Dear Judge Persky:
As a survivor of a brutal sexual assault, I am writing to suggest that it is not too late, nor will it ever be too late, for you to do the right thing: resign.
It is not easy for me to go public with my experiences of molestation and sexual assault. In elementary school, an escaped mental patient sexually molested me in the vine-enshrouded kindergarten yard of Green Gables School (now Duveneck) in Palo Alto. As a teenager, my music teacher sexually molested me, and some years later, I fought off an attempted rape by a man twice my size.
The profound effects of these events remain with me to this day, yet I have remained virtually silent about my experiences. For too long, victims have been made to feel shame for the shameful acts of the perpetrators. The recent arrest in Palo Alto of a guitar teacher suspected of sexual abuse told me that I could no longer remain silent about events of abuse in my own life.
I always knew that sexual assaults were prevalent, but I never imagined how prevalent: When I started discussing this subject with other women, I was shocked by how many of them had their own stories of sexual abuse and assault. I hope my actions help another woman do what she needs to do and come forward as well.
Please consider that I, and other millions of survivors of sexual assault, never get a break from the haunting and hurtful memories surrounding these tragic and life-changing events. As the judge in the Brock Turner sexual assault case, you had the ability to consider and reject the Probation Department's suggestions for leniency, and arrive at a punishment that reflects the extreme gravity of Turner's actions. You chose not to.
For those readers of this open letter who are unfamiliar with the details of the Brock Turner case, here is a bit of background. Turner was a member of Stanford's swim team, and on Jan. 18, 2015, sexually assaulted an unconscious young woman behind a dumpster near a campus fraternity party. A jury convicted Turner of three felonies: assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated or unconscious person, sexual penetration of an intoxicated person, and sexual penetration of an unconscious person.
Turner never expressed remorse or took responsibility for his crimes, and he lied to the court about his substance abuse history. The minimum term was supposed to be two years in state prison, and the prosecution demanded a six-year sentence. During the sentencing phase, the victim (referred to as "Emily Doe") read her 12-page statement setting forth in great detail the horrific effect of Turner's crimes.
Emily's statement seemed to have had no impact on you, and you proceeded to sentence Turner to probation and a few months in county jail; he was out in three months. You must have thought that a promising young athlete like Turner deserved a second chance, even though he denied Emily a second chance for a normal life. You, alone, made this decision, which says to all women, mothers, fathers, grandmas, grandpas, brothers, and sisters of Emily Does throughout the world that sexual assault survivors don't matter. I hope that at some time in your life you will sit down and listen to the personal stories of women who have endured the brutalities of sexual assault.
The Turner case is not an isolated incident but rather shows your pattern of bias in favor of college athletes, or other white or upper-class defendants who were accused of sexual and domestic violence.
You allowed the introduction of highly prejudicial evidence in the civil case brought against a group of De Anza College baseball players accused of gang-raping an unconscious teenager. You bent over backwards to make sure that serious domestic violence convictions didn't interfere with the college football careers of Ikaika Gunderson or Keenan Smith, both of whom chose to disregard the pathetically lenient terms of their probation. You sentenced Cisco Systems engineer Tony Chiang to a few weekends in jail for brutally beating his fiancee. On the other hand, you sentenced Raul Ramirez, an immigrant who apologized and expressed extreme remorse for sexually assaulting his female roommate, to three years in prison.
You have shown over and over that you do not understand how harmful this kind of violence against women is. You do not get it.
Have you considered that your resignation could redeem you somewhat, and provide at least partial amends to all of the women who have been damaged by your sentencing decisions, not to mention all the future victims following in Emily's footsteps? Men will continue to sexually assault women into eternity, but if more judges meted out just punishment for these crimes, fewer women would fall victim to sexual predators like Brock Turner. If Emily Doe had been your daughter, would you have been OK with a judge sentencing Turner to only six months in jail (reduced by three months)?
You now stand at a crossroads and this is the perfect time for you to leave the bench. You can apologize to Emily Doe and all those who support her by working for change around rape culture. The alternative for you is your very likely recall, which will net you a life of living in shame. The choice is yours, but being the optimist that I am, I am confident that you will see the virtue in doing the right thing.
Judge Persky, please resign now.
In the event that you decide to continue to fight the recall action, I will be donating additional funds to recallaaronpersky.com. I will also be encouraging all those who feel you are unfit for office to send money and to vote to have you recalled.
Enough is enough.
Barbara Slone is a lifelong Palo Alto resident, an artist, a peace activist and an advocate for children. She and her two sons are Palo Alto High School graduates.