Recall Campaign to try getting Stanford Judge removed over light sentencing


#1

From: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jun/06/stanford-sexual-assault-judge-recall

I figure best to discuss this one.

The victim of a sexual assault by a former Stanford University swimmer said on Monday she was “overwhelmed and speechless” at the deluge of support for her as the judge who gave her attacker a light sentence faced a recall campaign.

Brock Allen Turner, 20, who was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on campus, was sentenced to six months in county jail and probation – a punishment that is significantly less severe than the minimum prison time of two years prescribed by state law for his felony offenses.

The light sentencing, along with comments from Turner’s father, who said his son is paying a “steep price” for “20 minutes of action”, have sparked global consternation.

Brock Turner. Photograph: Santa Clara County sheriff’s department
In a brief phone interview with the Guardian on Monday, the victim, whose emotional testimony has since gone viral, said the positive responses to her statement have been moving. “I’m worried that my heart is going to grow too big for my chest,” she said. “I’ve just been overwhelmed and speechless.”

The Guardian can also reveal that the judge who gave the former Stanford athlete the light sentence will now face a recall campaign led by a law professor at the elite university who argues the jurist took extraordinary measures to allow the student to avoid prison.

Further scrutiny on the judge’s remarks at sentencing appear to suggest he concluded the defendant had “less moral culpability” because he was drunk, and that a light sentence would be an “antidote” to the anxiety he had suffered from intense media attention on the case.

Michele Landis Dauber, a Stanford law professor who has been outspoken about sexual assault policies on campus, said she is launching the recall campaign against Aaron Persky, Santa Clara County superior court judge.

Persky, a Stanford alumnus, was captain of the lacrosse team when he was an undergraduate.

“He has made women at Stanford and across California less safe,” said Dauber, who attended the sentencing hearing and is also a family friend of the 23-year-old victim. “The judge bent over backwards in order to make an exception … and the message to women and students is ‘you’re on your own,’ and the message to potential perpetrators is, ‘I’ve got your back.’”

Turner, who is from Dayton, Ohio, was arrested on the Palo Alto campus on 18 January 2015 after two graduate students found him lying on top of the unconscious victim behind a dumpster outside of a fraternity party.

The woman, who was not a Stanford student, was partially clothed, had a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit, and did not remember the assault when she awoke hours later.

The witnesses, who intervened and held Turner until police arrived, said they saw him “thrusting” on top of the motionless woman, and a jury ultimately convicted him of assault with intent to rape an intoxicated woman and sexually penetrating an intoxicated and unconscious person with a foreign object.

There is less moral culpability attached to the defendant who is … intoxicated.

  • Judge Aaron Persky

The case attracted interest across the country, in part because campus sexual assaults rarely lead to criminal prosecutions and convictions. It comes at a time when advocates have increasingly spoken out about the epidemic of sexual violence and harassment on US college campuses – including a string of sexual assault cases at nearby University of California, Berkeley.

Turner could have faced a maximum of 14 years in state prison, and in order to allow the defendant to avoid prison time altogether, the judge had to determine that this was an “unusual case where the interests of justice would best be served” by a lenient sentence.

Brock Turner (right) makes his way into the Santa Clara superior courthouse in Palo Alto, California on 2 June. Photograph: Dan Honda/AP
After the victim delivered a detailed account about how the assault and ensuing trial traumatized her and her family, the judge issued the light county jail punishment and justified making an exception with a speech that onlookers said was unusually sympathetic to the defendant.

“Obviously, the prison sentence would have a severe impact on him,” Persky said in court. “The defendant is youthful and has no significant record of prior criminal offenses.”

The judge also implied that because the swimmer was intoxicated at the time of the attack, he should be treated differently than a sober defendant.

“There is less moral culpability attached to the defendant who is … intoxicated,” the judge said.

Persky also noted that news coverage of the case had significantly impacted Turner, saying: “The media attention that has been given to this case has in a way sort of poisoned the lives of the people that have been affected. … The question I’ve asked myself is … ‘Is state prison for this defendant an antidote to that poison?’”

In her 12-page victim impact statement, that has spread on social media, the woman noted that Turner has only admitted to being drunk that night, but has not acknowledged that he assaulted her and has continued to argue that the encounter was consensual.

