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Stanford Sex Assault Survivor Is a Glamour Woman of the Year

The woman described for Glamour what she felt after Brock Turner was sentenced, and how excited she was when Joe Biden emailed her afterward

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    Glamour Magazine on Tuesday named a young woman at the center of the high-profile Stanford sexual assault case one of its women of the year. Michelle Roberts reports. (Published Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016)

    Glamour Magazine on Tuesday named a young woman at the center of the high-profile Stanford sexual assault case one of its women of the year.

    Without naming her, the magazine cited the impact of Emily Doe's powerful sentencing statement, which she read after her assailant was sentenced to six months in jail, as the reason for her award. The 12-page letter prompted a national conversation about "rape culture" and drinking on college campuses, as well as a recall movement against the sentencing judge and a California law requiring minimum sentences for sexual assault.

    "She could be anyone of us," said Stanford University alum Liz Quinlin. "It happens all the time on college campuses and I think a lot of people can relate to what she went through."

    Though Doe's name has not been reported, because she is the victim of sexual assault, her story reached Vice President Joe Biden, who emailed her after the trial. “You are a warrior,” Biden wrote her, in a public letter that urged everyone to believe the victims of sexual assault.

    In a companion essay in the December issue, Doe described her amazed reaction at receiving an email from the vice president: "I printed his letter out and ran around the house flapping it in the air."

    The young woman also described her frustration with the sentence that Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky handed to Brock Turner, a former Stanford swimmer convicted of sexually assaulting her after a fraternity party in January 2015.

    After a jury convicted Turner of three counts of felony sex assault, Persky sentenced Turner to six months in jail, saying a harsher sentence would have a “severe impact” on the young 22-year-old athlete, of which he only served three months for good behavior.

    Led by Stanford professor Michele Dauber, millions came out to sign papers saying that they think Persky should be recalled and is guilty of favoring "white privilege." The official campaign to recall Persky is expected to start in April. And for the first time, Emily Doe also noted in her piece that she approved of the recall effort against Persky.

    By law, Persky isn't allowed to say much about the case, but he has set up a web site to counter those efforts.

    "The justice system, including Judge Persky, needs to treat these crimes — felony domestic violence, felony assault — as the serious crimes that they are," said Dauber, who will accept the Glamour award next month on Doe's behalf.

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    On Tuesday, Dauber said how pleased she was that Glamour recognized the young woman who brought all these issues to light.

    "This award recognizes the fact that Emily Doe's letter was both a significant literary accomplishment and a significant political document," Dauber said. "As a piece of literature, it moved people and created a tidal wave of compassion and empathy for sexual assault survivors. But its real significance lies in its impact as a political document, as a declaration of the 'End of Business as Usual.' Emily opened a door. Since then survivors have declared that enough is enough."

    Still, the door opened through the legal system led to far from a perfect ending for Doe. In her essay, she said she thought the trial would set her free. In the end, she said she didn't feel that way.

    “So when it was quickly announced that he’d be receiving six months, I was struck silent," Emily Doe recounted in Glamour. "Immediately I felt embarrassed for trying, for being led to believe I had any influence. The violation of my body and my being added up to a few months out of his summer. The judge would release him back to his life, back to the 40 people who had written him letters from Ohio. I began to panic; I thought, this can’t be the best-case scenario. If this case was meant to set the bar, the bar had been set on the floor.”

    Her deeply personal statement had a major impact in America, Glamour said in its decision to make Doe a woman of the year. 

    "Emily Doe’s courageous statement was one’s of the year’s most remarkable events for women – for anybody, really, who cares about justice and the experience of sexual assault survivors,’’ Glamour editor-in-chief Cindi Leive said in a written statement to the Mercury News. “She changed how America sees this experience.’’

    Glamour’s past women of the year honorees helped select Emily Doe and the other 2016 women of the year, who include Olympic gymnast Simone Biles; Black Lives Matter founders Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi; singer and fashion designer Gwen Stefani and, for the first time, a man: Bono.

    NBC Bay Area's Michelle Roberts contributed to this report.