Opinion: Judge Persky: Why you need to resign | News | Palo Alto Online |


Opinion: Judge Persky: Why you need to resign

'Brock Turner never expressed remorse or took responsibility for his crimes'

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.

Related content:

Storify: Inside the Brock Turner case


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62 people like this
Posted by another mom
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 4, 2017 at 7:48 am

This really moved me. I applaud your courage. Best wishes!

37 people like this
Posted by Stanford Staffer
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 4, 2017 at 11:08 am

Often like sticks with like. There is more leniency for those that are privileged white males. I say this not lightly - as my husband and son fall into that category.

However, the value of women is still lower than a male.

A former Stanford postdoctoral fellow "resigned" from his third faculty position for sexual misconduct, rather than face the recommended firing. What about the women in his wake? Their confidence and careers shaken?

Web Link

28 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Aug 4, 2017 at 11:25 am

I read Judge Persky's defense of his decision as being based on considerations essentially "required" by sentencing rules. To be required to take various factors into account is not the same as being required to make a particular decision. If a first-time murder would fall under the same sentencing guidelines, would that justify the sort of lenient sentence that Judge Persky levied in Turner's case? I doubt it. It can only be Judge Persky's perception that sexual assault is so much less serious than murder, the defendant such an otherwise upstanding young man and so likely to see the error of his ways and be damaged by a more severe sentence that would cause him to make such a ridiculous decision. Turner never expressed remorse; even his father minimized his crime. His future was questionable even before he committed this heinous act, and won't be improved by getting off so easily.

18 people like this
Posted by Stew Pid
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 4, 2017 at 11:26 am

[Post removed.]

31 people like this
Posted by Another Stanford Professor
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 4, 2017 at 11:31 am

Judge Persky owes no one an apology as he apparently deliberated upon the facts prior to rendering his final decision.

As far as resigning from the bench, if he feels justified in maintaining his role as a judge so be it. The 2018 election will be the final word.

Everyone involved in this case was a victim of sorts. (1) Brock Turner was a victim of his stupidity and lack of maturity. (2) Emily Doe was a victim for her lack of common sense and restraint (i.e. partying and getting drunk with a bunch of younger college kids).(3) Judge Persky for getting stuck with this particular case and having to take all of the facts/details into consideration.

[Portion removed.]

Bear in mind that I am not condoning any of these controversial actions. Just saying that all parties played a role in this debacle.

24 people like this
Posted by member
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 4, 2017 at 11:36 am

The justice system isn't perfect. Judges are bound by laws, passed by the legislature and voters. This Judge determine the punishment by examining the law. Part of the problem here, this activity has been going on at Stanford for years. Underage drinking was going on at Stanford when I attended high school in Palo Alto. The University certain should be help responsible for the drinking by underage students. If you don't like the law, you can contact the locally elected representatives and ask them to make changes to the law, so additional punishment can be enforced. None of us today, want a Judge that makes up the punishment to fit the requirements today. I do not support the removal of the Judge nor his resignation.

3 people like this
Posted by M. Driscoll
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 4, 2017 at 11:40 am

[Post removed.]

17 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2017 at 11:47 am

I am interested in how Another Stanford Professor above is making his points. I don't disagree with them.

As he says, "If that woman had stayed home or went drinking with friends" she probably would not have been raped. However, if she had not been there, we have no idea of whether Turner would have raped someone else. If passers by had not witnessed the rape, many questions about what would have happened next would present themselves. If Persky was presiding over Turner having committed a different type of crime, we have no idea of what he would have sentenced. Likewise, if the crime had been committed by someone from a different demographic group, we have no idea of what he would have sentenced.

For these reasons, the law has to be followed without any type of sentiment or empathy for either victim or culprit.

I'm saying this because I think I would feel the same if I was the parent of either the victim or the culprit.

However, in this case, I have serious questions about how the culprit had been parented and to me this is part of why he committed the crime.

