HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A former University of Southern Mississippi professor received several threats through social media after she was mistaken as a friend of Brock Turner, the Stanford University student who was recently sentenced to six months in jail for sexually assaulting another university student.
Leslie Rasmussen is now a professor of communications at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio.
On Monday, Rasmussen said she received a disturbing message on her work email.
"The first one I received in my work email said, 'I hope that you're never found unconscious and that somebody jumps on you and rapes you.'"
Rasmussen said the email prompted her to contact Xavier University Police.
Soon after, one of her former students sent her an article.
"Brace yourself this person has the same name as you. And then a minute later, I had two nasty tweets and thought, I understand what this is about," Rasmussen said.
The Xavier University professor has the same name and spelling as Leslie Rasmussen, a young woman who wrote a letter to defend her friend, Brock Turner.
The young Rasmussen wrote in her letter:
Rasmussen said when she woke up the next day, she received countless messages on Twitter and Facebook.
"The real disturbing ones asked about my daughter," Rasmussen said. "Things about when my daughter is raped. It's almost hard to talk about."
One tweet read:
"Don't give birth to females… KARMA!! Maybe at the hands of your friend, once a deviant always a freak! You enjoy his rape? "
Rasmussen teaches college students how to use social media as a part of her curriculum.
"I study social media and I try to tell myself, separate yourself from all of this," Rasmussen said. "This is not personal against you Leslie Rasmussen, this is how people behave on social media. It's not right, but it's just what seems to happen."
Rasmussen explained the negative effects of social media and how it can lead to things such as cyber bullying.
"Another thing that bothered me with all these people attacking me as though they are allegedly anti-rape movement, what if I was a victim of sexual assault?" Rasmussen said. "They have re-victimized me by harassing me. I am the wrong person, but it still doesn't make it right."
Rasmussen said people should try to spread awareness and educate others about rape instead of attacking the young woman who actually wrote the letter.
"What I really find disturbing about this is the Leslie Rasmussen that wrote that letter is a 20-year-old girl," Rasmussen said. "She is probably in college somewhere and doesn't understand that what happened was in fact rape. And she can't be the only one out there."
Letter written by 20-year-old Leslie Rasmussen: