June 6, 2016 / 10:46 PM / 3 years ago

Petition seeking removal of Stanford rape case judge draws wide support

(Reuters) - A petition calling to remove from the bench the judge whose sentencing in a high-profile Stanford University rape case has sparked outrage had attracted close to 100,000 signatures by Monday.

Former Stanford student Brock Turner who was sentenced to six months in county jail for the sexual assault of an unconscious and intoxicated woman in January 2015 is shown in this Santa Clara County Sheriff's booking photo released on June 7, 2016. Courtesy Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky last week sentenced former Stanford student Brock Turner to six months in county jail for the sexual assault of an unconscious and intoxicated woman in January 2015.

Opponents have accused Persky of being too lenient on Turner. Persky also attended Stanford, according to a biography of provided by the League of Women Voters.

A petition calling for his removal from office posted on the Change.org website on Saturday attracted over 95,000 signatures by Monday evening.

Maria Ruiz, a Miami nurse who authored the petition, said she was “outraged” when she heard about Turner’s sentence.

“Honestly, I was terribly upset,” Ruiz told Reuters. “As soon as I heard about it I jumped on the computer and I was like, ‘I have to do something.’”

The Change.org post encourages people to file complaints with California’s Commission on Judicial Performance. The agency declined to comment, citing the confidentiality of complaints.

Ruiz listed 45 different recipients in the petition, including U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. Neither senator immediately responded to a request for comment.

Numerous attempts to contact Persky went unanswered.

Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said on Monday he did not believe Persky should be recalled from office. “While I strongly disagree with the sentence that Judge Persky issued in the Brock Turner case, I do not believe he should be removed from his judgeship,” Rosen said in a statement.

A day after the sentencing, BuzzFeed published a letter that the unidentified victim had read during Turner’s sentencing.

“You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today,” she writes. “My independence, natural joy, gentleness, and steady lifestyle I had been enjoying became distorted beyond recognition.”

The letter has been viewed over 5.7 million times, according to BuzzFeed, and generated an outpouring of sympathy on social media.

In contrast, a letter reported by several media outlets over the weekend that Turner’s father, Dan Turner, purportedly filed to the court prior to sentencing drew jeers online. While the lengthy letter by Dan Turner talked about his son’s “true remorse,” critics seized on other parts of his remarks.

“Brock always enjoyed certain types of food and is a very good cook himself,” Dan Turner wrote. “Now he barely consumes any food.”

Some social media users mocked the letter’s tone.

“Brock Turner’s dad says his son shouldn’t go to jail for ‘20 min of action,’” Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffee), a contributing writer at Politico Magazine and a columnist at Foreign Policy, wrote on Twitter (TWTR.N). “And the poor boy’s appetite is gone.”

Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Leslie Adler

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