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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)
When Judge Aaron Persky sentenced a Stanford swimmer from Oakwood High School in Dayton who sexually assaulted a woman behind a dumpster to six months in jail, critics came up with a slew of reasons for what they viewed as a frustratingly lenient punishment.
Persky, they said, was biased against women and didn't take sex assault seriously. They accused him of giving Brock Turner a light sentence because he was affluent and white. They even said Persky was biased because he, too, had been a student-athlete at Stanford.
But as the criticism against the judge intensified — aided by a stirring letter written by the victim, who said Turner "took away my worth" — Per-sky remained silent.
Now, almost a year later, as the judge is fighting an energized effort to recall him, he has started to speak publicly in his defense.
That includes a 198-word statement filed with the Santa Clara County registrar's office last week. The statement doesn't mention Turner's case by name but alludes to Persky's efforts to balance rehabilitation and probation for first-time offenders.
If approved by the registrar, it will appear on the ballot that voters will see as they decide whether Persky deserves to keep his job.
The San Jose Mercury-Mews posted the entire statement on its website:
"As a prosecutor, I fought vigorously for victims. As a judge, my role is to consider both sides. California law requires every judge to consider rehabilitation and probation for first-time offenders. It's not always popular, but it's the law, and I took an oath to follow it without regard to public opinion or my opinions as a former prosecutor."
In March 2016, Turner was convicted of three sex crimes — all felonies — after he sexually assaulted a woman who'd passed out behind a dumpster outside a frat party.
Two graduate students saw the crime in progress and confronted Turner, who tried to run away. The graduate students caught and pinned Turner to the ground and called police.
The trial made national headlines, but its ending was controversial. For the felonies, Persky sentenced Turner to six months in jail. Because of good behavior, he was released after three.
The short stint in jail angered many people, who said it was too small a price to pay for sexually assaulting a woman.
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