Juror slams judge in Stanford rape case, calls sentence 'a mockery' amid recall push

The judge who sentenced Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner to six months in jail for sexual assault is continuing to face criticism for his decision.

The effort to recall Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky has gained steam, with several political groups vowing to raise money for the campaign. Two veteran Democratic political consultants, Joe Trippi and John Shallman, decided Thursday to join the effort to force a recall election. 

Then, one of the jurors who convicted Turner of sexual assault wrote a letter to Persky. The juror wrote of being “absolutely shocked and appalled” at the sentence.

“After the guilty verdict I expected that this case would serve as a very strong deterrent to on-campus assaults, but with the ridiculously lenient sentence that Brock Turner received, I am afraid that it makes a mockery of the whole trial and the ability of the justice system to protect victims of assault and rape,” the juror wrote to Persky. “Clearly there are few to no consequences for a rapist even if they are caught in the act of assaulting a defenseless, unconscious person,” the juror wrote in the letter, which was obtained by the Palo Alto Weekly.

On Monday, some state lawmakers said the Turner case proves the definition of rape is out of date and needs updating.

When Turner was convicted by a jury in March, he faced a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison. Prosecutors asked the judge to sentence him to a six-year prison term for the three felony counts of which he was found guilty: assault with the intent to commit rape of an unconscious person; sexual penetration of an unconscious person; and sexual penetration of an intoxicated person.

Later, Turner’s chief probation officer, Monica Lassettre, recommended a sentence of county jail, three years of probation and sex offender treatment, according to a probation report.

In the weeks following Turner’s sentencing, nearly a million people signed online petitions calling on the California Commission for Judicial Performance to remove Persky.

Persky, who was appointed to the bench by Gov. Gray Davis in 2003, is up for reelection in November.

So far, no one has submitted paperwork to challenge Persky or recall him, according to Anita Torres, spokeswoman for the Santa Clara County registrar of voters.

The woman who was sexually assaulted by Turner read a 12-page letter in open court, calling the lack of a state prison sentence “a soft time-out, a mockery of the seriousness of the assaults.”

More than 250 students signed a letter submitted to Persky before Turner’s sentencing, asking that he be held accountable for his actions.

At Sunday’s commencement ceremony, several Stanford students waved signs in support of victims of sexual assault and called on university officials to publicly release names of students who were found responsible for sexual assault.

Judges are rarely recalled from office in California. Most who do leave office are removed following an investigation by the state Commission on Judicial Performance with a hearing on an issue of serious abuse, Loyola Law professor Laurie Levenson told The Times last week.

An effort to recall Orange County Superior Court Judge M. Marc Kelly for sentencing a child molester to 10 years instead of 25 years to life failed this year. Nancy Wieben Stock, a now-retired Orange County judge, weathered an unsuccessful recall effort in the 1990s after she awarded O.J. Simpson custody of his two children following his acquittal on charges of killing his wife and the children’s mother, Nicole Brown Simpson.

Some in Santa Clara County have come to the judge’s defense, saying he is a strong jurist who was within his rights to hand down the sentence. Legal experts have said the sentence was within the law but lighter than normal for such cases.

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UPDATES:

9:15 a.m.: The article was updated to cite supporters of the judge.

This article was originally published at 7:28 a.m.

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