45 people like this
Posted by Michelle de Blank
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 4, 2017 at 11:48 am

Thank you for your heart felt letter and sharing your past. I am very dismayed by "another Stanford professor's" statement.

Calling Brock Turner a "victim" in any respects of this case is deeply disturbing. Sexually assualting an unconscious woman is not immature. It is violent and predatory. I am really hoping that you are not a Stanford professor.

35 people like this
Posted by Don't Resign
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2017 at 11:59 am

Judge Persky has no reason to resign and there is no rationale for his recall. The State Commission on Judicial Performance investigated and found no wrong doing in Judge Persky's actions/ decisions in this case. Scapegoating him for frustrations people have with the judicial system and thinking if they somehow take this one judge down they win a big victory for justice is just sad. I fact it would undermine real justice which needs rationality not scapegoating to accomplish.

7 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 4, 2017 at 12:07 pm

[Post removed.]

31 people like this
Posted by Kaz
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 4, 2017 at 12:08 pm

It's clear why Persky has hired a Trump electioneering consultant to try to save his position: Persky doesn't want to lose the extra special layers of privilege and power that come with being a (white, male) judge.

Let's take this opportunity to demonstrate how powerful white men can lose their precious privileges by acting outside our social norms. We do not accept Persky's internal prejudices that lead to lenient treatment of white men. He is unfit to be a judge in our county.

Thank you, Ms. Slone, for your strong statement.

7 people like this
Posted by Standford Grad Student/Female
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 4, 2017 at 12:10 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

33 people like this
Posted by Stanford Alum
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 4, 2017 at 12:26 pm

Barbara, Thank you for your moving and articulate guest editorial. There is no question that Persky has to go. I'm one of many who will be donating money and going door to door for the recall. He stands for the absolute worst in the judicial system and is a disgrace to the profession and the people of Santa Clara County. Stanford Alum

18 people like this
Posted by Michelle
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 4, 2017 at 12:34 pm

Stanford grad student - I am assuming you were not here during the trial. Two sober grad students saw Brock assaulting Emily Doe. He put his finger in her vagina along with dirt and leaves. This was evidence in the trial. There was no claim of trying to revive her and that did not happen. I bet you can google more evidence about this case if you are interested.

23 people like this
Posted by kb
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 4, 2017 at 12:54 pm

Thank you for your courage to speak your mind. Your arguments are very compelling. Unless Judge Persky can demonstrate a very convincing record of applying the law in an unbiased manner over his career, I will vote to recall.

12 people like this
Posted by Robin
a resident of another community
on Aug 4, 2017 at 1:03 pm

Thank you to the original poster. And to the alleged Stanford female grad student who fantasizes heroic CPR by the assailant Turner, I hope you are not taking a valuable position at Stanford from someone [portion removed.]

12 people like this
Posted by bias, manufactured
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 4, 2017 at 1:08 pm

Wow, an honest comment. Unfortunately one case does not indicate bias, nor does it make the argument for re-call under any stretch of the imagination (or definition of why the state has a re-call option).

So while I totally understand the sentiment, re-call is the wrong option.

8 people like this
Posted by Shame on them
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 4, 2017 at 1:22 pm

[Post removed.]

18 people like this
Posted by The Facts
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 4, 2017 at 1:33 pm

@ bias, manufactured: I totally agree.

So do hundreds of other highly respected people listed on the "Voices Against Recall" web site. Web Link

District Attorneys, Law School Deans, Law School Professors, Superior Court Judges, Supreme Court Justices, Attorneys, Community Leaders, etc. all listed. The web site lists facts (not emotional responses), refutes bias claims (based on ethics investigations), and helped me better understand Judge Persky's role as a battered woman's advocate and responsibilities to follow the law as a Judge. I recommend folks consider this information before jumping to conclusions about recall:

“Judicial recalls over a single judicial ruling threaten our independent judiciary and set a dangerous precedent. Recalls should be reserved for judges who have a pattern of bias or misconduct. Judge Persky has neither.”
- Civil rights leader and retired Judge LaDoris Cordell

"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."
- Judge Persky

How can any Judge possibly do their job based on popular opinion? We elect them to uphold the LAW!

