Former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner was sentenced to six months in county jail last week for raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster on campus. Judge Aaron Persky's ruling stated that more jail time would have a "severe impact" on Turner. A petition with over 500,000 signatures is attempting to remove Persky from his position, and according to The Mercury News, this isn't the first time he's gone easy on someone accused of rape.
Ironically, when Persky first ran for Santa Clara County Superior Court in 2002, his campaign biography read, "I focus on the prosecution of sexually violent predators, working to keep the most dangerous sex offenders in custody in mental hospitals." The League of Women Voters circulated the bio, and the Santa Clara County Bar Association's Women Lawyers Committee endorsed him.
But in 2011, he made his first controversial ruling. Nine members of the De Anza College baseball team were accused of gang raping a 17-year-old girl, who was found unconscious and covered in vomit during the incident. A court report by The Mercury News reads, "Judge Aaron Persky ruled before lunch that [defendant Christopher] Knopf can show the jury seven photos of the woman, whom the court is calling Jane Doe, partying about a year or so after the alleged gang rape. In the photos, she is scantily clad, wearing a garter belt and what appear to be fishnet stockings. In one picture, a boy appears to be straddling her as she lies on a bed in what looks like a dorm room. Everyone in the photos is smiling and playing around, enjoying themselves." The jury ruled that the team members were not guilty.
Between the athlete status of the accused and Persky's reluctance to punish them, this case and Turner's bear some striking similarities.