When former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner received six months in jail for sexual assault, millions of people blamed the judge responsible for the sentencing, Aaron Persky, for allowing him to basically get away with his crime. The judge defended his decision by saying he took Brock “at his word.”
CNN reports that although the jury found it hard to believe that Brock was too drunk to realize what he was doing when he assaulted an unknown victim behind a frat house dumpster last year, Judge Persky, of the Santa Clara Superior Court, said he was convinced that Turner was telling the truth.
“What he (Turner) tried to do at trial — and — and it’s still his perception — was to explain that, in his drunken state, he remembered consent…..I mean, I take him at his word that, subjectively, that’s his version of events. The jury, obviously, found it not to be the sequence of events.”
The judge’s reply was included in the newly released June 2 sentencing transcripts, and offers an explanation as to why Persky decided to hand down such a light sentence. Persky admitted that Brock’s inebriation wasn’t an excuse for the former swimmer’s behavior, but instead, “a factor that, when trying to assess moral culpability in this situation, is mitigating.”
Persky, who also attended Stanford and excelled in athletics, compared Brock’s crime to that of a sober person who had the intent to commit assault. The judge stated that a sober person who had the intention to commit an assault is different than Brock’s situation, where he was clearly intoxicated and didn’t have any premeditated thoughts of committing a crime.
Yet, the prosecutor in Brock’s case, Alaleh Kianerci, disagreed with the judge’s assessment, and stated that it doesn’t make Brock’s crime any less serious just because he happened to be drunk when the assault occurred.
“I don’t agree with the court’s description that this case is less serious because there was alcohol involved.”
Kianerci pushed Persky to give Brock a severe sentence, citing the two witnesses that saw the defendant on top of an unconscious female. Brock maintained that the victim was awake and willing, something that jury ultimately didn’t buy. Kianerci said,
“The defendant has maintained that (the victim) was awake, into it, and coherent. While the defendant believes his lie, this court shouldn’t, because 12 jurors didn’t. “
Regardless, Persky still decided on the light sentence because he felt the defendant showed “a genuine feeling of remorse.” Persky also took into account Brock’s lack of criminal record, as well as more than 20 character letters.
Despite Judge Persky’s reasons behind his judgment, many people are fighting the decision, even calling for his removal from the bench. An online petition, entitled, “Remove Judge Aaron Persky from the Bench for Decision in Brock Turner rape case,” already has more than a million signatures. According to the petition,
“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. Please help rectify this travesty to justice.”
Although Turner was sentenced to six months in jail, he’ll likely only serve three months before being released. According to the Santa Clara county jail, inmates who don’t have a prior record are eligible for release after serving at least 50 percent of their sentence.
Brock Turner was found guilty of three felony counts of sexual assault, stemming from the January 17, 2015, incident. The victim, who wishes to remain unknown, was just 23 years old when she attended a frat party with her sister, a party Turner also attended. The victim wrote a powerful letter to Judge Persky, detailing the emotional turmoil she lives through since the attack, but it didn’t change the outcome of the sentencing.
[Photo by Twitter]