recall Judge Aaron Persky

Stanford Rape Case Judge Aaron Persky Removed From Upcoming Sexual Assault Case

The news just keeps getting worse for Judge Aaron Persky, who presided over the controversial Stanford rape trial of Brock Turner. After Turner was convicted of three felony counts of sexual assault, Persky sentenced him to only six months of incarceration, with an expected release date of three months with good behavior. That prompted an outcry and multiple petitions to have him removed from the bench, including one group who has hired three professional consultants to get the job done. While that legal action is still pending, Judge Persky has been removed from another case of sexual assault at the request of the prosecutors, according to NBC News.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office invoked a procedure known as 170.6, in which attorneys petition to have a judge removed from the case when they feel they are biased. Not only was the Stanford rape trial of Brock Turner a factor in their decision to request Persky’s removal from the current sexual assault proceeding, but also Persky’s recent decision to dismiss a stolen email case in the middle of the trial, with Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen explaining how a case unrelated to a sexual assault charge affected their decision.

“We are disappointed and puzzled at Judge Persky’s unusual decision to unilaterally dismiss a case before the jury could deliberate. After this and the recent turn of events, we lack confidence that Judge Persky can fairly participate in this upcoming hearing in which a male nurse sexually assaulted an anesthetized female patient.”

Brock Turner mugshot
Brock Turner [Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office via AP]
While the link with the stolen email case may be a little vague, the sexual assault case draws some apparent parallels to the Stanford rape case, where Turner was convicted of assaulting a woman who was unconscious from alcohol consumption, dragging her behind a dumpster to assault her. The attack was witnessed and interrupted by two other students who detained Turner until police arrived.

This new sexual assault case where Judge Persky was removed involves a male nurse who allegedly groped a woman while she was under sedation, according to the San Jose Mercury News. The nurse is charged with one felony count of sexual battery, and prosecutor Stacey Capps echoed the special circumstances in this alleged assault that are similar to the Stanford rape case in an interview with that newspaper.

“It is one of those situations where we think the victim is particularly vulnerable.”

Rosen clarified this is not a standard procedure nor something prosecutors normally consider, and that the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office gave careful consideration before requesting Judge Persky’s removal from the case.

“In the future, we will evaluate each case on its own merits and decide if we should use our legal right to ask for another judge in order to protect public safety and pursue justice.”

Multiple petitions have been circulating to have Judge Persky removed from the bench because of the extraordinarily light sentencing for a conviction on three sexual assault felonies. The story has gone viral due to the impact statement letter from the victim responding to the sentencing and the judge’s comments that he did not want the conviction to have a “severe impact” on Turner, sparking further outrage. Then Turner’s parents fanned the flames with letters where his mother did not even acknowledge the victim or the crime committed, and his father made the shocking statement that his son should not have to suffer the rest of his life for “20 minutes of action.”

stanford rape case
An unidentified graduate holds up a protest sign at the Stanford University graduation exercises. [AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron]
Thousands of people have spoken out in support of the anonymous victim, including Vice President Joe Biden, who called the anonymous young woman a “warrior” in his own open letter.

The backlash against Judge Persky has been brutal, and even though Persky had just been re-elected to another term as judge a few days before the Turner sentencing, it looks like enough signatures may be gathered for a recall vote. Until then, Loyola Law School Professor Laurie Levenson told NBC News that she agreed the sentence in the Turner case was far too short, and that prosecutors can use 170.6 to ensure that he never sits another actual assault case, if lawyers take advantage of that option.

[AP Photo/Eric Risberg]

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