The judge seemed to show some sympathy to Turner’s perspective. “I take him at his word that subjectively that’s his version of his events. … I’m not convinced that his lack of complete acquiescence to the verdict should count against him,” he said.

Dauber said she was further shocked to see Persky minimize the significance of the guilty verdicts, which came from a jury of eight men and four women. The judge said at sentencing: “A trial is a search for the truth. It’s an imperfect process.”

Persky also appeared to rely heavily on letters that Turner’s friends and family sent and read an excerpt from a former classmate who told the judge she couldn’t believe the assault allegations.

“To me that just rings true,” the judge said. “It sort of corroborates the evidence of his character up until the night of this incident, which has been positive.”

The letter in question, however, includes a lengthy rant that places blame on the woman for being attacked: “I’m sure she and Brock had been flirting at this party and decided to leave together … I don’t think it’s fair to base the fate of the next ten + years of his life on the decision of a girl who doesn’t remember anything but the amount she drank. … Where do we draw the line and stop worrying about being politically correct every second of the day and see that rape on campuses isn’t always because people are rapists.”

Persky repeatedly emphasized the effect the case has had on Turner, at one point saying: “The character letters that have been submitted do show a huge collateral consequence for Mr Turner.”

Turner, who withdrew from Stanford, will likely only spend three months in jail.

Dauber also noted that Persky made no mention of a letter signed by more than 250 Stanford students urging him to sentence Turner to at least the minimum years outlined in state law.

“A light sentence, such as probation or a few months in jail, would send the incorrect message that this was not a serious crime. This would undermine the trust in the legal system at large, diminish reporting, and possibly make the Stanford community a more dangerous place for all,” the letter said.

In her letter to the judge, Dauber wrote that Stanford’s surveys have found that 43% of female undergraduates have experienced sexual assault or misconduct, and that more than two-thirds of them said perpetrators took advantage of intoxicated victims. But only 2.7% of students who experienced assault or nonconsensual sexual contact reported it to the university.

Turner’s sentencing only does further damage, Dauber added, noting that she has observed nonviolent drug offenders receive much harsher treatment by judges.

“Aaron Persky is telling these women don’t bother calling police. Even if you get through a trial and even if you manage to get a conviction, I will not impose a serious sanction,” Dauber said.

Dauber said she would be launching a formal campaign this week to recall the judge from office, and a change.org petition calling for him to be removed has already garnered more than 45,000 signatures.

A spokesman for Santa Clara superior court said the judge was barred from commenting on this case while there is an appeal pending. After sentencing, Turner’s attorneys notified court that they intend to appeal the conviction.

In a follow-up email to the Guardian on Monday, the victim said her case speaks to the experiences of women across the country.

“I remain anonymous, yes to protect my identity. But it is also as a statement, that all of these people are fighting for someone they don’t know. That’s the beauty of it. I don’t need labels, categories, to prove I am worthy of respect, to prove that I should be listened to. I am coming out to you as simply a woman wanting to be heard. Yes there is plenty more I’d like to tell you about me. For now, I am everywoman.”


#2

Holy fuck:

“Where do we draw the line and stop worrying about being politically correct every second of the day and see that rape on campuses isn’t always because people are rapists.

That sentence right there is on par with one of the most willfully idiotic comments that I have ever seen posted on the internet:

"Not everyone who commits rape is a rapist."

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!?!

That’s like saying that “committing one little murder doesn’t make someone a murderer.”

Oh, I am so agged that this judge is running unopposed, but I sure signed that petition.


Stanford rapist Brock Turner: “I've been shattered by the party culture”
#3

What’s worse is that Turner’s lawyers are appealing the conviction, which may be normal for all convictions but it still stings.

Unfortunately, the recall petition that is linked in the Guardian story is an unofficial change.org. Recall petitions must go through Santa Clara County’s clerk’s office and may only be signed by eligible voters (Santa Clara registered voters). Just FYI.


#4

Ugh.

Just.

UGH.


#5

If it makes you feel better, I have a brother and sister-in-law who live in Santa Clara. Although we’re estranged, I know both will sign it.

He’ll be toast because Californians love their recall powers!:wink:


#6

I’ll repeat my earlier gif…


#7

Agreed.

