The judge in the infamous, heartbreaking Brock Turner rape case may be facing a recall as a petition for his removal from the bench gains serious momentum. But not all are on board.
Almost two years ago, most of the country waited with bated breath to watch as news of soon-to-become convicted rapist Brock Turner's sentence was released to the public.
He was given six months jail time, but he was released after serving only three for good behavior.
The judge who decided the sentencing, Aaron Persky, was slammed — to put it lightly — with criticism.
The sexual assault case in which everything was done "right" with multiple eye-witnesses, rape kits, and ample proof, left people wondering how on Earth someone who had committed an act so vile could possibly walk away seemingly scot-free.
But the answer appeared clear as day.
Fury scorched the country like wildfire, and people transformed their anger into action, placing a well-deserved target on Persky's back.
Following the end of Turner's practically non-existent jail sentence, citizens and elected officials alike protested outside of the Hall of Justice in San Jose, screaming for Persky to be recalled.
The effort, spearheaded by Stanford law professor Michele Dauber, organized a petition that within 160 days had 95,000 signatures, of which only 53,634 signatures were required.
This will send Persky's seat on the bench up to a vote in the next statewide election come June 5, and if Persky is recalled, he will be only the third judge to experience removal since recalling became an option in the 1900s.
But efforts include much more than a petition. Sixteen state legislators have come forward to demand an investigation of Persky for misconduct. The feminist organization UltraViolet has had more than a million members sign an online petition voicing their support in addition to hiring a plane to fly over Stanford's graduation ceremony reading, "Protect Survivors. Not Rapists. #PerskyMustGo," and has paid for a nearby freeway billboard that delivers the same message.
In the weeks and months following Turner's sentencing, Persky had remained silent on his decision. But now, as the recall becomes imminent and his job dangles by a thread, he has finally decided to step forward and defend his decision. (Eye roll.)
"As a prosecutor, I fought vigorously for victims," Persky stated. "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."
"The truth is Persky has exhibited a pattern of bias in favor of sex abusers, especially those who are athletes or upper class," wrote John Shallman, who is working pro-bono as a political consultant for Persky's recall. "In one case, Persky allowed two student athletes convicted of violently attacking women to play football instead of going to jail. In another case, he allowed a high-tech engineer who brutally beat his fiancee to serve jail on the weekends, and once sentenced a white man convicted of felony child pornography to only four days in jail."
Shallman added: "Meanwhile, Persky sentenced a poor Latino man to three years in jail for a very similar crime to that committed by Brock Turner. Why? Because Turner was a white, privileged Stanford athlete — just like Aaron Persky. So much for judicial independence."
Dauber, who has helped spearhead the recall, has also stepped forward to condemn Persky.
"Judge Persky did not just make a single bad decision," Dauber said. "He made a slew of bad decisions involving sex crimes and violence against women."
On the opposite end of the spectrum, however, those against Persky's recall have stepped forward to state that while they believe Turner's sentence was horrifically irresponsible, the judge's recall is just as misguided.
Those who have taken this stance have claimed that Persky has a clear history of sparing low-level offenders of color, citing an instance in which Persky sentenced a black woman who was facing two years in prison to 120 days on a work crew instead.
Others who oppose the suggested recall espouse the contention that judges should not fear for their jobs if their decision is unpopular.
However, it's safe to say that when a judge's decision is so egregious, those who voted Persky onto the bench have every right to question his capabilities as a judge and make a decision based on that evaluation.
Ultimately, regardless of the decision that's made surrounding Persky come June 5, one message stands tall and clear for rapists, assaulters, harassers, and all of those willing to give them leniency or a slap on the wrist: Time's Up.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters, Stephen Lam