29 people like this
Posted by Please Read Before Posting
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2017 at 1:39 pm

@biased, manufactured: Please read the article before opining. Persky has a pattern of light sentencing for White male athletes, so it's not just this one case. This case just represents the last straw, or maybe the most egregious.

@The Facts: The judges and attorneys (hoping to be judges some day?) are merely trying to protect themselves from the same type of recall. It is in their best interests to ensure they will not be held accountable for repeated, biased rulings.

27 people like this
Posted by Mark
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 4, 2017 at 1:47 pm

No matter what jail/prison time he did or did not serve, Brock Turner got a life sentence. You can all relax; his life IS ruined. He has to register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life and his name is known across the country. Every time anyone hears the name Brock Turner they will immediately think "The Stanford Rapist".(Even thought he was not convicted of rape.) [Portion removed.]

4 people like this
Posted by New Lawyer In Palo Alto
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 4, 2017 at 1:54 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

12 people like this
Posted by Pro Rider
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 4, 2017 at 2:34 pm

Pro Rider is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

31 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 4, 2017 at 2:39 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Brock Turner's life is not ruined. He hails from a well connected upper middle class family and I bet that he already has a well paying job. Registering as a sex offender has little meaning when one is so well connected.

As far as this sorry excuse for a judge, he has already demonstrated a pattern of extreme leniency toward white college athletes behaving badly, and eery indifference toward female victims. He has bent over backward to give white male sexual offenders the absolute lightest sentence he could get away with, every single time.

The good old boy/ girl club voicing their opinion against the recall are just circling the wagon, protecting another member of the club, a very old exercise of the very privileged. It is an absolute disgrace that Persky is still a judge.

18 people like this
Posted by Why not recall?
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 4, 2017 at 3:33 pm

@bias - you say, "So while I totally understand the sentiment, re-call is the wrong option."

What is the right option? A recall is simply an election, up or down, on the incumbent, who is an elected official. I don't agree with your claim that the judge has not shown bias, but even if there were just one truly egregious judgment, why would a recall be a poor way to address it? It is a referendum on this judge on this issue.

24 people like this
Posted by George
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 4, 2017 at 5:58 pm

Judges judge. They have the responsibility, and burden, to sift through the often complex and contradictory details of a case - and render a judgement. Too many of these posts want to fight larger battles - 'a culture of rape' , a culture of excess intoxication and out of control campus parties, predatory males, etc. - it's hard for some to remember that a trial is not a forum for social justice. The trial at the center of this is only what happened that night, it's not about any other cause. I can't judge anything about this case because I didn't attend the trial, listen to all of the evidence, interview the parties involved, look at the totality of the circumstances, understand the body of law and precedent behind the guidelines, or have to render judgement in order to serve the best interests of justice all around - judgement. I don't have all of that dorect information, neither do most of you. That was Persky's responsibility and his alone. Not the many on this list who believe themselves wiser or better representatives of the people's interests.
If you were charged in an vehicle accident i would imagine you would hope the judge is going to do the right thing and for you, maybe that's rendering a judgement that considers many aspects.
Sure, elected judges serve at the will of the people. In this particular case, the pursuit and vengence against this judge is haunting. We can't do this to our judges and expect anything but decline in our justice system. His verdict was fair.

28 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 4, 2017 at 7:59 pm

The posters here who are baying for Persky's blood are barking up the wrong tree. In all of the cases cited by Barbara, Persky followed Parole Department and Sentencing guidelines dictated by state law. Do you folks really want a system where judges are swayed by the temporal emotions of the crowd? Or do you want a system where judges are bound by the rule of law? We had a system in the South (and even in San Jose) in the last century where racist mobs carried the day and not the legal system. Is that what you people want?

