The California judge who gave rapist Brock Turner a light sentence faces a reckoning with voters this June.
Voters in Santa Clara County will have the opportunity to decide whether or not Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky should be removed from the bench.
As the Los Angeles Times reports,
This is not the standard, every-six-year retention vote faced by California judges. This is a recall, born of outrage and frustration at the way Persky mishandled a sexual assault case involving a Stanford swimmer named Brock Turner and an unconscious young woman, known to the public only as “Emily Doe.
In January 2015, Brock Allen Turner, a “star” swimmer at Stanford University, raped a young, intoxicated, unconscious woman, “Emily Doe,” behind a dumpster. In the midst of the assault, two passers-by witnessed Turner raping Doe and called out to him. Turner ran away and was tackled by the witnesses who held him until police arrived on the scene.
In March 2016, a unanimous jury convicted Turner for the crime of rape. He faced up to 14 years in prison, and the prosecutors argued for six years. Despite the evidence, Brock Allen Turner received a sentence of just six months and three years-probation. Judge Aaron Persky) worried that a harsher, longer sentence would have a “severe impact” on Turner. Persky was more concerned about the welfare of a star athlete who sexually assaulted an unconscious woman behind a dumpster than he was for the victim.
Over 96,000 people have signed the “Recall Judge Aaron Persky” petition in Santa Clara County.
Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Brock Turner to only six months in county jail and three years probation, ignoring the statutory minimum sentence of two years. Turner served only three months and was released on September 2, 2016. As Emily Doe said, he received “one month for each felony.”
The anonymous Stanford sexual assault survivor, known only as “Emily Doe,” penned a must-read essay in Glamour, which ended with the following:
If you think the answer is that women need to be more sober, more civil, more upright, that girls must be better at exercising fear, must wear more layers with eyes open wider, we will go nowhere. When Judge Aaron Persky mutes the word justice, when Brock Turner serves one month for every felony, we go nowhere. When we all make it a priority to avoid harming or violating another human being, and when we hold accountable those who do, when the campaign to recall this judge declares that survivors deserve better, then we are going somewhere.
Stanford law professor Michele Dauber, leader of the recall campaign, told the LA Times, “the campaign that has raised more than $700,000 and is on track to raise an additional $500,000.” Dauber told the LA Times. “We have over 4,000 individual donors, averaging around $100. There are a couple of really generous larger donors, but this is a grass-roots effort.”
The case even grabbed the attention of former Vice President Joe Biden. In a 2016 open letter to “Jane Doe,” Biden wrote in part:
I am in awe of your courage for speaking out — for so clearly naming the wrongs that were done to you and so passionately asserting your equal claim to human dignity.
And I am 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.
It must have been wrenching — to relive what he did to you all over again. But you did it anyway, in the hope that your strength might prevent this crime from happening to someone else. Your bravery is breathtaking.
You are a warrior — with a solid steel spine.