Judge who issued Stanford rape sentence removed from unrelated sex assault case

© Chip East
The California judge who faced criticism for giving what many called a too-lenient sentence to a Stanford University student convicted of sexual assault has been removed from an unrelated but similar case.

Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky found himself amid a national controversy at the beginning of June, when he sentenced 20-year-old Stanford student Brock Turner to only six months in prison for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster.

On Tuesday, Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen filed a peremptory challenge against Persky, blocking him from deciding whether a former Kaiser Permanente surgical nurse should go to trial for the alleged sexual assault of a sedated patient.

“We lack confidence that Judge Persky can fairly participate in this upcoming hearing in which a male nurse sexually assaulted an anesthetized female patient," Rosen said in a statement, adding it was a “rare and carefully considered” move and that the case from which Persky was removed involves a “particularly vulnerable victim.”

California court rules grant prosecutors the power to file a motion to remove one judge from a case and have it reassigned to another.

The motion is only the latest in pushback against Persky since he issued Turner’s sentence, which has included a move to have him recalled from the bench, protests, petitions with millions of signatures, and even death threats.

While prosecutors sought six years in prison for Turner, Persky deemed only six months in county jail and three years’ probation to be appropriate, given the defendant’s young age and lack of criminal convictions, he said. Turner must also register as a sex offender.