I agree that the sentencing guidelines for crimes like Turner's are too lenient. But the way to rectify that isn't to shoot the judge: it's to change the law through the system we have in place to do so. You won't like the system you're building if you are successful in the endeavor to recall Persky.

It's bad enough when the Trumpsters howl for vengeance against Muslims and others who are enemies of the moment. To see something so similar here in Palo Alto is really scary.

27 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 4, 2017 at 8:11 pm

I think part of the outrage over this comes from the fact that Brock Turner blatantly lied about whether he consumed drugs and/or alcohol. When his "I'm a clean cut choir boy" statement was proven to be false -- complete with pictures of him and -- I think -- his sister -- consuming substances, Judge Persky chose to ignore the fact that Turner had blatantly lied.

30 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 4, 2017 at 9:56 pm

You can argue all you want about judicial independence and so forth, but Judge Persky is an elected official, and as such, he serves at the pleasure of the people. By law, the people have the right to hold a recall election when they are firm in their belief that a public official is culpable of malfeasance.

9 people like this
Posted by AppalledByPopulistVengeance
a resident of Los Altos
on Aug 5, 2017 at 12:01 am

Firstly, I am truly sorry for the pain that the opinion writer suffered at the hands of truly sick criminals in her past. Hopefully, those individuals were dealt what they deserved by the American criminal justice system; from the limited information provided and bitterness, it would seem they were not. Thank goodness, Brock Turner was apprehended and dealt what he deserved (which is the point apparently some are contesting); but DO NOT equate, or even try to rationalize, that his sentencing is even related to "not being punished".

Most importantly, it is sickening to see and hear about the Witch Hunt of Judge Persky by so-called liberals in the Palo Alto area (and the howling from across America)!

* Brock Turner was tried, convicted, and sentenced for sexual assault ... not rape; so everyone who is "grabbing their pitchfork and torch" to chase after Judge Persky instead should be directing their anger at Jeff Rosen and the SCC District Attorneys Office if they think he should have been tried for rape. The SCC DA didn't press charges for rape because they did NOT feel they could convict Turner ... so all of the bile and venom is misdirected.

* Do NOT be confused by emotional, non-sensicle statements that Turner's "Registration as a Sex Offender" is it will be somehow abated because he is "privileged". He is and will be scarred for life, as he should be, for committing a felony sex offense. He WILL regret his actions for the rest of his life on a daily basis. And it is not fair or reasonable to expect any sentencing to eliminate the life-long pain that his victim WILL feel. It cannot... the only thing that will make her better is to process everything, including any regret she may have for the poor decisions she made, and ultimately find peace through forgiveness (to everyone, including herself).

* As stated by numerous others who have commented, citizens having the right to vote may sign a petition asking for a Recall Election and may vote for Judge Persky to be recalled. But that does NOT make it right. It will be a catastrophic disservice to democracy and justice for a mob mentality to attack judicial independence. I find it particularly disturbing that a professor of law at Stanford is leading the recall effort ... personally, I think she should do the right thing and resign from her position at Stanford while she "hunts for perceived ogres".

* And finally, let's all face it and agree that we shouldn't be trying to win the race-to-the-bottom ... judges should NOT be meting-out overly harsh sentencing to anyone (people of any color, whether black, brown, yellow, white, whatever). A multi-person parole board and judge SHOULD base their recommendations and decisions on the law AND strive to turn-around criminal's behavior. Prison and jail time do NOT achieve the goals we would like to think they deliver; longer, harsher sentencing will NOT deter. If anything, it has the opposite effect. This has been proven!

Lastly, let's all think about how polarizing our fervently held beliefs and brinkmanship statements may be, before we make them. I truly believe that our single-mindedness and inability to listen, empathize, and respect others that facilitated the election of the current abomination for a President of the United States of America. Think about it ...

17 people like this
Posted by Persky = Trump
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 5, 2017 at 8:01 am

I have been reading these comments with interest.

To the writer - kudos. You are one brave lady.

