On Tuesday, Californians voted to remove Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky from the bench, the first judge in 86 years to be recalled in the state. Persky was best known for handing a six-month sentence to Brock Turner, sparking a national outcry in 2016.
Turner, then a 20-year-old Stanford University student, was convicted of three felony counts of sexual assault after attacking an unconscious woman next to a dumpster. Persky sentenced him to six months in prison, saying he feared a heavier sentence would have a "severe impact" on Turner. Prosecutors had asked for a six-year sentence, but the probation department didn't recommend jail time.
The campaign led by Michele Dauber, a Stanford University professor who also knows Doe. (The identity of the young woman assaulted by Turner has never been made public.)
“Tonight many, many voters voted against the culture of impunity for high-status perpetrators of sexual assault or domestic violence,” Dauber told The Washington Post. “This election expresses clearly that sexual assault, sexual violence is serious and it has to be taken seriously by elected officials. It’s a historical moment when women across all sectors of society are standing up saying enough is enough.”
Persky seldomly talked about his decision to sentence Turner to only six months in jail, but recently made news for comparing the unpopularity of the light sentencing to the unpopularity of Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision which led to school desegregation.
In a statement that appeared on the Santa Clara County ballot on Tuesday, Persky said: "As a prosecutor, I fought vigorously for victims. As a judge, my role is to consider both sides. California law requires every judge to consider rehabilitation and probation for first-time offenders. It’s not always popular, but it’s the law, and I took an oath to follow it without regard to public opinion or my opinions as a former prosecutor."
He has yet to comment publicly on the voters' decision to remove him from office.