Crime & Justice

Judge in Stanford rape case faces recall over sentencing

January 2015 booking photo of Brock Turner released by the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office. The former Stanford University swimmer convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman left jail Sept. 2, 2016, after serving half a six-month sentence that critics denounced as too lenient.
January 2015 booking photo of Brock Turner released by the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office. The former Stanford University swimmer convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman left jail Sept. 2, 2016, after serving half a six-month sentence that critics denounced as too lenient.
Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office /AP

Aaron Persky, a Santa Clara County judge, is facing a recall election in Northern California after he sentenced a former Stanford University swimmer to a short jail sentence for sexual assault.

Persky was targeted for recall in 2016, after he sentenced then-sophomore Brock Turner, who had been convicted of sexually assaulting a woman incapacitated by alcohol, to six months in jail, ignoring the statutory minimum sentence of two years.

In handing down the sentence, Persky said he worried imprisonment would have a "severe" impact on Turner.

Recall supporters argued that Persky takes sexual assault cases too lightly. They also accused him of giving Turner a light sentence because he was affluent, white and because Persky had once been a student-athlete at Stanford.

Prior to the sentencing, the victim stood up in court and read an emotional letter — addressed to Turner — about how the sexual assault had impacted her.

"You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice — until today," she said. "To sit under oath and inform all of us, that yes I wanted it, yes I permitted it, and that you are the true victim attacked by guys for reasons unknown to you is sick, is demented, is selfish, is stupid. It shows that you were willing to go to any length, to discredit me, invalidate me, and explain why it was okay to hurt me. You tried unyieldingly to save yourself, your reputation, at my expense."

The judge's supporters say he was following the recommendation of the county's probation department and the sentence was legal.

Political science professors say the election could signal the strength of the Me Too movement. On June 5 , voters will decide Persky's fate.