I read in the New York Times that Judge Persky has hired Donald Trump's Arizona State Chair to run Persky's campaign and paid him tens of thousands of dollars. Birds of a feather, and I will not support Trump, or Persky, or any elected official who thinks it is ok to just grab women by the genitals as Brock Turner and Donald Trump did. I am looking forward to signing that petition. How can I do that?

25 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 5, 2017 at 11:28 am

mauricio is a registered user.

The ridiculous branding of the call effort as " mob mentality" are truly anti democracy drivel. What other recourse have the voters, who voted an elected judge into office have, when the judge has shown a clear pattern of bias in favor of white sexual offenders and a stunning lack of concern and sensitivity to the victims. The voters would indeed be a mindless mob if they didn't attempt to remove this awful judge from his bench by the only democratic means available to them. This is democracy in action, and I have some choice words for the victim blamers, the defenders of Persky, and frankly, the Brock Turner apologists, but they would be deleted, so I will keep them to myself.

2 people like this
Posted by Not a resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 5, 2017 at 11:56 am

[Post removed.]

12 people like this
Posted by Longtime Resident
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 5, 2017 at 12:04 pm

"Another Stanford Professor's" comment is well stated. I agree with what he/she wrote. Resignation or removal would create a situation where we cannot stop:

If Judge Perksy is expected to resign, then why not ask District Attorney Jeff Rosen of San Jose to resign too?

Rosen suggested a light sentence for spousal abuse, in the case of CEO Mr. Gattani, and his spousal abuse of Mrs. Gattani, a fact that was known for years and that was reported by other people. That ruling amounts to a slap in the hand. How is it different from Judge Persky's?

Web Link

Regarding Mr. Gattani's light sentence, the only person of note that spoke out strongly against it was Vice President Mike Pence, who pointed out that violence against women ought not to be tolerated by anyone, and that Jeff Rosen ought to have suggested other wise in his light recommendation.

How come other leaders in our area were so quiet? Where was the outrage?
Only the Vice President of the United States had the courage and wisdom to speak out.

Abuse against women, children or any vulnerable person by men ought not to be tolerated in any society. It needs to be strongly denounced, and by everyone.

15 people like this
Posted by DuveneckNeighbor
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 5, 2017 at 12:09 pm

The recall effort is wasted. When we should be using the momentum of publicity in this case, and the resulting law changes (AB2888 and AB701) to move justice forward, instead we have a polarizing witch hunt, seeking to make Judge Persky a scapegoat, not only for our collective and cumulative outrage over the handling of rape and sexual assault in our legal system for many, many decades, but for perceived-by-some unfair privilege based on both gender and race.

The facts: the prosecutor, not the judge, removed two of the indictment counts (both the rape counts). The probation officer (a woman), not the judge, made the recommendation for sentencing. The judge and the probation department followed the previous-expressed will of the people of Santa Clara County, placing an emphasis on rehabilitation over lengthy, punitive sentences. The judge followed all the rules: indeed, unlike many cases, the perpetrator not only did not plead to reduced indictments, but was found guilty of all counts retained by the prosecutor -- meaning, the judge held to the law, the prosecutors did their job, the judge did his, the defense did theirs, and the probation department did theirs. The California Commission for Judicial Performance found no evidence of misconduct.

Why single out Persky? Why not fault the prosecutor, for withdrawing the two counts of rape, and leaving only the counts of sexual assault? Why not fault the probation department? Why not fault the CCJP? Most important, why not fault *ourselves*, for electing politicians who followed our previous will relating to sentencing and rehabilitation? Why not fault ourselves, for all aspects of matters of sexual assault?

This case has already resulted in changes to the law. A scapegoating recall of Persky deflects and diminishes further attempts to make substantive change, to the law, and to college and university campuses.

