By Maura Dolan . . . A campaign to recall a judge for a lenient sentence in a high-profile sexual assault case has fractured long-term friendships, divided the liberal Democratic community of Santa Clara County and pitted feminists against feminists.
Voters will decide Tuesday whether to recall Judge Aaron Persky,who two years ago sentenced Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner to six months in jail for assaulting a woman who lost consciousness after heavy drinking.
Turner, who was 19 at the time, was convicted of three felonies: two for digitally penetrating an unconscious or intoxicated person and one for assault with intent to commit rape. He served three months and must register as a sex offender for life.
The sentence sparked a national uproar, coming at a time of heightened awareness of campus sexual assaults and on the eve of the #MeToo movement. Persky, 56, appointed by former Gov. Gray Davis, is the first judge in California to face a recall vote in more than 80 years.
Emotions are so high that vandals have spray-painted over lawn signs opposed to the recall. The pro-recall signs display a photo of Persky next to Turner’s mug shot, and both the judge and the woman leading the campaign to oust him have received threats.
“There are many people, who have been allies on a lot of issues, who are on opposite sides of this particular one,” said Santa Clara County Dist. Atty. Jeff Rosen, who opposes the recall.
Among them are Persky’s wife and Dr. Sophia Yen, one of the recall leaders, who had been friends for more than 10 years, attended parties at each other’s homes and whose children played together. They no longer talk.