The presiding judge in the Stanford sexual assault case is now facing recall after handing down a farcical sentence to a former Stanford student convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman outside of a fraternity party.
In a lamentable ebullition of the “old boys club” mentality that has seen sexual violence become endemic on college campuses, Judge Aaron Persky, a former captain of the Stanford lacrosse team, sentenced Brock Turner, a former Stanford student-athlete, to a mere six months in county jail. The wrist slap handed down by the judge is less than half of the two-year state minimum prescribed by California law for the convicted felon’s offenses.
Persky’s dubious sentencing and comments made by Turner’s father, who reduced his son’s transgressions to “twenty minutes of action,” have been met with widespread outrage and condemnation. Michele Landis Dauber, a law professor at Stanford University and outspoken critic of sexual assault policies on campus, is leading the charge to oust Persky saying, “the judge bent over backwards in order to make an exception … and the message to women and students is ‘you’re on your own,’ and the message to potential perpetrators is ‘I’ve got your back.’”
The victim has garnered massive support both online and from the media after her complete victim impact statement was made public by the district attorney. In her published account she describes the arduous process of trying to put the pieces of her life back together after being raped by a stranger and found behind a dumpster.
The assault took place after midnight on January 18, 2015. Two witnesses saw Turner on top of the unconscious victim and intervened, forcibly removing him and then detaining him until police officers arrived. In the year and a half that has passed since that fateful night the victim has had to relive her nightmare repeatedly and in detail. For a year and a half the victim has had to grapple with the all too real prospect that being a victim of rape is now an intractable part of her life, an intractable part of her character.
Judge Persky cited Turner’s age and lack of criminal history as weighted factors in making his decision, saying, “a prison sentence would have a severe impact on him… I think he will not be a danger to others.” What a tragedy of American justice it would be if Brock Turner’s actions had a severe impact on him.
Please follow the link to Change.org to sign the petition for Judge Persky’s recall.