The judge who had so much sympathy for Brock Turner is facing a recall campaign.
The light sentencing, along with comments from Turner’s father, who said his son is paying a “steep price” for “20 minutes of action”, have sparked global consternation.
In a brief phone interview with the Guardian on Monday, the victim, whose emotional testimony has since gone viral, said the positive responses to her statement have been moving. “I’m worried that my heart is going to grow too big for my chest,” she said. “I’ve just been overwhelmed and speechless.”
The Guardian can also reveal that the judge who gave the former Stanford athlete the light sentence will now face a recall campaign led by a law professor at the elite university who argues the jurist took extraordinary measures to allow the student to avoid prison.
That is, by Michele Dauber, whose tweets I shared this morning.
Further scrutiny on the judge’s remarks at sentencing appear to suggest he concluded the defendant had “less moral culpability” because he was drunk, and that a light sentence would be an “antidote” to the anxiety he had suffered from intense media attention on the case.
Michele Landis Dauber, a Stanford law professor who has been outspoken about sexual assault policies on campus, said she is launching the recall campaign against Aaron Persky, Santa Clara County superior court judge.
Persky, a Stanford alumnus, was captain of the lacrosse team when he was an undergraduate.
Ah. Was he. So it’s bros sticking up for bros because hey, skill at sports is that important. Sport builds character – the kind of character that prevents athletes from ever bullying or harming other people oh wait.
“He has made women at Stanford and across California less safe,” said Dauber, who attended the sentencing hearing and is also a family friend of the 23-year-old victim. “The judge bent over backwards in order to make an exception … and the message to women and students is ‘you’re on your own,’ and the message to potential perpetrators is, ‘I’ve got your back.’”
The message to women is “you don’t count, only men count, and athletic white men count triple. Slut.”
Turner could have faced a maximum of 14 years in state prison, and in order to allow the defendant to avoid prison time altogether, the judge had to determine that this was an “unusual case where the interests of justice would best be served” by a lenient sentence.
Which is weird, because what’s unusual about it in a way that makes it a good idea to give him a lenient sentence? Is there some stipulation in the law that if the victim drank too much before the rape then it becomes only sort of kind of rape, friendly rape, nice rape, humanistic rape?
After the victim delivered a detailed account about how the assault and ensuing trial traumatized her and her family, the judge issued the light county jail punishment and justified making an exception with a speech that onlookers said was unusually sympathetic to the defendant.
“Obviously, the prison sentence would have a severe impact on him,” Persky said in court. “The defendant is youthful and has no significant record of prior criminal offenses.”
That was his response to her statement. It’s mind-blowing.
Persky also noted that news coverage of the case had significantly impacted Turner, saying: “The media attention that has been given to this case has in a way sort of poisoned the lives of the people that have been affected. … The question I’ve asked myself is … ‘Is state prison for this defendant an antidote to that poison?’”
What about her? What about her? What about her?
The judge seemed to show some sympathy to Turner’s perspective. “I take him at his word that subjectively that’s his version of his events. … I’m not convinced that his lack of complete acquiescence to the verdict should count against him,” he said.
Dauber said she was further shocked to see Persky minimize the significance of the guilty verdicts, which came from a jury of eight men and four women. The judge said at sentencing: “A trial is a search for the truth. It’s an imperfect process.”
Persky also appeared to rely heavily on letters that Turner’s friends and family sent and read an excerpt from a former classmate who told the judge she couldn’t believe the assault allegations.
“To me that just rings true,” the judge said. “It sort of corroborates the evidence of his character up until the night of this incident, which has been positive.”
The letter in question, however, includes a lengthy rant that places blame on the woman for being attacked: “I’m sure she and Brock had been flirting at this party and decided to leave together … I don’t think it’s fair to base the fate of the next ten + years of his life on the decision of a girl who doesn’t remember anything but the amount she drank. … Where do we draw the line and stop worrying about being politically correct every second of the day and see that rape on campuses isn’t always because people are rapists.”
Persky repeatedly emphasized the effect the case has had on Turner, at one point saying: “The character letters that have been submitted do show a huge collateral consequence for Mr Turner.”
You’d think it was vandalism or a parking violation or returning a library book late. The guy grabbed a human being who was unconscious and raped her – where is the judge’s sympathy for the huge NOT SO collateral consequence for her? What about her??
In her letter to the judge, Dauber wrote that Stanford’s surveys have found that 43% of female undergraduates have experienced sexual assault or misconduct, and that more than two-thirds of them said perpetrators took advantage of intoxicated victims. But only 2.7% of students who experienced assault or nonconsensual sexual contact reported it to the university.
Turner’s sentencing only does further damage, Dauber added, noting that she has observed nonviolent drug offenders receive much harsher treatment by judges.
“Aaron Persky is telling these women don’t bother calling police. Even if you get through a trial and even if you manage to get a conviction, I will not impose a serious sanction,” Dauber said.
Because you’re just a woman. Women don’t matter.