More than 300,000 people have pledged their names to a petition demanding a Californian judge step down from his position after he ignored the maximum sentence for rape and sent a former Stanford University student to jail for six months. The petition comes after rapist Brock Turner’s unnamed victim released her impact statement, detailing her ordeal since learning she was assaulted by him, was widely shared online over the weekend.
Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky’s sentence has been widely condemned in the media, as he handed down a sentence of just six months in county jail and three years’ probation to Turner, who was found guilty by a unanimous jury of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on the Palo Alto campus after meeting her at a fraternity party.
Turner, 20, will also be obliged to complete a sex-offender management programme while in jail and will be a register sex offender for the rest of his life.
The petition to remove Judge Persky is being led by Stanford law professor Michele Dauber, who said that the sentence is insulting to sexual assault survivors.
“[Persky] has made women at Stanford and across California less safe,” Dauber told The Guardian newspaper.
“The judge bent over backwards in order to make an exception, and the message to women and students is: ‘You’re on your own.’ The message to potential perpetrators is, ‘I’ve got your back,’” Dauber added.
The legal professor’s comments were supported by the local District Attorney Jeff Rosen, who claimed the “punishment does not fit the crime.”
Rosen added: “Ultimately, the fact the defendant preyed upon an intoxicated stranger on a college campus should not be viewed as less serious than an intoxicated stranger in downtown Palo Alto.”
In her victim’s impact statement made to the court after Turner had been found guilty, the woman he assaulted wrote candidly about how she learned for the first time while reading the news what had happened to her. Turner protested his innocence throughout the trial, claiming his victim consented.
“You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice,” she told the court.
Turner’s father Dan also addressed the judge on behalf of his son, writing a letter asking for leniency in his son’s sentence.
“His life will never be the one that he dreamed... That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action,” Turner's father wrote.