Vice President Joe Biden says he is furious about the sexual assault at Stanford that's sparked national outrage after the assailant got a six-month sentence, and calls the woman who wrote about her trauma a warrior "with a solid steel spine."
"I do not know your name — but your words are forever seared on my soul. Words that should be required reading for men and women of all ages," Biden says in his letter, sent to BuzzFeed on Thursday and confirmed with the vice president's office by NBC News.
Brock Turner, a 20-year-old ex-Stanford swimmer was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault of a Stanford graduate student. His six-month sentence in county jail and probation has outraged many who claim it is too lenient for the crime; documents indicate he will be released sooner.
The woman wrote a 12-page letter explaining what happened to her and how it affected her. She read it in court and it was shared by the Santa Clara County District Attorney, though the woman's name hasn't been released to maintain her privacy.
In his letter in response to hers, titled "An Open Letter to a Courageous Young Woman," Biden says he is "filled with furious anger — both that this happened to you and that our culture is still so broken that you were ever put in the position of defending your own worth.”
Biden authored the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, which created a "rape shield law" that prevents victims' past sexual conduct from being used against them in a rape trial, and has been a key figure in the White House's recent It's on Us Campaign to preventing sexual assault on college campuses.
Saying one in five women is sexually assaulted on college campuses, Biden writes that statements like the survivor's are critical in encouraging people to intervene.
"If everyone who shared your letter on social media, or who had a private conversation in their own homes with their daughters and sons, draws upon the passion, the outrage, and the commitment they feel right now the next time there is a choice between intervening and walking away — then I believe you will have helped to change the world for the better."
The woman's letter has been shared over 13 million times on BuzzFeed's website alone.
Biden also commends the two bystanders who came to the woman's rescue and those who have voiced their support for the survivor: "I join your global chorus of supporters, because we can never say enough to survivors: I believe you. It is not your fault."
Read Biden's full letter on BuzzFeed.