PALO ALTO (KPIX 5) – While Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky is facing an intense and ongoing backlash against his decision to sentence Brock Turner to six months for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman at Stanford, the judge is not without his defenders.
“I think the sentence is fair,” said Santa Clara County Public Defender Molly O’Neal.
O’Neal may be one of very few people to believe that the sentence was the right call. She has a reputation as both a feminist and a fierce defender of the people she represents.
“This was a rough decision for Judge Persky to make. But Mr. Turner is, in fact, going to go to jail,” said O’Neal. “He’s a convicted felon. He will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.”
The judge’s decision to sentence Turner to six months ignited worldwide controversy after the victim’s letter to the court and her attacker went viral. Since then, Persky has received threatening phone calls, been criticized as biased and tens of thousands have signed petitions urging his removal from the bench.
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But even one of Persky’s most outspoken critics, prosecutor Alaleh Kianerci, believes that is taking things too far.
“He was absolutely neutral during the trial,” said Kianerci. “We just don’t agree with his sentence. But I don’t think being a Stanford grad has anything to do with it.”
While enormous attention has been focused on how much time turner will spend behind bars — likely three months of a six-month sentence — O’Neal said the judge almost certainly considered the implications of having to register as a sex offender.
“I think Judge Persky heard all the testimony — weighed all of the considerations he’s required to by law — and arrived at a sentence through a fair process,” said O’Neal.