-- More than 200,000 signatures have been collected for a petition on the website Change.org calling for the removal of the judge whose sentencing in a high-profile Stanford University sexual assault case drew ire over the weekend.
Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky sentenced former Stanford University student Brock Turner to six months in county jail last week for the sexual assault of an unconscious woman at a fraternity party. The woman questioned whether the probation officer’s recommendation of a year or less in county jail was severe enough, in an emotional statement that she read to Turner and Persky in court and that went viral after being published on Buzzfeed.com. The statement has been viewed over 7 million times since being published on Friday afternoon, according to a count linked to the article.
The petition was posted by Maria Ruiz, a nurse from Miami, in reaction to the statement made by the survivor of the assault, which occurred in January 2015.
"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," reads a statement on the petition's page. "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."
"Please help rectify this travesty to justice," it concludes.
Two rape charges against Turner were dropped last October. A jury found him guilty in March of three felony charges: assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated or unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person.
Turner, a star swimmer at Stanford, is appealing his conviction. Persky is barred from commenting on the case.
Colleagues of Persky's pushed back against criticism of him, describing him as a fair and respected judge.
Barbara Muller, a criminal defense attorney who works two weeks each month in Persky's court, told The Associated Press that he "is definitely one of the fairest judges" in the county.
"He considers all facts and is very thorough," she said. "He plays it right down the middle."
Persky earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from Stanford in 1984 and 1985, and according to the AP, he was the captain of the school's lacrosse team as an undergrad.