California judge Aaron Persky, who in 2016 sentenced former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner to only six months in prison after he was convicted on three counts of felony sexual assault, was recalled from office after Californians voted Tuesday to remove him from the bench. He is the first California judge to be recalled since 1932, and the first in the United States since 1977.
Turner, who was found guilty of assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person, assaulted the unconscious woman behind a dumpster after a party and then tired to run away the two people on bicycles yelled at him to stop. In a widely shared victim impact statement, the woman Turner assaulted, known as Emily Doe, described the the horror of the assault, its lingering consequences for her and her family, and how Turner failed to accept responsibility for his actions. She wrote:
“I fully respected his right to a trial, but even after twelve jurors unanimously convicted him guilty of three felonies, all he has admitted to doing is ingesting alcohol. Someone who cannot take full accountability for his actions does not deserve a mitigating sentence.”
Turner faced up to 14 years in prison, and the law prescribed a minimum of two years. However, after Turner blamed his actions on alcohol and Turner’s father said his son had been unfairly persecuted all for “20 minutes of action,” Persky handed down the lenient six-month sentence. Turner ended up serving only three months in prison due to good behavior.
A push to recall Persky, led by Stanford law professor Michelle Dauber, gained momentum soon after the sentencing when, as the only candidate on the ballot, he was reelected to the bench for a six-year term. Persky, who is also a former Stanford athlete, addressed the recall effort in a press conference last month.
“We ask judges to follow the rule of law and not the rule of public opinion,” he said, according to Reuters.
After the recall vote, Dauber said: “This victory is not just for Emily Doe, but for girls and women everywhere.”