The 2016 sentencing of former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner went from being a story about pervasive sexual assault on campus to a question about how judges wield punishment. It’s fair to wager that a significant number of Americans are familiar with the Turner case, owing less to the deed than to the light sentence the then college freshman received. If you are not yet familiar with the facts, we’ll take a moment to give you a breakdown.
Brock Turner sexually assaulted a fellow student behind a dumpster while she was unconscious. He was caught in the act and was looking at up to 14 years in prison for committing the act. A jury found the swimmer guilty, and most people assumed that the judge would deal Turner a stiff sentence; perhaps everyone thought Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky would make an example of Turner. The punishment handed down from Persky was the exact opposite.
Judge Persky sentenced Brock turner to 6 months in jail (he only served three months), three years of probation, and was required to register as a sex offender. Turner’s 2016 sentence led to public criticism on a grand scale and led to a petition to recall Judge Persky. The recall was made eligible for a vote after 95,000 people penned their names on the petition, The Huffington Post reports. This summer, Santa Clara County voters will decide whether or not to oust Persky from his post.
Recalling a Judge
“California law requires every judge to consider rehabilitation and probation for first-time offenders,” Persky said in a statement. “It’s not always popular, but it’s the law, and I took an oath to follow it without regard to public opinion or any personal opinions I might have as a former prosecutor.”
Stanford law professor, Michele Dauber, is spearheading the campaign to remove Persky from his seat, according to the article. Dauber is grateful for all the signatories, many of whom speculate that the lenient sentence was the result of Turner being Caucasian and a star athlete privilege as a white male and a star athlete.
“This historic campaign is part of a national social movement to end impunity for athletes and other privileged perpetrators of sexual assault and violence against women,” Dauber said.
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