The Brock Turner fallout seems to show no signs of slowing. The disgraced Stanford swimmer received a six-month jail sentence for raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster, which seems light to say the very least. With that in mind, people are still wondering why Judge Aaron Persky delivered this lenient sentence for an act that one of the witnesses, Carl-Fredrik Arndt, described as “horrible.” Arndt added that he and a fellow cyclist acted on instinct to restrain Turner until police arrived. The court heard that the victim sleeps with a picture of two bicycles taped to her ceiling, so she can remember that “there are heroes in this story.” Yet Turner received easy treatment from a judge who happens to be a Stanford alumnus, but that shouldn’t have swayed his ruling.
Perhaps Turner’s letter — which argued that Stanford’s party culture made him do it — convinced the judge. There were also letters from Turner’s father (who called the rape “20 minutes of action”) and a childhood friend, but words cannot erase this crime, and they don’t work justice for a rape survivor who will be forever changed. So, people are passing around a petition for Persky’s removal. Those folks won’t be pleased to hear that he just received a new six-year term on the bench. The extension doesn’t appear to be based upon merit. There simply were no other candidates to oppose him.
As it turns out, this isn’t Persky’s first unfortunate action in a rape case. He made a similar ruling about evidence in a case involving a victim with PTSD, who alleged that she was gang raped. According to the Mercury News, Persky was cool with admitting these photos:
Judge Aaron Persky ruled before lunch that [Defendant Christopher] Knopf can show the jury seven photos of the woman, whom the court is calling Jane Doe, partying about a year or so after the alleged gang rape. In the photos, she is scantily clad, wearing a garter belt and what appear to be fishnet stockings.
In one picture, a boy appears to be straddling her as she lies on a bed in what looks like a dorm room. Everyone in the photos is smiling and playing around, enjoying themselves. Knopf’s lawyer says the photos are a “direct contradiction” of plaintiff’s claim that she is socially isolated and socially reticent.
The rules of evidence are full of twists and turns, but it’s hard to imagine why a judge would deem the pictures relevant to the case because PTSD can take many forms. The psychology of rape victims is a complicated matter, and the admission of these photos edges right up against good ol’ victim blaming. That’s a subject for another day, but the ruling — along with Turner’s light sentence — does show a pattern on Persky’s part.
Some slight social justice can be seen elsewhere. Leslie Rasmussen, the childhood friend of Turner who blamed political correctness for his conviction, has now retracted her support. BuzzFeed has a screenshot of her now-deleted social media retraction, which she penned only after her band, Good English, lost plenty of gigs. And make no mistake, these cancellations were made as a refusal to support rape culture.