More than one million people have signed petitions calling for the removal of the judge who sentenced 20-year-old ex-Stanford swimmer Brock Turner to six months in a county jail.
The change.org petitions hammer Judge Aaron Persky for his perceived leniency after Turner was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman.
“We the people would like to petition that Judge Aaron Persky be removed from his judicial position for the lenient sentence he allowed in the Brock Turner rape case,” one petition on Change.org reads.
“Despite a unanimous guilty verdict, three felony convictions, the objections of 250 Stanford students, Jeff Rosen the district attorney for Santa Clara, as well as the deputy district attorney who likened Turner to ‘a predator searching for prey’ Judge Persky allowed the lenient sentence suggested by the probation department,” it continued.
Rosen also publicly criticized the sentence when it was announced.
“The punishment does not fit the crime,” Rosen said in a statement last week, according to The Associated Press. “The sentence does not factor in the true seriousness of this sexual assault, or the victim’s ongoing trauma. Campus rape is no different than off-campus rape. Rape is rape.”
Since then, Rosen has stood by his words but said that he does not believe Persky should be removed from his position.
“While I strongly disagree with the sentence that Judge Persky issued in the Brock Turner case I do not believe he should be removed from his judgeship,” Rosen wrote in a statement, according to the Mercury News.
Persky is a graduate of Stanford and was a star athlete while there. Some have suggested that his commonalities with Tuner may have influenced his sentencing.
“I think he was very persuaded by the background of the young man as an elite athlete,” Michele Dauber, a Stanford law professor, told NBC News.
“The judge had to bend over backwards to accommodate this young man,” Dauber, who’s also a close family friend of the victim of the sexual assault, said.
Turner was found guilty of three felony counts for sexually assaulting an unconscious and intoxicated woman in January 2015. Two graduate students saw the incident occurring behind a garbage bin outside of a fraternity house at Stanford University. When Turner tried to run, the graduate students pinned him down until the police arrived.
He was sentenced to six months in a county jail and three years’ probation, which some have decried as “a slap on the wrist.” Turner must also register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Still, it’s unlikely that Persky, the Santa Clara County Superior Court judge, will be recalled from his seat. Judges in California are typically recalled only for serious abuses.
“Judges almost never get recalled even when people are upset about a sentence,” Loyola law professor Laurie Levenson told the Los Angeles Times.