A fledgling campaign to recall the judge who sentenced a former Stanford University swimmer to six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman gained momentum on Friday, as three prominent political consultants joined the effort.
The Recall Judge Aaron Persky campaign said media consultant Joe Trippi, campaign strategist John Shallman and pollster Paul Maslin would help secure the signatures and votes required to remove the Santa Clara County jurist from the bench next year.
Trippi has worked for a number of Democratic presidential candidates, while Maslin’s clients include Governor Jerry Brown and members of Congress. Shallman has worked for the president of the California Senate, who spearheaded passage of a law requiring colleges and universities to apply a “yes means yes” standard in sexual misconduct cases.
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Persky was re-elected in an unopposed election Tuesday, five days after sentencing Brock Turner, 20, to six months in jail and three years’ probation.
The punishment for the Dayton, Ohio, native ignited intense outcry as too lenient. Prosecutors had argued for Turner to spend six years in prison for three felony convictions that could have sent him away for 14 years.
The judge said in court last week that he followed a recommendation from the county’s probation department and cited Turner’s clean criminal record and the effect the conviction will have on his life.
“I have daughters in college myself, and I find it deeply disturbing that a judge like Persky could let a campus predator like Turner off with barely a slap on the wrist,” Shallman said. “Justice is supposed to be blind not stupid.”
A request to interview the judge wasn’t returned on Friday. A court spokesman has said Persky is barred from commenting because Turner is appealing his convictions of felony assault and attempted rape.
Meanwhile, a group of California lawmakers joined women’s rights advocates in urging the California agency that investigates complaints of judicial misconduct to take action against Persky.
Eleven Democratic state lawmakers asked the Commission on Judicial Performance to investigate and discipline the judge, alleging he may have engaged in misconduct in sentencing Turner.
The judge’s decision “confirms what women already knew: That rape culture blames us for being vulnerable when crimes are committed against us, but treats the same factors, drinking, in particular, as reasons to be exceedingly lenient with rapists,” Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman of Stockton said.