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Judge in Brock Turner sex assault case is fired from job as high school girls tennis coach

Aaron Persky
Aaron Persky, a former Santa Clara County Superior Court judge, drew criticism when he sentenced former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner to only six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman.
(Associated Press)

Former Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, who was recalled last year after sentencing Stanford student Brock Turner to only six months in jail for sexual assault, has lost another job.

A San Jose high school on Tuesday confirmed it had hired Persky to coach its junior varsity girls tennis team. But after criticism and an online petition spurred by students, parents and alumni from Lynbrook High School, the Fremont Union High School District announced Wednesday that Persky had been released from his position.

Although Persky previously attended several youth tennis coaching clinics and holds a high rating from the U.S. Tennis Assn., the district cited the interest of students and the school community in its decision to sever ties with the former judge.

Persky’s connection to the Turner case was brought to the district’s attention only last week, according to Rachel Zlotzviver, the Fremont Union district communications coordinator. The longtime jurist was hired after applying for the open coaching position over the summer. He “successfully completed all of the district’s hiring requirements before starting as a coach, including a fingerprint background check,” Zlotzviver said.

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Persky was the first California judge to be recalled in more than 85 years. His removal followed widespread outrage over his sentencing of Turner, who received six months in jail and three years’ probation for the 2015 sexual assault of an unconscious woman behind a garbage bin on campus. Turner ended up serving only three months in jail for “good behavior.”

In a statement provided to NBC News on Wednesday, Persky confirmed his firing from Lynbrook.

“Polly Bove, superintendent of the Fremont Union High School District, explained that she was motivated by a desire to protect the players from the potentially intrusive media attention related to my hiring,” Persky said. “Although I am disappointed with the district’s decision, it was a privilege to coach the team, if only for a short time. I wish all of the players the best in their future academic and athletic endeavors.”

Following legal battles against his recall effort, Persky tried to raise donations to pay $135,000 in attorney fees. At the time, his attorney criticized Michele Dauber, a Stanford law professor who was the public face of the recall push and a family friend of the victim.

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“It’s not enough she took his job away and took his pension away and left him out on the street,” attorney James McManis said. “She wanted attorneys’ fees too.”

Last week, the sexual assault survivor in the Turner case known previously as Emily Doe publicly identified herself as Chanel Miller. Miller’s message to Turner went viral in 2016 when BuzzFeed News published the letter she read to her assailant at his court sentencing after Persky said that a longer sentencing would have “a severe impact” on Turner. Miller addressed Turner directly and shared the assault’s impact on her. She told BuzzFeed that she hoped the judge would know “he ignited a tiny fire” after hearing her statement.

“Someone who cannot take full accountability for his actions does not deserve a mitigating sentence. It is deeply offensive that [Turner] would try and dilute rape with a suggestion of ‘promiscuity.’ By definition rape is the absence of promiscuity, rape is the absence of consent, and it perturbs me deeply that he can’t even see that distinction,” she wrote. “The fact that Brock was an athlete at a private university should not be seen as an entitlement to leniency, but as an opportunity to send a message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class.”

Following the case, then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed new legislation to ensure that any future perpetrators convicted of a similar crime would receive a mandatory prison sentence.


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