Dear Peter Jonsson and Carl-Fredrik Arndt,

I want to thank you. Most people don't know your names yet, but they should. Because you are the heroes our society so desperately needs. 

Sure, it was random. You didn't plan on becoming heroes that night, or stopping a rape.

You two were just out riding your bikes. 

According to police reports, at first you thought the movement by the dumpster was an amorous moment between a consensual couple, but as you rode past, something didn't seem right. 

So you stopped and went back. You noticed that the young woman wasn't moving, but he was. 

You yelled, "HEY!" and the light-haired white man ran away, leaving the victim motionless on the ground. 

You were probably scared, but you ran after him anyway, eventually tripping him, tackling him, and holding him there until the police arrived.

You may have saved her life. We don't know what Brock Turner, former Stanford swimmer, would have done to the woman he chose to assault that night, who was too inebriated to consent, and unconscious by the time you saw her. But there's no doubt in most people's minds that you stopped what was probably only going to get much, much worse. 

You are both heroes. Not just to the survivor, who now keeps pictures of two bicycles taped above her bed to remind her of the goodness in the world, but to us. All of us who were starting to lose hope in humanity, especially in men.

Even Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Alaleh Kianerci agrees, saying, "I can’t understate how important those two heroes were in this case.”

As Tyler Kinkdade explained on HuffPost, "Few reports of sexual assault ever lead to prosecution, let alone prison time. Between 8 and 37 percent of rapes result in prosecution, according to one study funded by the Department of Justice. National estimates suggest that for every 100 rapes, only five rapists will go to prison."

But this one was arrested, tried and found guilty. Sure, he was given a pathetically short sentence, as a result of the judge identifying more with the perpetrator than the victim. 

But that doesn't undo the good thing you two did that night.

Sadly, it affected you deeply.

You couldn't tell the police the story without crying.

According to their report. "It should be noted that several times throughout giving his statement, Jonsson became very upset, to the point where he began crying while recounting the incident. He had to stop and take several deep breaths before being able to resume giving me his statement."

I'm sorry you had to experience that. I hope you're getting the support you need, even still today, as these awful memories are being brought back to the forefront. 

But ultimately, I'm grateful.

So thank you. 

Thank you for being different.

Different from all those boys in Steubenville who let the same thing happen to another woman, one even younger.

Thank you for being different from the men who never tried to stop Jerry Sandusky from abusing boys over dozens of years. So many men knew. None were as brave as you.

Thank you for not being like the athletes who sit by and watch their teammates rape other boys in locker rooms in the name of "hazing" and let them get away with it. Like in Philadelphia, Tennessee, Washington, Vermont and more. Just in the last few years.

Thank you for being different from all the men who knew Kitty Genovese was being attacked, and let her get murdered. It was a long time ago, but she is the woman who prompted our understanding of The Bystander Effect. What if someone had been like you two, and helped her? She probably would've survived. 

Thank you for not being like the brothers of Phi Kappa Tau who sat by and said nothing as their social chair sent out a directive on "luring your rape bait" into sex at parties.

Thank you for not being like the boys I grew up with, whom I never saw stand up for a girl being targeted or harmed. 

Thank you for not being like all the boys and men who choose bro code over doing what's right.

Thank you for restoring our faith in humanity.

Thank you for reminding men what it looks like to be good. What GOOD men look like.

Thank you, Peter and Carl, for being heroes that night. 

It's probably not a coincidence that you are Swedish. Perhaps America can learn something. We need to decide to raise our kids with the values you very obviously have.

Now we have a story to tell our sons about how an average man can change the world for someone by doing what's right, even when it's hard.





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