SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — A group seeking to oust Aaron Persky, the Santa Clara County Superior Court judge who sentenced a convicted sexual assailant and former Stanford University swimmer to six months in county jail last year, filed a notice of intent to circulate a recall petition Monday morning.
Brock Turner, now 21, a Stanford dropout and a registered sex offender, served three months at San Jose’s Main Jail last year after a jury convicted him of assault with intent to commit rape, sexual penetration of an intoxicated person with a foreign object—namely, his finger—and sexual penetration of an unconscious person with a foreign object.
“Turner lied in court and never expressed remorse,” the notice of intent, filed this morning at the Registrar of Voters in San Jose, reads. “Santa Clara County residents deserve a judge who will protect victims, not rapists.”
The Turner attack took place on the ground outside a fraternity party after midnight on Jan. 18, 2015, before two Swedish graduate students who saw Turner on top of the unconscious woman halted it.
Once county officials approve the petition, campaigners have 160 days to collect 58,634 signatures in order to qualify for the June 2018 county ballot.
Advocates at a news conference in San Jose Monday morning said thousands of volunteers will surpass that minimum number to collect 90,000 signatures.
Stanford Law School professor Michele Dauber, chair of the Recall Persky Campaign, has collected 50 signatures from leaders in the county, more than the 20 required to submit the notice of intent, including San Jose Vice Mayor Magdalena Carrasco, City Councilman Raul Peralez and Milpitas Mayor Rich Tran.
“Violence against women is a voting issue. We are going to vote ‘no’ on rape culture,” Dauber said. “We aren’t going to stop with the recall of Aaron Persky.”
The recall would be the first recall of a judge in Santa Clara County, Dauber said. Both prior successful judicial recalls in California, in 1913 in San Francisco and 1932 in Los Angeles, have involved bias.
Dauber compared the Recall Persky Campaign to the 1913 recall of San Francisco Police Court Judge Charles Weller, who had reduced bail for a man charged with felony assault of a 16-year-old girl.
Women’s clubs, whose members had won the right to vote in California in 1911, led the charge on Weller’s recall.
Opponents of the recall effort include retired California Superior Court Judge and former San Jose Independent Police Auditor LaDoris Cordell, who has spoken out about the impact of mandatory sentencing on perpetuating the mass incarceration of people of color and the poor.
The notice of intent lists three prior cases in which Persky has given lenient sentences for violence against women to college athletes and a Silicon Valley engineer, and to a man convicted on a child pornography felony charge.
“This happens repeatedly throughout this county,” said Kathy Spillar, executive director of the Feminist Majority Foundation.
District Attorney Jeff Rosen filed a motion to have Persky removed from another sexual assault case after the Turner decision. Persky has since been transferred to civil court at his own request.
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