-- The judge who presided over the sexual assault case against former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner is facing backlash from potential jurors in another trial, sources within the California court system told ABC News.
Turner, 20, was sentenced to six months in prison and three years of probation by Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky last week, prompting outrage from critics across the country saying the punishment was too lenient for the now-disgraced athlete who was found guilty of sexually assaulting an intoxicated, unconscious woman on campus.
The judge has been receiving abusive and threatening phone calls since then, Santa Clara Public Defender Gary Goodman told ABC News.
Now, about a dozen would-be jurors have refused to take part in a separate misdemeanor case in Palo Alto because Persky is presiding. He quietly dismissed the dissenters, who cited an unwillingness to work under him, court sources said Thursday.
Persky has not commented publicly about his decision because Turner, who’s expected to be released three months early Sept. 2, plans to appeal his conviction. A jury found him guilty in March of three felonies: assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated-unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person.
Two women who provided character witness statements for Turner have expressed regret for supporting the former student amid the surging public outcry.
Leslie Rasmussen of the indie rock band Good English, who went to school with Turner, posted on her Facebook page how she regretted supporting him, citing widespread backlash and canceled venues.
"I did not acknowledge strongly enough the severity of Brock's crime and the suffering and pain that his victim endured, and for that lack of acknowledgement, I am deeply sorry," Rasmussen, 20, wrote Wednesday evening. "I fully understand the outrage over Brock's sentencing and my statement. I can only say that I am committed to learning from this mistake. I am 20 years old, and it has never been more clear to me that I still have much to learn."
Kelly Owens, who was Turner's guidance counselor when he went to Oakwood High School, near Dayton, Ohio, was also a character witness. Owens issued an apology Wednesday to the school district saying the letter she wrote to the judge during Turner's trial was a mistake.
She had said her reference letter that Turner was an "exceptional student" and "a young man of character" who is "absolutely undeserving of the outcome."
"In the statement I submitted to the Judge during the criminal proceedings and before sentencing referencing Brock's character, I made a mistake," Owens wrote. "Of course he should be held accountable. I pray for the victim, her family and all those affected by this horrible event. I am truly sorry for the additional pain my statement has caused. I tell my students they have to be accountable, and Brock is no exception."