Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky’s time on the bench in now over after voters chose to recall him over his inexcusable decision to spare Stanford rapist Brock Turner from serving a proper prison sentence.
Two years ago, Persky sentenced Brock Turner to serve only six months in jail after he was convicted of sexual assault and intent to commit rape. He ended up only serving three months. The victim delivered a harrowing statement that made national headlines about what the crime took from her.
“You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today,” she said in court.
She was intoxicated and had passed out behind a trash can when Turner got on top of her. If it were not for the courageous efforts of two Swedish graduate students, Turner would have completed his crime and left. Instead, he was chased down and held until police arrived to take him into custody.
Despite the evidence, the witnesses, and the conviction, Persky went easy on Turner because he was a white Stanford swimmer from a financially well-off family.
According to The Atlantic:
Although Turner was convicted by a unanimous jury, Persky decided his punishment: six months in county jail and three years of probation—far less than the six years prosecutors had asked for, in line with the two-year minimum guideline for each of the three felony counts.
Persky worried more about Turner’s future than he did about the victim’s. So, Turner received what amounts to a slap on the wrist. If he were black or from a poor family, he’d likely be serving a long prison sentence right now.
Outrage over Persky’s decision resulted in a recall campaign. And voters overwhelmingly voted to oust him 59 percent to 41 percent, making him the first California judge to be recalled since 1932. Of course, Persky whined about it.
“I expected some negative reaction, but not this,” he said about the recall effort. “The problem with this recall is it will pressure judges to follow the rule of public opinion as opposed to the rule of law.”
No, it sends a message to judges that they had better follow the rule of law and that no one deserves special treatment just because their skin is white or because they are an athlete.
It’s a backlash against a troublesome trend when it comes to sentencing sexual predators.
Turner faced a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison. Prosecutors were already going easy on him by asking for six years. The judge ignored the minimum sentencing guidelines, the prosecution and the jury and took it upon himself to make sure Turner was lightly punished for the crime for which he was convicted.
“The broader message of this victory is that violence against women is now a voting issue,” said Michele Dauber, the Stanford professor who spearheaded the recall effort. “This is a historical moment in time. Women are standing up for their rights and there is a national reckoning.”
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