Stanford sexual assault: embattled judge removed from similar case amid outcry
Aaron Persky, who declined to send Brock Turner to prison, was removed from an alike case amid concerns about his ability to fairly participate in the proceeding
The judge who gave a lenient sentence to a former Stanford student convicted of sexual assault has been removed from a similar case due to prosecutors concerns about his ability to fairly participate in the proceeding.
Judge Aaron Persky, who declined to send former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner to prison for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, has been taken off of a case involving a male nurse who sexually assaulted an anesthetized female patient, according to local prosecutors.
The Santa Clara County district attorneys office, which successfully prosecuted Turner, has utilized a tactic known as papering a judge, which means prosecutors preemptively declared that Persky is prejudiced, automatically disqualifying him from the case.
The removal of Persky, who is facing a recall campaign over his decision in the Stanford case, speaks to the intense scrutiny facing the northern California judge since he sentenced Turner to six months in county jail instead of the minimum of two years in state prison prescribed by law.
Two weeks after the 2 June sentencing, which went viral when the victim released her emotional impact statement, Persky was responsible for overseeing a new misdemeanor case involving stolen property, according to the district attorney.
Persky dismissed that case before a jury deliberated in a move that surprised prosecutors. That decision, combined with the judges controversial actions in the Stanford case, led the district attorneys office to take the unusual step of exercising its authority to remove Persky from the new sexual assault case involving the nurse.
We are disappointed and puzzled at Judge Perskys unusual decision to unilaterally dismiss a case before the jury could deliberate, the district attorneys office said in a statement to the Guardian. 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.
The statement emphasized that prosecutors would assess upcoming proceedings on a case-by-case basis, and noted that this is a rare and carefully considered step for our Office.
A spokesperson for the district attorneys office declined to comment beyond the statement, and a spokesperson for Persky did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday night.
The nurse case appears to have similarities to the Stanford trial, in which Turner was convicted of sexually penetrating an intoxicated and unconscious person with a foreign object and committing assault with intent to rape.
Since the sentencing decision, Persky has faced widespread backlash, including public criticisms from a juror, state lawmakers, student activists and others. Some local public defenders, however, have come to his defense and argued that he is a consistently fair judge to defendants.
Michele Landis Dauber, a Stanford law professor heading the recall campaign, said the prosecutors decision in the nurse assault case highlights the importance of the effort to remove Persky from office.
This is just further reason for concern and further evidence that its very important that we are able to put his continued tenure on the court before the voters. Thats why we are pursuing the recall.