Judge Aaron Persky sparked public outrage a year ago when he sentenced rapist Brock Turner to only six months in jail. Persky has now spoken out to defend his decision on Turner’s short sentence, The Washington Post reports.
Turner, a swimmer at Stanford University, was convicted of three felony sex crimes in March 2016 for the rape of an inebriated woman who was unable to consent after she passed out behind a dumpster at a party.
The assault was witnessed by two graduate students who immediately accosted Turner in the middle of the act. When he tried to run away, the two students tackled and pinned Turner to the ground then called police.
Brock Turner judge Aaron Persky responds to calls for his removal https://t.co/qoegg4m5UR
— Jordan Etem (@JordanEtem) July 2, 2017
The high-profile case sparked public outrage, especially after Persky sentenced Turner to just six months in prison. Because of good behavior, the rapist only spent three of those months in jail.
People, angry with Turner’s light sentence, said that he should have received a harder punishment for his actions and demanded that Persky lose his job for his bias while sentencing.
The judge, also a former student-athlete at Stanford, was accused of letting Turner off easy because he is white, and affluent.
Turner’s father, Dan A. Turner, wrote a letter that angered the public even further by saying that his son’s crimes weren’t as terrible as the public believed and that the punishment was too harsh for the crime.
“His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.”
The victim’s life will also never be the one that she dreamed, as she explained in a heart-wrenching letter how Turner “took away my worth.”
Persky is now speaking out to defend his decision in a 198-word statement filed last week with the Santa Clara County registrar. In the statement, that didn’t specifically name the Brock Turner case, he claims that as a judge he has a duty “to consider both sides” during sentencing. He says that, per California law, he’s required to look at rehabilitation and probation as a favorable sentence for first-time offenders.
“As a prosecutor, I fought vigorously for victims. As a judge, my role is to consider both sides. California law requires every judge to consider rehabilitation and probation for first-time offenders. It’s not always popular, but it’s the law, and I took an oath to follow it without regard to public opinion or my opinions as a former prosecutor.”
If the statement is approved by the registrar, it will appear on the ballot when Californians vote on whether or not Persky should keep his position on the bench.
Those who are livid with the judge’s decision believe that justice can still be served by making sure that Persky loses his job and can no longer give out light sentences for those that deserve to serve longer.
Persky and his supporters rebutted the motion saying that one case should not influence his 20-year career, which he claims is full of fair decisions and an intent to bring sexual predators to justice.
Michele Landis Dauber, a Stanford law professor who is leading the recall committee, says that the judge “has a long history of leniency in cases involving sexual assault” and that this decision was only one in a “slew of bad decisions involving sex crimes and violence against women.”
[Feature Photo: Santa Clara Sheriff’s Office]