Earlier this week, the voters of Santa Clara County removed the California judge who sentenced former Stanford University student Brock Turner to only six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious women behind a dumpster.
Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky was removed by Santa Clara County from the bench with 59.6 percent of voters supporting his removal. Persky, 56, had served on the court since 2003.
“Tonight many, many voters voted against the culture of impunity for high-status perpetrators of sexual assault or domestic violence,” said Stanford professor and chair of the Recall Judge Aaron Persky Campaign Michele Dauber.
“This election expresses clearly that sexual assault, sexual violence is serious and it has to be taken seriously by elected officials,” Dauber continued. “It’s a historical moment when women across all sectors of society are standing up saying, ‘Enough is enough.’”
The removal of Persky did not come without criticism. A number of supporters of the former judge are arguing that this could set a precedent for the erosion of the democratic process of a trail and could cause other judges and courts to impose longer sentences out of fear of backlash.
“As a prosecutor, I fought vigorously for victims. As a judge, my role is to consider both sides. California law requires every judge to consider rehabilitation and probation for first-time offenders. It’s not always popular, but it’s the law, and I took an oath to follow it without regard to public opinion or my opinions as a former prosecutor,” Persky said in a statement.
During his trial, Turner admitted to digitally penetrating his unconscious victim but claimed the act was consensual. Even though the jury found him guilty of assault with intent to commit rape, the judge sentenced him to only six months in jail and probation.
Turner was released after serving only three months. He was also required to register as a sex offender.
But according to The Guardian, Persky wasn’t so lenient with Raul Ramirez, a 32-year-old immigrant from El Salvador who was convicted of sexually assaulting his roommate. In a deal approved by Persky, Ramirez was sentenced to three years.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the vote to remove Pesky marked 87 years since the removal of a judge in the state of California.