Meet The Judge Who Sentenced Brock Turner

by Katherine Speller

The internet has been closely following the case of Brock Turner, a Stanford student convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious young woman behind a dumpster at a party. When the time came for sentencing, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky handed down a sentence of six months in jail, in addition to being required to register as a sex offender. Persky remarked that "a prison sentence would have a severe impact on [Turner]" and that he believed Turner "will not be a danger to others," earning the ire of activists, sexual assault advocates and citizens alike across the country — particularly those who read the emotional, now-viral statement from Turner's victim,

But, who is Judge Persky? According to a biography he wrote for the California League of Women Voters, Persky, like Turner, attended Stanford as an undergraduate, though he played on the lacrosse team (and later served as an assistant coach). He received his J.D. from the UC Berkeley School of Law. According to the Santa Clara County Bar Association's website, Persky began his work in the Santa Clara County D.A.'s Office, trying cases of "sexually violent predators" and was appointed to the bench in 2003 by Gov. Gray Davis.

However, Persky is now known across the country for this infamous trial and for giving Turner, 20, a decidedly lenient sentence. The maximum Turner faced was 14 years, and District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement that he was disappointed in Persky's decision:

The punishment does not fit the crime. The predatory offender has failed to take responsibility, failed to show remorse and failed to tell the truth. 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. And I will prosecute it as such.

As of now, there are multiple petitions seeking to have him removed from his seat and Turner's sentence increased. The petition calling for Persky to be recalled, which has already garnered over 57,900 as of Tuesday afternoon, argues that Persky's ruling was far too gentle on Turner, compared to the lasting suffering and the long road to healing for his victim:

Brock Allen Turner is the Stanford swimmer who was convicted of 3 counts of sexual assault (he was caught in the act by witnesses) but was only sentenced to 6 months in jail because Judge Aaron Persky was concerned about the "impact" jail time would have on his future. Meanwhile his victim is sentenced to a life of trying to overcome trauma and regain a sense of safety and self-worth. This judge is dangerous and those who abet rapists should not have a place in our judicial system.

Persky is currently up for re-election and is running unopposed.