The California judge who recently sentenced college athlete Brock Turner to six months in prison for sexually assaulting an intoxicated woman near a Stanford University fraternity party is facing a growing chorus of outrage over his seemingly lenient punishment of the 20-year-old.
In addition to protests calling for Judge Aaron Persky’s removal from the bench, a dozen California lawmakers delivered a signed letter Friday to a state judicial oversight commission, and a local prosecutor said Persky’s sentencing "shows bias and undermines public faith in the judicial system.”
Meanwhile, news emerged Friday that this isn’t the first time the judge has been lambasted for the way he presides over cases involving college athletes accused of sexual assault.
The Mercury News of San Jose reported that the California Commission on Judicial Performance and Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rose have been asked to take action against Persky and to request a legal measure known as a writ review that would allow another judge to issue a harsher sentence against the Stanford swimmer.
Under the current sentence Turner could be out of prison in three months on good behavior. State of California guidelines for sexual assault charges range from up to six months for misdemeanor sexual battery to up to four years for a felony conviction.
In March, a jury convicted Turner on three charges in connection with the January 2015 case: intent to commit rape, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object and doing the same to an unconscious person.
The news garnered global attention after the assault victim, who decided to remain anonymous, wrote a lengthy letter to her attacker that went viral on social media. It condemned both Turner’s actions and the treatment she received by defense attorneys who plied her with detailed questions aimed at attacking her character.
Meanwhile, Turner's father, Dan A. Turner, drew criticism for a statement of his own, in which he described his son's encounter with the woman as "20 minutes of action" for which the son should not be imprisoned.
The judge's lenient sentence “confirms what women already knew: that rape culture blames us for being vulnerable when crimes are committed against us, but treats the same factors — drinking, in particular — as reasons to be exceedingly lenient with rapists. We will fight this with everything we have,” California Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman, one of the co-signers of the letter, told the Mercury News.
Activists from the rape culture awareness group UltraViolet also delivered a petition Friday with nearly 1 million signatures, asking for Persky to be removed from the bench.
This is not the first time Persky has been involved in controversy over his handling of sexual assault cases.
The New York Daily News reported Thursday that Persky in 2011 allowed for defense lawyers to show Facebook photos of an alleged gang rape victim wearing fishnet stockings and revealing clothing months after she was allegedly gang-raped in 2007 by a group of De Anza College baseball players. He purportedly allowed the images to be used in court so defense lawyers could claim she wasn’t emotionally damaged by the incident.
The case ended with a jury allowing two defendants to walk, while the others settled privately with the victim.