The Judge Who Sentenced Brock Turner to 6 Months for Rape Compares His “Unpopularity” to School Desegregation
When Brock Turner was convicted on three counts of felony sexual assault, the maximum punishment for his crimes was 14 years in prison. But the judge in the case, Aaron Persky, chose to sentence Turner to only six months. He was released after three. While there’s satisfaction and comfort in the relatively rare act of seeing a rapist found guilty (and to see the powerful words of the woman he assaulted go so mega-viral), that wisp of a slap on the wrist was a direct reminder that rape culture still very much exists.
Persky faced huge backlash for his decision, including being removed from a subsequent rape case. He’s also facing an upcoming recall vote, and he’s not happy about it. In fact, he seems to think that in the annals of history, he’ll be seen as the hero of this story. And I’m talking Civil Rights, school desegregation-level hero.
In a press conference, Persky said “Brown v. Board of Education was unpopular in many states. Imagine for a moment if those federal judges had been faced with judicial recall in the face of that unpopularity.” He added, “We ask judges to follow the rule of law, not the rule of public opinion.”
1. That’s ridiculous and Persky is an absurd person, but 2. In giving Turner the lightest possible sentence, he was not upholding the rule of law; he was indicating that he did not agree with the jury’s ruling. This sort of leniency is something that he has a history of doing in sentencing men accused of abuse.
This brings to mind the recent protests in Spain, which saw thousands of people flooding the streets in recent weeks. Five men, dubbed “The Wolf Pack,” were accused of raping an 18-year-old woman during a running of the bulls festival. They even filmed it on their phones, but they were cleared of rape charges, and were instead convicted of the lesser charge of sexual abuse.
The judge in that case has come under heavy fire for allowing the defense to provide evidence regarding the woman’s personal life and character, yet he didn’t allow into evidence a text conversation between the men in which they reportedly discussed their plans to rape women at the festival. The defense’s argument was centered on the fact that the woman had her eyes closed, seen somehow as a sign of consent, and that she could, theoretically, have enjoyed the assault.
That. Is. Rape. Culture.
Judges are supposed to uphold the law, but they can still apply their own biases. The judge that presided over literal garbage Larry Nassar’s trial was criticized by some for not hiding her disdain for his long, atrocious history of sexual predation on young gymnasts. (Likely, those are many of the same people staying silent on Persky’s behavior.)
For Persky to not only claim that he is unbiased and just following “the rule of law,” but to compare his position to a civil rights milestone, is ludicrous. Stanford Law School Professor Michele Dauber is leading the charge in the recall efforts, and as she put it in talking to BuzzFeed, “In Brown, the Supreme Court bravely ruled with the powerless against the powerful. In Brock Turner’s case, Persky did the exact opposite.”
(via BuzzFeed, image: GABRIELLE LURIE/AFP/Getty Images)
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