Instead, we should be voting on initiatives to strengthen all aspects of the indictment, prosecution, and sentencing in cases of rape and sexual assault. We should be creating legislation relative to sexual assault on college campuses. We should be promulgating positive norms in society, regarding sexual behavior. In particular, we should be promulgating a new standard, that *only yes means yes; anything else means no* when it comes to the 'transaction' of sexual relations between consenting adults. We should emphasize over and over again, what consent means, and when consent can, or cannot, be given. We should educate, even more than we do, about informed consent, about state of mind, and about substances which reduce or eliminate an individual's capacity to give consent. We should, above all, infuse a stronger sense of 'I am my brother's, and sister's, keeper' throughout society. We are here to help each other.

16 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 5, 2017 at 12:09 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

If the Vice President is so opposed to violence against women, why doesn't he call for his boss's resignation?

@Not a resident, actually, I still vote in Santa Clara County, and I will be voting enthusaistically for the recall of this horrible judge.

8 people like this
Posted by more of the same
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 5, 2017 at 5:08 pm

"when the judge has shown a clear pattern of bias in favor of white sexual offenders "

This is continually stated. Unfortunately, it was investigated and no bias was found. You'll need more than false statements to get a successful re-call.

13 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 5, 2017 at 5:51 pm

Why fight it, Your Honor? As a judge you are damaged merchandise no matter how the election comes out. But surely you can leverage this episode into a lucrative encore career as a criminal lawyer defending future Brock Turners for humongous fees.

Like this comment
Posted by Aram James
a resident of another community
on Aug 5, 2017 at 7:04 pm

Don't Judge Persky decision, or any sentence, in a vacuum by Aram James

Web Link

5 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 5, 2017 at 7:13 pm

If Brock Turner had been a black defendant, convicted of exactly the same crimes, and Persky had sentenced him to 20 years in prison against the recommendations of the Probation Department, would all of those now howling for Persky's scalp instead be cheering him on because he'd done justice despite what the sentencing guidelines said?

5 people like this
Posted by Herb
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 5, 2017 at 7:41 pm

@Mary, no, because 20 years is way above the normal sentence for a first time offender of sexual assault/rape. State prison for 3-6 years would have been about right, whatever the ethnicity of the convicted felon.

BTW, are you somehow implying that the people who want to recall Persky are anti-white? What does ethnicity have to do with it?

10 people like this
Posted by Herb
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 5, 2017 at 7:47 pm

@DuveneckNeighbor writes:

"Why single out Persky? Why not fault the prosecutor... Why not fault the probation department? Why not fault the CCJP? Most important, why not fault *ourselves*?"

First, we single out Persky because he is the JUDGE, who has the final say on the sentence. Nobody else, just him. He had a choice, he made it; same with the other cases he's messed up. He's a judge with bad judgment. So that's why.

Second, why do you feel the need to divert the blame to anyone but Persky? It's the "system's" fault? One way to get the system to change is to actually hold someone accountable (e.g., they lose their job) which tends to make the other actors take note.

6 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 5, 2017 at 7:55 pm

The Probation Dept recommended exactly the six months Persky gave the defendant. Would it have been better had he sentenced Turner to the 3-6 years that some poster here thinks is "about right"? Or should he have picked 20 years that some others may feel is appropriate?

We used to have jurisdictions where sentences were meted out more in line with the passions of the local populace than with any objective standards. A lot of these jurisdictions were in the South and black defendants often bore the brunt of popular outrage. That's one reason we have sentencing guidelines and Probation Department input.

A lot of the Persky opponents here won't like the results if judges start paying attention to popular will rather than to the law and to objective standards.

18 people like this
Posted by Herb
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 5, 2017 at 9:54 pm

@Mary, Brock Turner was convicted of 3 felonies. The maximum term allowed for these convictions is 14 years in state prison. So no, 20 would be inappropriate. But as the Santa Clara County DA said, the sentenced "did not fit the crime." The prosecutors asked for 6 years, and the sentencing guidelines specified a two-year minimum for each of the 3 felonies. These are objective standards.

The probation department recommended six months in jail, in part because Turner had "surrendered a hard earned swimming scholarship." The judge agreed. They are allowed to make that call (and face the consequences in the judge's case). But years in state prison isn't based on "passions" - it is the norm of these crimes.

