At least 10 prospective jurors have refused to serve under Judge Aaron Persky over disagreements with the sentence he issued to convicted rapist Brock Turner, the East Bay Times reports.
Turner, a champion swimmer at Stanford, faced up to 14 years in prison for the rape of an anonymous 23-year-old woman who was unconscious and intoxicated at the time. Judge Persky, however, said he felt Turner's age and lack of a criminal record only warranted a six-month sentence, probation and requirement to register as a sex offender. Turner may be eligible for release in three months.
Several jurors reportedly expressed their disgust with Persky during courtroom sessions this week, with one telling him, "I can't be here, I'm so upset." Another said, "I can't believe what you did," referring to the sentence. In both instances, Persky replied, "I understand" and dismissed the prospective jurors.
Though some of Persky's supporters understood the reasons expressed by the dismissed jurors, they feared some might be using the Turner case as an excuse to get out of jury duty. They also noted that continued refusals could prolong jury selection in multiple cases.
Persky's decision in the Turner case has garnered widespread outrage, with Stanford professor Michele Dauber starting a campaign to recall the judge. Amidst the furor, however, the public has also expressed its support for the anonymous victim, whose powerful court statement has gone viral. Vice President Joe Biden addressed the case in an open letter on Thursday, acknowledging that the "nation is not satisfied" with the sentence.
Watch Stanford professor Michele Dauber discuss campaign to recall Judge Persky.
"You were failed by a culture on our college campuses where one in five women is sexually assaulted – year after year after year," Biden wrote in the letter, available in full via Buzzfeed. "A culture that promotes passivity. That encourages young men and women on campuses to simply turn a blind eye. The statistics on college sexual assault haven't gone down in the past two decades. It's obscene, and it's a failure that lies at all our feet."
Vice President Joe Biden has written a powerful letter to the 23-year-old woman who was sexually assaulted by Stanford student Brock Turner. Watch here.