Petition to axe California judge over Stanford sexual assault case

  • 07/06/2016
Brock Turner (Stanford University's Department of Public Safety)
Brock Turner (Stanford University's Department of Public Safety)

More than 220,000 people have signed a petition calling for a Californian judge to step down, after sentencing former Stanford University student Brock Turner to six months' jail.

Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky's sentence for the former Stanford swimmer -- convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on campus after both attended a fraternity party -- is being seen as a slap on the wrist.

Turner was sentenced to six months in county jail and three years' probation. He must also complete a sex offender management programme and register as a convicted sex offender for the rest of his life.

The woman who was assaulted read the court an emotional statement, which has gone viral and sparked outrage around the world.

A petition calling for Judge Persky to be removed from his position is being led by Stanford law professor Michele Dauber, who says the sentence is an insult to sexual assault victims.

"He has made women at Stanford and across California less safe," Prof Dauber told The Guardian.

"The judge bent over backwards in order to make an exception, and the message to women and students is, 'You're on your own.' The message to potential perpetrators is, 'I've got your back.'"

"The punishment does not fit the crime," says Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen. "This predatory offender failed to take responsibility or show remorse, failed to tell the truth.

"Ultimately, the fact the defendant preyed upon an intoxicated stranger on a college campus should not be viewed as less serious than an intoxicated stranger in downtown Palo Alto."

Defence attorney Mike Armstrong agrees.

"If my daughter was a victim, I'd be livid.  I'd be asking for a very serious punishment."

In the victim's letter, the woman admits to drinking too much at fraternity party and blacking out. She was discovered nearly naked on the ground behind a dumpster. Turner claimed she consented.

She wrote: "His attorney constantly reminded the jury, the only one we can believe is Brock, because she doesn't remember. That helplessness was traumatising."

Addressing her attacker she said: "You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice."

Alaleh Kianerci was the prosecutor in the case.

"Her words resonated with people, not just locally or in our county but across the nation and all over the world," she says.

"I cried. I felt like I didn't do my part in representing her interests in the case because of the slap-on-the-wrist sentence."

The sentence came after Turner's father made his own appeal to the judge: "His life will never be the one that he dreamed... That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action."

Newshub. / CBS News