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Victim AND rapist need our prayers

Original post made by Ann, Crescent Park, on Nov 3, 2007

Both the victim and the rapist are young kids. The school age victim should be applauded for her courage and receive our prayers as she begins to heal from this
Traumatic event.

The rapist, instead of being the boggy man, is a member of our community too. He is a product of our “outstanding” school district. Where did we fail this young man? Is too much emphasis placed on academic performance and entrance to an Ivy League school?
Did the school district prepare him for the world he just entered as an adult? He and his family needs our prayers as well.

Comments (31)

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Posted by Susan
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 3, 2007 at 3:14 pm


You are right. It is our fault for providing him access to our good and competitive schools. If only we would eliminate AP courses and adjust to a lowest common denominator, this kid would not have attacked this girl.

Brilliant, Ann.

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Posted by Tina
a resident of another community
on Nov 3, 2007 at 3:28 pm

Yeah, I'm praying for the rapist. Praying he gets the maximum allowable punishment for what he has done so he can never again terrorize another woman. I have no sympathy for this monster and it is hard for me to believe anyone would.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2007 at 3:41 pm

Ann, I agree with you.

I was horrified when I discovered that the guy who supposedly did this was not what we expected, but a 20 year old (no more than a kid himself) and a Paly grad. It is dreadful to think that someone so recently in our schools is able to behave like this in such a short time after being one of our own.

Something, somewhere, failed for him. I know that he was not a lost cause from the start, as no one starts out this way, something has to start it off. What we continually call the achievement gap in our schools is failing some of our kids. For those who are not the stereotypical PA student, we have to make sure that they still get the grounding they need to turn into decent members of our society and not feel the failures that perhaps turn them into what this poor ex-student appears to have done.

I have no idea of his family background, but I do feel for them in all this. So many families work so hard to get their kids into PA schools thinking that it will be best for them. It is possible that they are suffering in a way that we can't imagine.

It goes without saying that my prayers and concern for the victim and her family are offered undoubtedly.

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Posted by peter
a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 3, 2007 at 4:15 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by Kirk
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 3, 2007 at 4:32 pm

Parent and Ann,

This perp was an adult. No excuses, even Palo Alto excuses. If found guilty, he will go to the pen, not CYA.

Maybe he has bad genes. Maybe he has a bad background. Doesn't matter. He either did it or he did not. If he did it, it is 100% on him, not on our school system.

What a shame that the excuses are starting, similar to those who made excuses for the Columbine perps. There are no excuses.

Very sad that we are being targeted with this misplaced guilt. Shame on you.

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Posted by unbelievable
a resident of another community
on Nov 3, 2007 at 4:57 pm

Would you please wait until he is found guilty before you decide his fate?

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Posted by Roll eyes
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2007 at 4:59 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by julie
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 3, 2007 at 5:07 pm

What is interesting in this story is that no one is claiming he did notdo it.

In the SJMN interview with his parents even they talk about him as guilty.

The PAPD obviously feel they have compelling evidence--- is it

DNA--- OJ got out of that. I do not think I have ever seen a case where the verdict is unanimous from all sides so early.

I guess Jackson and Sharpton wont be coming to town after all awe shucks

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Posted by Ex Paly Mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 3, 2007 at 8:38 pm

I too feel somehow sorry for the perpetrator (and his family), even though the bulk of my sympathy goes to his poor victim. I read how he grew up moving from homeless shelters to apartments, with his family. A precarious lifestyle, apparently couple with learning disabilities.

However, I take issue with the suggestion that our school system failed him. I believe that it is naive to believe that ANY school system can be successful with 100% of its student population. There will always be individuals that even the best help and the most plentiful resources won't be enough to turn into independent, self-reliant, productive members of society. So, starting to blame PAUSD regarding the fate of Burpee is premature in my opinion.

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Posted by paly mom
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 3, 2007 at 9:30 pm

I have more sympathy for people with sob stories about homeless shelters and learning disabilities who DONT grow up to be rapists than those who do.

Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 4, 2007 at 1:40 am

The initiation of violence against someone else is never excused. Those of us who remember the depression are amused at stories of deprivation.

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Posted by A Concerned Friend
a resident of another community
on Nov 4, 2007 at 6:11 am

I would ask all of you to put yourselves into his family's position right now. He has always been a good boy, loves his family, loved living in Palo Alto. How can you call him a monster, when he was never in any trouble before? He needs help, YES. Does he need everyone to desert him at a time like this? NO.

As a close family friend, I can tell everyone that this has come as much of a shock to us (his family and friends) as the incident did to the community.

We are all praying for the victim and her family. It was a horrendous thing that happened to them, and I'm sure he is beside himself with remorse over what has been done.

Again, imagine if it were YOUR son........ Never had any problems with him, he was a jock, popular in school, happy go lucky.... then you find out he allegedly did something like this. How would you feel? Would you want others tearing him apart like you all are doing to the suspect?

I would imagine not.

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Posted by joe
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 4, 2007 at 6:27 am

A Concerned Friend,

Apparently he has not always "been a good boy", since if you read another thread here there were allegations he raped a Paly student some time ago. Given the recidivism of rapists in general, one wonders if there are other victims out there as well.

I don't care how bad someone's upbringing is, many people go thru the same thing without becoming violent predators.

If he's found guilty, and I assume there is DNA evidence all over the place, throw away the key if for no other reason than to protect future victms.

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Posted by get off your high horse
a resident of another community
on Nov 4, 2007 at 10:21 am

To a concerned friend,

I agree with you that we should all be respectful of the family. How many of you hold yourself responsible for your siblings or your parents actions? This is a horrendous crime and there is no way anyone wants to see this happen again. We should all try to learn from this. If a young person can fall into this behavior then we should try and find out why this happened. Those of you who are so righteous and so degrading in your comments should get away from your computers for awhile and spend some of your energy working with youth to find out how you can help to make things better for the world at large. If you do not have it in your heart to help others then at least go out and take a walk; you need some fresh air.

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Posted by Eleanora
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 4, 2007 at 10:53 am

To A Concerned Friend,

I agree we as a community should not be pointing fingers at the alleged perpetrator's family, any more than at the schools. However, IF this particular young man is found legally guilty, IF he did it, then I'm sorry, it really doesn't matter at all if he's been in trouble before. Anyone who would attack, kidnap, sexually assault and try to kill a young woman IS a monster. Period. I'm going to wait for the courts to convict someone of this crime before I comment on them in particular, but in general, WHOEVER did this does not deserve defending. This is about choices, a choice to brutalize someone, not about what family or schools or whomever has done.

If the suspect's family is having a rough time, I'm not relishing it. I'm not attacking them. But I am spending my time feeling compassion and grief with the victim, who did nothing wrong.

I'm at a loss as to why people keep defending or excusing this attack (he's never been in trouble before, he's a happy kid, he loved Palo Alto, the schools must have failed him, etc)....not because I am convicting a particular person, but NONE of these excuses are acceptable no matter who did it.

Whomever did this CHOOSE to do it. Whomever did it, I hope he gets what he deserves, and excuses are not made on his behalf.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2007 at 11:02 am

I agree that the perpetrator of the crime has no excuses and should be punished.

I am more concerned that there may be others like him in our schools and we are not doing enough to prevent them from becoming monsters.

If this had happened eighteen months ago while he was still at school, there would be outcries about what our schools were not doing for him.

Instead, this guy presumably left our schools and then turned out to be someone for whom there is no distinction from right or wrong.

I hope that if there is someone in one of our high schools with the potential to doing the same, that they can be found and helped now so that there will not be another similar incident in eighteen months or whenever.

Prevention is always better than punishment. If someone knows someone who is in danger of turning out like this, make sure they get recognized and then get the help they need, before it gets to the stage where there are two (or more) people's lives destroyed forever.

