The 54-year-old judge who last week sentenced former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner to a lenient sentence for sexual assault has been revealed to be an alum and former athlete of Stanford University as well.
Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky gave Turner a sentence of six months in jail and three years probation for sexually assaulting a woman at a campus fraternity party.
While those convicted of sexual assault can face up to 14 years of prison time, Turner was expected to spend only three months of a six-month sentence in county jail after being charged with three felonies including assault with intent to rape.
According to Persky, positive character references and a lack of a criminal record led him to be more lenient on the 20-year-old, who was once an Olympic hopeful. The judge said that prison would have a “severe impact on him.”
According to NBC News, Persky, who attended Stanford University as an undergraduate, was captain of his school’s lacrosse team. He also helped coach the lacrosse team while a law student at UC Berkeley School of Law. It has been suggested that the California judge’s background led him to sympathize with Turner and swayed his sentencing.
Critics are outraged and are demanding justice. Stanford law professor Michele Dauber, told NBC News:
“I think he [Persky] was very persuaded by the background of the young man as an elite athlete.”
A recall petition on Change.org is demanding for the removal of Persky from the bench and has received over 67,000 signatures. It is 7,224 signatures away from reaching its goal of 75,000 supporters. The petition states:
“We the people would like to petition that Judge Aaron Persky be removed from his Judicial position for the lenient sentence he allowed in the Brock Turner rape case. Despite a unanimous guilty verdict, three felony convictions, the objections of 250 Stanford students, Jeff Rosen the district attorney for Santa Clara, as well as the deputy district attorney who likened Turner to ” a predator searching for prey” Judge Persky allowed the lenient sentence suggested by the probation department […]
“Judge Persky failed to see that the fact that Brock Turner is a white male star athlete at a prestigious university does not entitle him to leniency. He also failed to send the message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class, race, gender or other factors.”
Persky is allegedly campaigning for re-election in the Santa Clara County election to take place on Tuesday, June 7, 2016. His critics, however, have purportedly launched a campaign called “Santa Clara vote Rape Judge OUT.”