If you get drunk and then kill someone with your car, you are no less “morally culpable” just because you were drunk at the time.


#8

Indeed. I’m not going to say that it’s impossible that someone would do something drunk that they wouldn’t do sober. But if you have the tendency to do stupid/violent/disgusting things when drunk, and you know this, then by getting drunk with that knowledge, you’re just as morally culpable as if you had done those things sober, because you knew they were possible consequences for getting drunk.

Myself, I never get drunk, and one of the reasons is that I have some seriously screwed up urges sometimes. Those urges scare the hell out of me. I’m in control of myself (assuming chocolate isn’t at hand), so I don’t act on those urges — but if I got drunk, I don’t know what would happen. What I do know is that if I act on one of those urges because I was drunk, then it’s my fault for getting drunk enough to lose control.

Now, it’s extremely unlikely that I would do anything horrible if I got drunk. From what I hear, when you get drunk, you’re basically the same person, just with the social veneer stripped off, and on my worst days, I can just be somewhat of an asshole. However, the possibility of disaster is enough to keep me sober.


#9

Again, the mental acrobatics that have been employed to make this horrid situation “not such a big deal” is just astounding.


#10

Yep!! The worst things I’ve done while not entirely sober:

  • Eaten disgusting fast food
  • Gave one awkward backrub
  • Received one awkward backrub
  • Called my mother
  • Made quite a few not funny jokes (not offensive, just not funny. Hell, I make them stone cold all the time as well)

Mind altering substances are zero excuse precisely for the reason mentioned, noone is gonna manage you but you.


#11


#12

I believe the expression you are looking for is…

Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a pillow I need to go scream into.


#13

Alternately:


#14

Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.


#15

Thing is, the prosecutor wasn’t even asking for the maximum, six years, IIRC. I’m not going to get into the minutiae of whether six years is enough or what kind of rape deserves fourteen as opposed to six, but it’s reasonable. It’s not like the guy was facing a substantial portion of his life in prison for a crime that was witnessed by two people.

This is another travesty of justice. I was telling my friend that I would bet her anything that a person who took advantage of this woman by stealing all of her money and cellphone would have faced a harsher sentence than this guy-- and I’d have a lot more respect for a petty thief.

So here’s a personal anecdote. I have been in a situation where I was drunk and the person I was with all alone was getting progressively drunker to a point bordering on stupor. Not only did I not rape that person (and while it’s a little TMI, it’s relevant to point out that I was definitely interested in “relations” with said person), I also kept them from drinking more. In the event that I was too drunk to realize how drunk they were, I can say with all confidence that I still wouldn’t have raped them. I also didn’t take them behind a dumpster and penetrate them with foreign objects. Based on the standard quoted above, I guess I should complain that I have yet to receive my medal in the mail.

In all seriousness, I’ve never understood this attitude. When did drunk people become less human? When did being drunk turn you into a person you weren’t to begin with? I’ve been sufficiently drunk that I said stupid shit and embarrassed myself, but that was stupid embarrassing shit that was always on the tip of my tongue. I seriously want someone to explain this mentality to me. When I was much younger, before I’d ever tried alcohol, I might have believed it because all I knew was hearsay and fearmongering. But once you’ve been drunk a few times, I don’t know how you could believe this.


#16

Yet another one of Spock’s abilities I wish I had…

http://imgur.com/Kd42PGr


#17

Seriously. When the person you’re drinking with passes out, your dilemma should be: How do I get them home without anyone getting killed? When it’s: Where can I drag her unconscious body to rape?, you’re a goddamnfuckingrapingmotherfuckingrapist!


#18

Dear diary, today was a sad and gray day for me. Against all odds, I was unable to crush my enemies – see them driven before me, and to hear the lamentation of their women. It has been difficult.


#19

To be fair, the train of thought is probably more like “where can I situate her to fuck her”… but it’s still rape, no matter how opportunistic predators may think of it in their minds.


#20

I mean, it’s not like there’s even any question that he raped her. He met all the standards, she was out cold, he dragged into a goddamn alley, there were two fucking witnesses. Rape without those features is still rape, but the fact that the rape apologists are still defending him (INCLUDING THE FUCKING JUDGE!!!) boggles the mind. What. Is. Wrong. With. These. Assholes?