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Petition to Remove Judge at the Center of Stanford Rape Case Garners a Million Signatures

Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky. Photo by Jason Doiy/AP

Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky. Photo by Jason Doiy/AP

Nearly one million people have signed an online petition calling for the impeachment of a California judge who handed down a lenient sentence in the case of a college athlete convicted of rape.

Judge Aaron Perksy sparked outrage across the country when he sentenced Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner to a mere six months in the county prison for the rape of an unconscious woman after a frat party in January. According to ABC News, a jury found Turner guilty on three felony counts of assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated or unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person.

In addition to his soft sentence, the former Stanford swimmer is only expected to serve three months behind bars. According to Voice of America, California convicts with a clean disciplinary record in the county jail are usually released after half of their sentence has been served.

Public outcry over Persky’s “sympathetic” ruling has manifested into a number of petitions pushing for his impeachment. One petition, created by Miami nurse Maria Ruiz, has gotten 116,127 signatures since its posting on Wednesday.

“We the people would like to petition that Judge Aaron Persky be removed from his Judicial position for the lenient sentence in the Brock Turner rape case,” Ruiz’s petition reads. “Despite a unanimous guilty verdict, three felony convictions, the objections of 250 Stanford students, and the defendant being likened to ” a predator searching for prey”; Judge Persky allowed the lenient sentence suggested by the probation department.”

Two separate petitions, posted on Change.Org and MoveOn.org, have each garnered over 100,000 signatures, CNN.com reports.

“Judge Aaron Persky’s failure to hold Brock Turner accountable for the rape and his dismissive comments at sentencing show that he cannot be trusted to dispense justice,” the MoveOn.org petition states. “He must be removed from the bench immediately.”

The petitions garnered even more support after the 23-year-old rape victim read aloud her scathing letter addressed to Turner, recounting the horrific night of her sexual assault. Vice President Joe Biden even penned an open letter to the young woman, commending her on her bravery to speak out and tell her story.

“…I am filled with furious anger — both that this happened to you and that our culture is still so broken that you were ever put in the position of defending your own worth,” the vice president wrote. “It must have been wrenching — to relive what he did to you all over again. But you did it anyway, in the hope that your strength might prevent this crime from happening to someone else. Your bravery is breathtaking.”

So what happens now that the removal of Judge Persky has gained so much support? It’s hard to say.

CNN.com argues that “creating awareness via petitions and other online tools is one thing. Creating meaningful action — in which supporters lend their own time, resources, freedom or safety — is wholly another.” But a spokeswoman for Change.org says the petition website has led to a number of “victories” for social justice campaigns, about one every hour.

“The result is that petition signatures, social media, traditional media coverage, and offline actions serve as a reflection of popular interest and support and let the decision maker know that the issue is gaining momentum and cannot be ignored,” spokeswoman Eva Arevuo told CNN.com.

Persky has remained tight-lipped about the push for his impeachment and is prohibited from commenting on the Turner case, ABC News reports.

The former Stanford swimmer is looking to appeal his conviction.

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