Aaron Persky, the California judge under fire for what some consider a lenient sentence for former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner, has been removed from hearing an upcoming sexual assault trial.
Turner was convicted of three sexual assault charges earlier this year, stemming from an incident in January of 2015 in which Turner, then a freshman at Stanford, was found on top of a woman’s body behind a dumpster. Two bikers noticed the woman did not appear to be moving and confronted Turner, who fled. By the time they caught and detained Turner and returned to the woman’s body, she was found to be unconscious.
Earlier this month, Persky handed Turner a 6-month jail sentence, along with probation. Turner will also have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Later reports (and the release date listed on the Santa Clara County website) suggest that Turner could spend as little as three months in jail.
Many commenters on social media blasted the sentence as overly lenient. The charges could have carried up to 10 years in prison, and the prosecution pushed for a 6-month prison sentence. An online petition was also created to recall Persky from his position based on the sentence.
Now, NPR reports that Persky was removed from an upcoming case, unrelated to Turner’s but also dealing with sexual assault.
Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen filed a peremptory challenge this week to prevent Persky from deciding whether the new case should go to trial. The new case deals with a surgical nurse who is accused of sexually assaulting a sedated patient.
Rosen (who also represented the prosecution in the Turner case) filed his challenge on Tuesday, one day after Persky dismissed charges against a woman accused of misdemeanor theft. Mercury News calls that dismissal an “unusual step” and Rosen also reacted critically.
“We are disappointed and puzzled at Judge Persky’s unusual decision to unilaterally dismiss a case before the jury could deliberate,” Rosen said in the NPR piece. “After this and the recent turn of events, we lack confidence that Judge Persky can fairly participate in this upcoming hearing in which a male nurse sexually assaulted an anesthetized female patient.”
NPR was unable to reach Persky for comment on the removal.