5 people like this
Posted by DuveneckNeighbor
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 5, 2017 at 10:00 pm


1) No. The judge is only one element in the process. I can almost guarantee, had the prosecutor NOT removed the rape charges, that the jury would have found the perpetrator guilty. That is NOT the judge's fault. That's on the prosecutor. Had the probation department recommended a longer sentence, Persky would have enforced it. This is NOT about a single individual. It is about the entire system, including US.

2) No. It's a fool's errand to hold one individual accountable, when we are all at fault.

3) We do NOT solve the problems of rape culture, by engaging in scapegoating: by sacrificing one individual for his perceived 'failure', when in fact we are all culpable.

4) Finally, let me make it more clear: I will be working hard to ensure that this divisive, polarizing, completely mis-directed recall effort is defeated. I will give money to Persky's campaign, and probably contribute personal volunteer time. The recall wastes my time, and wastes the time of everyone on the 'other side'. We SHOULD be working directly on improving the law, progressing justice, changing the way college students and society at large approach sexual relations, and improving vastly our understanding of sex and consent, and disseminating our knowledge through education. Professor Dauber's enterprise achieves none of those goals. It doesn't address rape culture at all. Just when we have a chance to create new, sustainable allies... it divides us, when there SHOULD be a clear consensus about how to move forward.

We have that rarest of instances, where the law changed just prior to the attack (re-defining what constitutes sexual assault, and clarifying the nature of consent); a perpetrator is caught in the act by not one but two credible witnesses; indictments are made; trial ensures; the perpetrator is convicted (a rarity in and of itself); the perpetrator is sentenced. The outcry over the virtually-mandated sentence -- recommended by a female probation officer, and made slightly more harsh by Judge Persky -- results in further improvements to the law (AB2888 and AB701) in terms of sentencing. USE THAT MOMENTUM TO MOVE FORWARD. Teach. Clarify. But for goodness' sake, don't condemn falsely.

Instead, for whatever reasons, Professor Dauber has chosen to create a false equivalence between Persky's 'failure' to sentence as she would have, and rape culture. She further accuses Persky, utterly without evidence, of exercising white and male privilege. Professor Dauber's obfuscation of these broader societal issues, with the direct issue at hand, will end up, not propelling us further toward her (and frankly my) goals, but carrying us farther and farther away from them.

16 people like this
Posted by Persky = Trump
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 6, 2017 at 7:53 am


1. This is irrelevant. Turner has three felony convictions by a jury. Rape, assault with intent to commit rape -- makes no difference. He wasn't convicted of rape because there was no evidence he penetrated the victim with his penis which is the definition of rape in CA. He was convicted of attempted rape and of two counts of penetration with his fingers. That's bad enough.

2. Probation makes a recommendation and the judge has the final call. You seem to think judges are rubber stamps and that probation has the final word. That is incorrect. Judges are required by law to consider the probation recommendation not to implement it.

3. We are not "all culpable." Women who are assaulted are not culpable. That is where your bias is showing -- victim blaming is not OK. The person who is culpable here is Brock Turner, and the person who is responsible for his sentence was Aaron Persky and Aaron Persky has a long history of failing to take these crimes seriously. He doesn't take violence against women seriously and doesn't treat it seriously enough. And that is why he is facing recall. Because the voters do not agree with his actions.

4. Absolutely the recall addresses rape culture. And it is educating thousands of people -- not just about rape but also about California's Constitution and how judges are selected, and about the power of the people to be effective and take action against those who enable sexual violence through our democracy.

It strikes me that the opponents of the recall are the ones who are highly emotional about this. My observation is that they accuse Professor Dauber of being a hysterical witch hunter when she seems to be calm and professional. It is the opponents who appear to be enraged to the point of incoherence and somewhat hysterical.