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Posted by Sue
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 4, 2007 at 12:42 pm

I don't think too much academic pressure is the problem. I think academic neglect was perhaps part of the problem in his case. The young man did not pass the Armed Forces Aptitude test, so he could not fulfill his dream of being a soldier. According to some accounts, that let to a downward spiral.

Now, how can a Paly grad NOT pass a test like the Armed Forces Aptitude test? I've heard that it's a pretty easy test designed to enable the great majority of those who take test to pass (and most of the people who take the test are recent high school grads. It's certainly nothing like the SAT!

Hello, Paly administrators and teachers. Did you let someone slip pass who should not have graduated without basic skills?

I do not like the outpouring of sympathy for the vicious attacker. Sure, we can analyze to no end what went wrong in his life, but the fact remains that he committed a very serious crime against an innocent victim who will probably be scarred for life.

Also, please remember that there are lots of people who are dyslexic, who did not learn very much in school for whatever reason, who came from terrible background, etc. but managed to become decent human beings, so we have to acknowledge that there is a lot about human motivation that we do not understand.

What we have here is a vicious attack by someone on an innocent person. The attacker should be punished to the fullest extent and not be excused just because he went to Paly.

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Posted by No more psychologists!
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 4, 2007 at 1:01 pm

The great ruse of the modern psychology establisment is that they have answers for abnormal human behaviors. Time magazine once ran a cover story about that fallacy. As a society, we spend an enormous amount of our treasure on counselors and analysts, in our schools, legal system and personal lives. The standard answer we get from this snake oil establishment is that the perp is a victim of circumstances.

The healthiest thing we can do is to demand that we no longer sign contracts with counselor consortiums. As indivuals, we just need to grow up and accept our own responsibilities, without blaming others.

HS students are not dumb. They know how to play the game. Take the game away, and they will have to face reality...and grow up. Call it a cold shower.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2007 at 3:03 pm

Ah, but would you say the same thing if your daughter had to sit beside him at school.

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Posted by A Concerned Friend
a resident of another community
on Nov 4, 2007 at 5:47 pm

I am not saying that the incident should go unpunished. I feel heavily in my heart for the girl and her family. She did not ask for this, nor deserve it. They are in my prayers every day.

What I am saying is that it appears that something happened with this boy, something that caused him to act out so horrendously when it was not in his nature to do so before. And to Joe, from above.... Was he convicted or even arrested for this alleged rape on another Paly classmate? If not, then you have no right to even bring that up here. I've known the boy for a long time, and never have I known him to be cruel to anyone.

Again, I ask. If this were YOUR son, would you be looking at the situation any differently? This has been an eye opener for me, in that I realize how quickly I judged others in this situation, until it hit too close to my heart.

I suggest everyone do the same.

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Posted by joe
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 4, 2007 at 6:09 pm

A Concerned Friend,

Apparently no one believe the original young woman and she was hounded out of Paly. We all know how difficult it is for a rape victim to be treated fairly.

Given that he has apparently committed the current crime, what would you say the odds are that the original victim just happened to make up her charges out of thin air before the current crime occurred? I'd say it's 100% likely he committed the previous crime, and perhaps others as well.

Throw away the key.

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Posted by Mother of Paly Alum
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 4, 2007 at 6:21 pm

A Concerned Friend:

I don't think we can say that we understand someone's "nature." It is very, very hard to understand people and to say definitively that "it was not in his nature to do so before" and therefore, we should not be too harsh in judging him

We have to judge a person by his actions and Burpee's actions were heinous. His parents are not responsible, Paly administrators/teachers are not responsible, his neighbors are not responsible, the Palo Alto community is not responsible. Burpee is responsible for his own actions. His actions were monstrous and therefore, calling him a "monster" is justified.

Also, I am very tired of hearing about excuses or reasons as to why he may have committed this monstrous act. We just don't know. Even psychologists/psychiatrists often don't know why people do what they do.

I would not keep on saying that "something caused him to do this." He has free will--he caused himself to do this, although he, like us, may never know what the exact causal factors were.

