A group of activists filed paperwork Monday to officially launch a recall election against a Santa Clara County judge who was criticized for his decision to sentence a former Stanford University student to six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman.
Fifty activists, who are being led by Stanford law professor Michele Dauber, turned in a “notice of intent” with the Santa Clara County registrar of voters, setting into motion a complex series of steps to remove Judge Aaron Persky from the bench in the next election cycle.
“Santa Clara County residents deserve a judge who will protect victims, not rapists,” Dauber said at a news conference Monday.
Turner was facing a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison for the January 2015 assault.
Prosecutors asked Persky to sentence him to six years in prison. Before making a decision, Dauber and more than 250 students submitted letters to Persky, pleading that Turner be held accountable for his actions.
Turner’s chief probation officer had also recommended a sentence of county jail, three years of probation and sex offender treatment, according to her probation report.
In June 2016, Persky sentenced the then-20-year-old Turner to six months in county jail and three years’ probation, stating that a harsher penalty would have a “severe impact.” Because of California’s felony sentencing realignment, Turner served only half of the sentence.
Critics slammed the sentence for being too lenient, and a effort to recall Persky from the bench was launched.
Although Persky was cleared of misconduct by the California Commission on Judicial Performance, the sentence sparked outrage nationwide.
Persky later was moved to a civil court in San Jose to reduce courtroom distraction after the Turner case.
After Persky’s controversial ruling, lawmakers passed legislation in California this year that expanded the definition of rape and increased penalties for offenders who assault unconscious victims.
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