California Votes to Recall The Judge Who Gave Brock Turner a Six-Month Sentence For Sexual Assault

Don't let the door hit your misogynist ass on the way out, Mr. Persky

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In yesterday’s California primary election, voters in Santa Clara County removed Judge Aaron Persky who made national headlines when he granted convicted rapist Brock Turner a shockingly lenient sentence of six months behind bars. Nearly 60% of voters supported the removal of Persky, which will be the first time a judge has been recalled in California in 87 years.

The former Stanford University swimmer was convicted on three felony counts for sexually assaulting a woman behind a dumpster at a fraternity party in 2015. While prosecutors argued for a six year sentence, Turner only ended up serving three months and had to register as a sex offender. Persky’s ruling was widely criticized as unjust, and soon after his ruling people were calling for his dismissal. Stanford University Law School professor Michele Dauber chaired the campaign to recall Judge Persky, and said of his recall:

“Tonight many, many voters voted against the culture of impunity for high-status perpetrators of sexual assault or domestic violence. This election expresses clearly that sexual assault, sexual violence is serious and it has to be taken seriously by elected officials. It’s a historical moment when women across all sectors of society are standing up saying, ‘Enough is enough.’”

Persky’s ruling was one we’ve seen play out many times before: a white male judge going easy on an elite white male athlete. In response to the public outcry, the California legislature revised their penal code to require that judges must give those convicted of sexual assault actual prison time rather than probation or jail.

The Brock Turner case made national headlines when Persky’s ruling came down in the spring of 2016. Just months later, America would elect an admitted sexual harasser to its highest office. Looking back, the Turner case was one of many injustices and indignities that snowballed into the #MeToo Movement. Here’s hoping that Persky’s recall brings hope to victims of assault and some long overdue peace to Turner’s survivor. Let this be a reminder: every vote matters.

(via Washington Post, image: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.