The California judge who was heavily criticized for reducing the punishment in the rape case involving Stanford swimmer Brock Turner has come under fire once again for being overly lenient in a domestic violence case .
A Stanford Law professor, Michele Dauber, is accusing Judge Aaron Perksy of deference in a new case of sexual violence involving a student athlete.
Persky created an international outcry this summer for his handling of the Turner case—the former swimmer was found guilty of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman but only served three months in prison. There were multiple death threats and petitions to oust him after he reduced Turner’s sentence from 14 years to six months. Persky said anything longer would have had a “severe impact” on Turner and his budding athletic career.
Dauber is pursuing an effort to recall Persky—she led the high-profile campaign to unseat him following the Turner trial—for what she now claims is a pattern of leniency towards college athletes to the detriment of young women victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.
The new case denounced by Dauber involves 20-year-old Keenan Smith, a sophomore football player at the College of San Mateo, who is accused of battering his girlfriend.
Smith entered a plea deal for domestic abuse allegations in 2015, which allowed him to continue playing football after serving only half of his sentence. Persky, who presided over the plea bargain, reduced Smith’s charges to misdemeanors, sentencing him to 60 days in jail provided he attend domestic violence prevention classes for a year and perform 28 days of community service during weekends.
But after serving only half of his sentence, the young athlete has failed to comply with the terms of the plea deal.
Court documents indicate that Persky accommodated Smith’s training schedule, allowing him to play football on Saturdays, instead of completing his weekend work, and to be late to court.
“This sent the message that football was more important than violence against women,’’ Dauber said. “Not surprisingly, Mr. Smith failed to take even this lenient sentence seriously, and repeatedly failed to do what little Judge Persky asked of him.’’
Persky, Dauber argues, also failed to hold his client accountable when it became apparent that we was not serving the terms of his sentence.
In an unusual move, the District Attorney’s Office, alerted by Dauber, is now summoning Smith back to court for a probation violation inquiry. It’s possible that Smith could wind up going back to jail.
Smith’s public defender, Barbara Muller, disputes Dauber’s version of the facts, saying her client’s case is being “politicized.” She says it’s highly unusual for prosecutors to call for these hearings, as happened in the Smith case—it’s usually probation officers, she argues.
Smith will appear in court on Tuesday, but will not be seen by Persky, who has since moved to a different courthouse.