California political leaders have called on voters to recall Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky, after swimmer Brock Turner was released from jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman in 2015, reports the Los Angeles Times. “Today, Brock Turner is a free man,” said U.S. Senate candidate Loretta Sanchez, standing across from the county jail with more than a dozen lawmakers, advocates, and local leaders. “And yet women who have been sexually assaulted are still prisoners of fear.” There was international outrage in June when Persky sentenced Turner to six months in jail and three years of probation. The judge has moved to civil court at his own request. For critics who wish to oust him from the bench, that is not enough.
State and national leaders decried a culture of rape in society that places the blame of sexual violence on survivors. They said judges like Persky, who show a bias in favor of offenders with wealth and status over sex crime survivors, feed into a criminal justice system that often fails victims. Democratic U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell, a former Oakland prosecutor, said decisions like Persky’s damage the promise that prosecutors make to victims: that if they take their offenders to trial, their assailants will be held accountable. Turner was convicted of three felony counts. The maximum penalty was 14 years in prison; prosecutors sought a six-year term. Persky opted for the lighter sentence, saying a lengthier penalty would have a “severe impact” on Turner. The Recall Persky Campaign says it has found a pattern of bias in the punishment the judge has imposed in sex crimes against women.