Lawmakers Call for Judge in Rape Case to Resign

     SACRAMENTO (CN) — California lawmakers solidified a burgeoning movement seeking to remove a state judge who gave a white Stanford student convicted of raping an intoxicated woman a reduced six-month sentence.
     Critics decried Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky’s light sentencing of former Stanford student Brock Turner, 20, after he was convicted in May of three felonies, including assault with intent to commit rape and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object.
     Persky refused a maximum sentence of 14 years and denied prosecutors’ request for a six-year prison term and instead sentenced Turner to six months in county jail with three years probation. During sentencing, the judge said that an extended prison sentence could have a “severe impact” on Turner and noted his once-spotless criminal record.
     The decision ignited Californians and spurred a recall effort to remove Persky from the bench for going easy on Turner.
     A recall petition on change.org has gained more than 435,000 signatures and state lawmakers on Monday called for Persky’s immediate resignation.
     “Judge Persky’s decision is baffling and repugnant, especially given the rapist’s refusal to accept his guilt, and to instead blame ‘drinking culture,’ which is an obvious attempt at blaming the victim,” Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman, D-Stockton, said. “Six months in the county lockup is a sentence so lenient it sends a clear message that rape will not be treated seriously.”
     Activists claim Turner was let off easy and that a much harsher sentence would have been given if he was black. Santa Clara County officials have also been blasted for refusing to release Turner’s January 2015 arrest photo until after he was sentenced.
     Turner was arrested 16 months ago after two other Stanford students saw the freshman thrusting on top of an unconscious woman near a dumpster on the Palo Alto campus. The Swedish graduate students halted the sexual assault, chasing and tackling Turner after he fled the scene.
     In a powerful 13-page court letter, the unnamed victim recollected the January night and called the probation officer’s sentencing recommendation a “soft timeout” and a mockery of Turner’s serious crimes.
     “You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me and that’s why we’re here today,” the victim writes, addressing her rapist. “The next thing I remember I was in a gurney in a hallway. I had dried blood and bandages on the backs of my hands and elbow.”
     A tidal wave of criticism followed Turner’s sentencing announcement last Thursday and it peaked Monday following the release of letters sent to Persky by the rapist’s friends and family members ahead of his sentencing.
     Turner’s father asked the court for leniency, writing that his son shouldn’t pay a “steep price” for “20 minutes of action.” His grandparents told the court that “Brock is the only person being held accountable for the actions of other irresponsible adults.”
     Family friend and retired federal prosecutor Margaret Quinn reiterated support for a lightened sentence.
     “As I know you are aware, the collateral consequences of a conviction are staggering,” Quinn wrote.
     Persky was up for election Tuesday but was removed from the ballot because he ran unopposed. He was appointed to the court in 2003 by California Gov. Gray Davis and he has not commented on the case as Turner has appealed the decision.
     State Assemblywoman and vice-chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, joined Eggman in calling for the judge’s resignation.
     “Rape is a cancer that impacts the lives of survivors daily and for a lifetime. It is disappointing; the judicial process put this victim on trial and the judge has reduced his sentence to no more than an inconvenience,” Garcia said in a statement.
     The assemblywoman said they will “exhaust other measures” if Persky does not step down from the bench.

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