Editorial: Persky’s ruling a setback to equality

What was he thinking?

It’s hard to accept Judge Aaron Persky’s sentencing of Stanford athlete Brock Turner at face value.

On June 2, Turner was convicted of three counts of felony sexual assault on an unconscious 23-year-old woman behind a dumpster.

Not charged; convicted. Not one charge; three.

Most following the case expected swift, harsh punishment, particularly considering the person in charge of sentencing. Persky touts himself as a defender of battered women, has served on the executive board of the Support Network for Battered Women, and has spent much of his legal career prosecuting criminals involved in sex crimes.

Instead, the sentence announced – and Persky’s reasoning behind it – left most jaws agape, and critics (momentarily) speechless.

“A prison sentence would have a severe impact on (Turner). I think he will not be a danger to others,” Persky said when handing down a six-month sentence.

Persky’s ruling, as well as Brock Turner’s father’s statement to the court (“… a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action…” and that his son “… has never been violent to anyone, including his actions on the night of Jan. 17, 2015…), both reek of class privilege and gender inequality.

In Persky’s biography he supplied to media when he was running for Santa Clara County Superior Court, he claims to “focus on the prosecution of sexually violent predators, working to keep the most dangerous sex offenders in custody in mental hospitals.”

Apparently, Dan Turner and Judge Persky are of the same opinion that sexually assaulting an unconscious woman does not constitute sexually violent behaviour.

When considering this case, on the heels of the ruling in Canadian court, clearing former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi of sexual assault, is it any wonder that (according to statscan.ca) less than four per cent of sexual assaults are ever reported to police?

We fool ourselves into believing that times have changed, and equality is here; “justice for all” and all that malarkey.

Then someone like Judge Persky sets society back a couple of decades, if not more.

His “slap on the hand” sentencing was a slap in the face of all abused women.

What was he thinking? Only he knows.

–Terry Farrell

 

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