PALO ALTO (BCN) — A petition circulating online is calling for the removal of a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge who organizers say gave a “lenient sentence” to a former Stanford University swimmer convicted of sexually assaulting a woman last year.
Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Brock Allen Turner, 20, to six months in county jail for the assault during a fraternity party at the private college on Jan. 18, 2015.
Turner received the sentence during a hearing Thursday at the Palo Alto Courthouse.
Turner was convicted in March of three felony counts of rape of an unconscious person, digital penetration with an unconscious person and assault with the intent to commit rape.
As of Monday night, more than 160,000 people have signed the appeal on Change.org to remove Persky over Turner’s sentence.
The page calls on people to file a complaint in court alleging “appearance of bias toward a particular class,” based on Persky’s sentence for Turner.
“Judge Persky failed to see that the fact that Brock Turner is a white male star athlete at a prestigious university does not entitle him to leniency,” the petition states.
The sentence “failed to send the message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class, race, gender or other factors,” the petition states.
Persky was appointed to a judgeship by then-Gov. Gray Davis in 2003 and previously worked with the county district attorney’s office, according to his Santa Clara County Bar Association online profile.
The judge is unable to comment on the matter because Turner is appealing the case, court officials said.
Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement today that the judge should not be removed from his position.
“While I strongly disagree with the sentence that Judge Persky issued in the Brock Turner case I do not believe he should be removed from his judgeship,” Rosen said.
The victim read a statement during Thursday’s sentencing hearing that in part read, “You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.”
The woman went on to say, “The damage is done, no one can undo it. And now we both have a choice. We can let this destroy us, I can remain angry and hurt and you can be in denial, or we can face it head on, I accept the pain, you accept the punishment, and we move on.”
The full written statement by the victim has been shared widely on social media in the days after the hearing, increasing attention on the case.
“I am so pleased that the victim’s powerful and true statements about the devastation of campus sexual assault are being heard across our nation. She has given voice to thousands of sexual assault survivors,” Rosen said.
The assault happened on campus outside the Kappa Alpha house where two passersby saw Turner having sex with a woman who appeared to be unconscious.
The woman was taken to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, where she woke up later in the morning and told investigators she was drinking outside the home and couldn’t remember anything after midnight.
Turner told investigators he and the woman met at the party, kissed outside on the ground and had sex that he thought was consensual.
The ex-star swimmer also informed investigators that he consumed alcohol, which included seven beers and some whiskey, during the party but was conscious during the intercourse.
Turner is from Dayton, Ohio, and withdrew from Stanford University after charges were filed against him last year.