You should donate to Mr. Persky if that is what you feel you want to do. He will take your money and pay it to Brian Seitchik, Donald Trump's Arizona State Director, the man running Persky's campaign. Seitchik has a long history of anti-immigrant, anti choice and anti woman campaigns and Persky fits right into his wheelhouse. I am sure your funds will be well spent. Please, send away.

Recall Persky. Enough is Enough.

3 people like this
Posted by Persky = Trump
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 6, 2017 at 7:57 am

That was directed at DuveneckNeighbor not Mary, my mistake. However they are probably the same person.

14 people like this
Posted by Herb
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 6, 2017 at 8:55 am

@DuveneckNeighbor - well, you can blame the prosecutor (and everyone else) if you like. The prosecutor recommended a six year sentence. Judge Persky didn't wring his hands and say he wished he could give a longer sentence, but couldn't find a way to do it. He made the final decision, 6 months in jail (Turner had to surrender his hard-earned swimming scholarship!) - he is the elected official in charge - the buck stops at his desk. He is a judge with bad judgment - time to go.

You say that the sentence was "virtually mandated" - please explain. It was either mandated or it wasn't; the prosecutor asked for six years in prison.

Your idea of "we are all at fault" is bizarre to me. Is anyone at accountable for anything then? Are we all "products of society" or "the system" and not responsible for our own actions? If we don't hold people accountable in egregious cases, the message is that no one is accountable. That's the road to ruin in my view.

On your working against the recall - go for it. That's what an election is about. Personally I expect Persky to go down in flames. Your message of "we are ALL at fault, not Judge Persky" probably won't do much to help him.

8 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 6, 2017 at 10:14 am

This was a moving perspective from a testimonial that far too many of us have experienced. However, I am wondering what the average conviction in California (for someone with no previous crimes) who is convicted of these three felonies over the last few years (since the state has attempted to reduce sentences).

According to CNN, Turner's light sentence is not uncommon. In fact, NCAA Division I athletes tend to be granted more leniency than the general population. CNN researchers found 52 cases of NCAA Division I athletes investigated by police for allegations of sexual violence over the past 20 years. 33 of those allegations led to criminal charges (nine ended with acquittals or dropped charges). Only thirteen of them resulted in prison or jail time -- ranging from three months to 20 years.

Web Link

Does anyone know what the average sentence has been over the last few years or historically? This case is different in that it received widespread attention because it happened at Stanford University -- one of the world's elite colleges. Yet, it happens all-too-often elsewhere in the world of academia. There are always mitigating factors for every allegation, crime and conviction. It would be interesting to learn of a blind comparison -- comparing similar sentences for similar crimes with those from the Turner's convictions/sentence.

Such a comparison would be important for determining how "unprecedented" the judge's sentence would have been in this case. It would be important to see precedent that compares with sentences after the passage of the Criminal Justice Realignment Act of 2011.

Web Link

If the judge's sentence is within reach of similar sentences over the last five or six years, then the outcry may be more about something other than blind justice.

7 people like this
Posted by Mom
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 6, 2017 at 11:12 am

I would like to bring up the author's subtitle:

Mother: Brock Turner never expressed remorse or took responsibility for his crimes

I searched online about Carleen Turner, mother of Stanford rapist and wife of just "20 minutes of action." After her infamous open letter to judge, I don't find her. Has she divorced her husband or still been supporting him and her son , bearing people's stare as wife of "20 minutes of action"?

At least she didn't flee the country with her son like the mother of the Texas 'affluenza' teenager.

The author didn't develop this point so much for a reason. So I would like to mention that we, all women, well at least me, are watching what she can do from this point.

7 people like this
Posted by Debbie
a resident of Gunn High School
on Aug 6, 2017 at 2:32 pm

I really respect what you said and wrote. I am also sorry for what you went through. There are too many people who have been victimized.

In addition to women in my life who have been victims, I also know of at least two males who were victimized by music teachers or tutors. Parents beware. I recommend "Kidpower" as a source of training and information to reduce the chance of this situation. Do not think that just because you have a son he is immune from this terrible crime.

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