Initially, Chanel Miller did not want the world to know her name. If the world didn’t know her name, it would mean that she had never been found half-naked behind a Stanford University dumpster “with her underwear six inches away from her bare stomach.” It would mean that she had never been sexually assaulted by a stranger.
She never would have found herself addressing that man, Brock Turner, at the court hearing where he was sentenced to six months in county jail for attacking her while she was unconscious.
“You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me,” Miller told him, “and that’s why we’re here today.”
Miller’s searing victim impact statement, delivered in June 2016, sent shock waves across a country not accustomed to hearing sexual assault victims address their attackers in court. At the time, she was known only as 23-year-old “Emily Doe.” But Miller has come forward now to reveal her identity ahead of the release of her memoir, “Know My Name,” on Sept. 24.
She spoke with CBS News’s “60 Minutes,” which released a video of Miller reading part of her victim impact statement publicly for the first time. CBS is scheduled to air the full interview Sept. 22.
“In newspapers, my name was ‘unconscious intoxicated woman,’ 10 syllables, and nothing more than that,” Miller said in the excerpt she read in the CBS video. “For a while, I believed that that was all I was. I had to force myself to relearn my real name, my identity. To relearn that this is not all that I am.”
Turner, who at the time of the assault was a freshman at Stanford and a member of the varsity swimming team, was found guilty on three counts of felony sexual assault for the Jan. 18, 2015, incident outside a fraternity party. California judge Aaron Persky sentenced Turner to six months in jail, but because of good behavior he served only three.
Critics decried what they viewed as Persky’s leniency, while the judge said he was obligated to consider rehabilitation and probation for first-time offenders such as Turner. Many people criticized the sentence as too small a price to pay, given the magnitude of the crime. Voters ousted Persky, a judge in Santa Clara County, after a recall campaign last year.
Miller, a recent University of California at Santa Barbara graduate at the time, had gone to the fraternity party with her younger sister on the night of the assault, she said in her victim impact statement. She let her guard down, she said, and drank liquor too fast without recognizing that her tolerance had waned since her college days.
What she remembers next was waking up on a gurney in a hospital hallway, Miller said, and being told that she had been assaulted. But she learned the details of what had happened to her the way the rest of the world did — reading the news on her phone while at work.
“You have dragged me through this hell with you, dipped me back into that night again and again,” Miller told Turner at the sentencing hearing. “You knocked down both our towers. I collapsed at the same time you did. Your damage was concrete, stripped of titles, degrees, enrollment. My damage was internal, unseen. I carry it with me.”
Miller’s memoir will be published by Penguin Random House, whose website describes Miller as a San Francisco resident and a writer and artist who studied literature in college.
“The damage is done. No one can undo it,” Miller told Turner in court. “And now we both have a choice. We can let this destroy us, I can remain angry and hurt and you can be in denial, or we can face it head on — I accept the pain, you accept the punishment, and we move on.”