Whatever "caused" his actions does not excuse his actions in any way.

Please let us shift our attention away from the perpetrator and let us think about the victim more. She has just gone through an inexplicably vicious attack that could have killed her--an incomprehensible near death experience. She needs all the support that we can give. How do you think she and her parents feel when they hear ad infinitum about what a "good boy" her attacker was?

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Posted by Ex Paly Mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 4, 2007 at 6:47 pm

A Concerned Friend

I agree with you, 100%. I am not saying that he should get more sympathy than the victim. I certainly don't want him in a situation to harm someone again, if he indeed was the perpetrator. However, I feel sorry for him as for his family. And I think that there are too many, way too many self-righteous people in this community.

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Posted by Karl M.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 4, 2007 at 9:22 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by julie
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 5, 2007 at 11:24 am

It seems to me that there was a healthy venting of anger over the weekend about this matter.I have no doubt cooler heads will prevail moving forward.

This horrible assault traumatized the whole community,

we were all victims of that.

Victims have a right to express their anger paloaloonline provides a valuable and unique forum for the expression of that anger.

The staff do a good job of editing personal attacks and slander.

In terms of the family, they decided to provide interviews and the content of those interviews was, in fact, very sympathetic towards them, some people believe too sympathetic.

The identity of siblings was known instantly through the school grapevine no doubt and to anyone with google etc. in a second

We can now allow the courts and due process to proceed and see what we can learn and what we can do to deter such vicious crimes in this community moving forward.

This is Palo Alto, not Durham North Carolina nor Salem Mass.

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Posted by Brandon Hall
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 5, 2007 at 3:30 pm

Innocent until proven guilty?

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 5, 2007 at 4:26 pm

I wholeheartedly disagree with Ann. I would press for the maximum punishment under the law. We cannot allow ourselves to believe that the community failed this individual. The opportunities that a present in this area are far greater than the vast majority of this country. If this individual grew up with these advantages and still perpetrated this crime, he is truly someone who cannot be helped. We should put people like this away without remorse. Perhaps, it is fortunate that he was apprehended at such a young age before more crimes could be committed. My sympathy goes out to only the victim, her family and this community.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 8, 2007 at 2:08 am

I agree with Eleanora...this was a deliberate and vicious act against a perceived vulnerable/helpless target....not just reckless/careless, not just picking a fight with someone your own size...this was sociopathic brutal cowardice.

If he did this, he should be put behind bars and the key thrown away. Give him therapy, if he needs it --but behind bars. He has shown he can hide a very dark side very very very well...I can think of nothing more scary than a charming sociopath....remember Ted Bundy -- apparently Ted had been accepted into Stanford. Good schooling can only do so much...

What the perpetrator needs is ---if we are truly sympathetic to to prevent him from further viciously victimizing others which --assuming he still has the capacity to feel delayed empathy --he will regret and later hate himself for doing ...thus his movements must be forever restricted and tracked BEHIND BARS.

We shouldn't enjoy his "punishment", but we should not be naive regarding the menace he presents to the public and to himself.

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Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 9, 2007 at 3:45 am

Nora Charles is a registered user.

He'll have my prayers alright, that he'll land in jail for eternity. No, my prayers are strictly with the VICTIM, thank you very much. How anyone can feel for such a monster is beyond me. Would you feel the same way if he attacked your (hypothetical) daughter? And by the way, at age 20 one is an adult, not a young kid.

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Posted by sharon
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 9, 2007 at 1:25 pm

I guess those calls for castration make sense now.

"A police search of Burpee's car after his arrest turned up six pornographic DVDs, 16 pages of computer printouts of naked men, women and children from a nudist Web site, and three sexually explicit magazines, including one called "Asian Fever."

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Posted by james
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 9, 2007 at 4:00 pm

Why stop there, michelle v? Let's castrate anyone who even has a stash of pornography, because obviously all pornography is a gateway drug that inevitably leads to assault and rape.

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