“I mean, I take him at his word that, subjectively, that’s his version of events.”
Those were the words of Judge Aaron Persky, the magistrate who presided over the Stanford University sexual assault case, according to court documents.
Brock Turner, 20, a Stanford swimmer, was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster at a fraternity party in January 2015.
The documents provide more context about the six-month sentence Persky handed down to Turner—one that many said was inappropriately light given the gravity of the crime. Turner was also sentenced to thee years probation and has to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, but prosecutors sought six years in prison.
“Mr. Turner, in his state of intoxication, sees the events in a certain way,” Perky says, according to a transcript of his sentencing hearing. He adds, “I mean, I take him at his word that, subjectively, that’s his version of events. The jury, obviously, found it not to be the sequence of events.”
“I think you have to take the whole picture in terms of what impact imprisonment has on a specific individual’s life,” he continues. “And the impact statements have been – or the, really, character letters that have been submitted do show a huge collateral consequence for Mr. Turner based on the conviction.”
Reports have said that Turner could be released from jail in September with good behavior.
The judge faced intense public scorn over the decision, with a Change.org petition seeking his removal garnering nearly 250,000 signatures. The backlash intensified after a letter from Turner’s victim describing her experience in a lengthy account went viral. “He has done irreversible damage to me and my family during the trial and we have sat silently, listening to him shape the evening,” she wrote.
Her letter was read aloud in Congress this week.
Persky believed Turner’s remorse was legitimate.
“So you have Mr. Turner expressing remorse, which I think, subjectively, is genuine, and [the victim] not seeing that as a genuine expression of remorse because he never says, ‘I did this. I knew how drunk you were. I knew how out of it you were, and I did it anyway.’ And that – I don’t think that bridge will, probably, ever be crossed,” Persky said, according to the transcript.
Prosecutor Alaleh Kianerci refuted Persky’s claims in court, noting that witnesses saw Turner on top of the 23-year-old victim, adding that Turner said he thought the victim was coherent “because that’s the story that he tells himself and his family and that gets him through his day.”
Persky, meanwhile, is leaving early on a planned vacation—three days ahead of schedule, ABC13 reported.
Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said he supports Persky but then removed him from an upcoming sexual assault trial. “We lack confidence that judge Persky can fairly participate in this upcoming hearing in which a male nurse sexually assaulted an anesthetized female patient,” he said.