The judge who sparked controversy by sentencing a former Stanford University athlete to six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman on campus has been re-elected for a new six-year term.
Judge Aaron Persky has faced scrutiny from the public for his decision to sentence ex-Stanford swimmer Brock Turner to six months in prison and three years of probation on June 2. Turner was convicted of sexually assaulting an intoxicated and unconscious woman behind a dumpster outside of a party on campus.
Persky's sentence was criticized for being too lenient, and some critics pointed out that the judge's past as a former Stanford athlete may have made him biased towards Turner.
The case received national attention when a letter from the 23-year-old victim went viral online, in which she recounted the effect that the assault had on her and urged Persky to use his sentence to send a message that rape is not acceptable.
An online petition on Change.org calling for Persky's recall has received more than 900,000 signatures as of June 9.
"Judge Persky failed to see that the fact that Brock Turner is a white male star athlete at a prestigious university does not entitle him to leniency," reads the petition, which seeks to gain 1 million signatures.
Persky, who would have been up for re-election on June 7, was re-relected by default because he ran unopposed, USA Today reports.
Stanford Law Professor Michelle Dauber said she was confident Persky will be recalled.
"His victory will be short-lived," Dauber told USA Today, adding that the judge's ruling "hit every woman in the state of California in the gut."
"His ruling was dangerous and wrongheaded," she added. "We need to replace him with someone who understands violence against women."
While the Change.org petition gained the support of hundreds of thousands online, it will not have an impact on whether Persky is actually recalled, said Association of Prosecuting Attorneys president David LaBahn, according to CNN. LaBahn added that only registered voters in Santa Clara can vote to recall Persky.
"I want the judge to know that he ignited a tiny fire," Turner's victim told BuzzFeed, speaking about Persky's decision. "If anything, this is a reason for all of us to speak louder."