A California judge who handed down a lenient sentence in a high-profile Stanford University sexual assault case has been removed from a similar case.
The Santa Clara District Attorney's Office recently requested that Judge Aaron Persky be removed from an upcoming court case in which a male nurse is accused of sexually assaulting an anesthetized female patient, NBC reports. The office reportedly filed a motion to disqualify Persky from presiding over the trial, which an administrative judge granted.
The motion to bar Persky from the new sexual assault case was filed after he made a controversial ruling on June 13 to dismiss a misdemeanor mail theft case before jury deliberations could begin. Persky said prosecutors had not adequately proven their case at the end of the two-day trial and ordered that the case be thrown out of court.
On June 14, prosecutors released this statement explaining their decision to remove the judge from the new case, according to NBC:
We are disappointed and puzzled at Judge Persky’s unusual decision to unilaterally dismiss a case before the jury could deliberate. After this and the recent turn of events, we lack confidence that Judge Persky can fairly participate in this upcoming hearing in which a male nurse sexually assaulted an anesthetized female patient. This is a rare and carefully considered step for our Office. In the future, we will evaluate each case on its own merits and decide if we should use our legal right to ask for another judge in order to protect public safety and pursue justice.
Persky drew national outrage when he sentenced former Stanford University athlete Brock Turner to only six months in county jail and three years of probation on June 2 for sexually assaulting an unconscious 23-year-old woman after a fraternity party in January 2015.
Turner was convicted of three felony counts of sexual assault on March 30 and faced up to 10 years in state prison, according to the Stanford Daily. The former Stanford student also has to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and attend a sex offender rehabilitation program as part of his sentence. He is currently appealing his conviction.
After a letter that Turner's victim read in court went viral, more than a million people nationwide signed a petition asking the California Commission on Judicial Performance to permanently remove Persky from the bench. Nevertheless, the judge was elected to a new six-year term on June 7 since he ran for the position unopposed.
The mail theft case that Persky dismissed was reportedly the first trial he presided over since Turner's sentencing, NBC notes.