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Voters recall judge who sentenced Stanford athlete to only six months for rape

Voters in California recalled a judge who gave a lenient sentence in a 2016 high-profile sexual assault case. (Image source: KPIX-TV screenshot)

Californians have voted to recall the judge who was accused of being too lenient in his sentence of a Stanford student convicted of sexual assault.

Here's what you need to know

In 2016, Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky decided to be lenient with former Stanford University swimmer and convicted rapist Brock Turner. On Wednesday, voters in Santa Clara County decided not to be lenient toward Persky.

Turner had sexually assaulted a woman after a fraternity party in 2015. Two graduates happened to see the assault taking place, and intervened, tackling Turner. He was convicted of assault in 2016 with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person, and penetration of an unconscious person.

Persky decided that a long prison sentence while Turner was young would end up having a “severe” impact on the student.

If not for Persky's decision to go easy on him, Turner could have spent up to 14 years in prison. Instead, he was sentenced to six months, and got out after three months on good behavior. Turner is also required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Shortly after the case ended, Stanford University Law professor Michele Dauber started working on an effort to recall Persky. Persky told The Associated Press that he has no regrets about how he handled this case.

In an interview with CNN a week before the vote, Persky said that he thought that judges “should accept responsibility for rulings. But when it gets to the step of a recall — actually recalling a judge primarily based on one decision — that, for me, is a step too far.”

What did voters say?

On Tuesday, voters went to the polls to vote on whether or not to recall Persky. When the results were reported Wednesday morning, 59 percent had voted to recall him, and only 40 percent thought he should keep his job.

Persky had fought to block the recall election, but an appellate court ruled that it could take place.

The last time California voters recalled a sitting judge was 1932.

What else?

Californians will decide whether Persky will be replaced by personal injury attorney Angela F. Storey or Santa Clara County Assistant District Attorney Cindy Seeley Hendrickson. Right now Hendrickson looks favored to win. Persky’s six-year term ends in 2022.

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