SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A California agency that oversees judicial discipline in the state ruled Monday that a judge committed no misconduct when he sentenced former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner to six months in jail for sexually assaulting a young woman on campus.
The California Commission on Judicial Performance said was evidence that Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky displayed bias in handing down a sentence decried as too lenient by critics across the country.
“The commission has concluded that there is not clear and convincing evidence of bias, abuse of authority, or other basis to conclude that Judge Persky engaged in judicial misconduct warranting discipline,” the 11-member panel concluded in its unsigned ruling.
The commission said it received thousands of complaints and petitions regarding Persky and the sentence.
The petitions included complaints that Persky “displayed gender bias and failed to take sexual assault of women seriously,” and showed favoritism to Turner because the judge was a former Stanford athlete as well.
Turner, 21, was released from jail in September after serving three months. He will be on probation for three years in his native Ohio and is a registered sex offender.
Persky is the target of a recall campaign. In a statement, the recall campaign committee chair said her group would proceed with the recall effort. “We strongly disagree with the Commission’s conclusion on judicial bias and we believe that Judge Persky has in fact demonstrated a clear pattern of bias in cases of sex crimes and violence against women,” said Michele Dauber.
Turner was convicted of assaulting the woman near a trash bin after they drank heavily at a fraternity party. The woman had passed out and Turner was on top of her when confronted by two graduate students passing by on bicycles. They chased and tackled him when he tried to flee, holding him on the ground until police arrived.
A jury in March found Turner guilty of three felony sexual assault counts. Persky sentenced him to six months in jail, citing the “extraordinary circumstances” of Turner’s youth, clean criminal record and other considerations in departing from the minimum sentence of two years in prison. Prosecutors had argued for six years.
Turner’s case exploded on social media and ignited a debate about campus rape and the criminal justice system after the victim’s 7,200-word letter that she read in the courtroom during sentencing was published online.
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