Stanford Rape Case Judge Removed From 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," district attorney says

The judge in the Stanford rape case has been removed from an upcoming sexual assault case after prosectuors said they "lack confidence" in judge. Credit: AP

The judge who presided over the case of Brock Turner, the Stanford swimmer convicted of sexual assault whose six-month sentence was roundly criticized for being too lenient, has been removed from an upcoming sexual assault case. Prosecutors in the Santa Clara County District Attorney's office used a procedure known as 170.6 to request Judge Aaron Persky's removal from the bench prior to the new felony case, which involves a male nurse accused of groping a female patient while she was under sedation, NBC News reports.

Persky's light sentencing in the Stanford rape case, however, did not cause prosecutors to invoke 170.6. The judge dismissed a misdemeanor stolen mail case mid-trial, a decision that had prosecutors questioning whether the judge was fit to remain on the bench.

"We are disappointed and puzzled at Judge Persky's unusual decision to unilaterally dismiss a case before the jury could deliberate," Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement. "After this and the recent turn of events, we lack confidence that Judge Persky can fairly participate in this upcoming hearing in which a male nurse sexually assaulted an anesthetized female patient."

Since Persky's sentencing of Turner in the Stanford case – the swimmer was given probation and a requirement to register as a sex offender alongside his prison sentence – nearly 1 million people have signed a petition demanding that Persky step down from his position. Turner faced a possible 14-year prison sentence, but Persky decided his age and lack of criminal record only warranted a six-month sentence. With good behavior, Turner could be released in three months.

Following the furor over the sentence, Stanford law professor Michele Dauber, having felt that the punishment was too soft to fit the crime, launched a campaign to recall Persky.

On Tuesday, it was revealed that one of the jurors on the Turner case was "absolutely shocked and appalled" by the sentence. "After the guilty verdict I expected that this case would serve as a very strong deterrent to on-campus assaults," the juror wrote via Palo Alto Online. "But with the ridiculously lenient sentence that Brock Turner received, I am afraid that it makes a mockery of the whole trial and the ability of the justice system to protect victims of assault and rape."