The same judge who was criticised for sentencing university athlete and convicted sex offender Brock Turner to just six months behind bars has again come under fire for the “lenient” sentencing of a man who was in possession of images of child abuse.
Judge Aaron Persky sentenced 48-year-old Robert James Chain from California to four days in jail in 2015 after he pleaded guilty to owning the indecent material.
Police records show they discovered more than 100 disturbing photos and videos of minors, including one that showed the sexual assault of an infant.
The felony charge carried a maximum sentence of three years in prison. Chain pleaded guilty in March 2015 and spent one night in jail. Although he was sentenced to four days in jail, he had already earned credit from spending one night behind bars and therefore did not have to carry out the rest of his sentence. He is now a registered sex offender.
Judge Persky’s critics say that the case of Chain echoes that of Brock Turner, who was sentenced to six months in prison after he was convicted of sexually assaulting an intoxicated and unconscious woman after a college party. He faced two counts of alleged rape which were dropped at a preliminary hearing in October 2015. He was instead charged with three counts of sexual assault.
Turner, a Stanford swimmer, was discovered in the middle of his assault against the unnamed victim on the university’s Paolo Alto campus by two Swedish students who tackled him to the ground as he tried to run away.
The sentencing of Turner fell short of the minimum two years in state prison for such a crime as mandated by law. The case prompted international outrage and an effort to remove the judge from office, led by Stanford law professor Michele Dauber.
“This sentence [of Chain] is incredibly lenient by the standards of the judge's own fellow jurists in Santa Clara County,” said Ms Dauber.
“It provides further evidence for what we have been asserting since the sentencing of Brock Turner: Judge Persky exhibits a pattern of bias in sex crimes, and does not appear to understand the grave harm of these crimes.”
Chain lives near Stanford with his wife and two children. Judge Persky said he would be “receptive” to downgrading his crime to a misdemeanour charge if the defendant complied with the rules of his probation for one year. The one-year mark is on 25 August.
The Persky recall campaign found that 14 other offenders, overseen by 11 other judges, who were charged between 2012 and 2016 in Santa Clara county with a similar crime and either pleaded guilty or no contest were sentenced to at least six months in jail.
Joseph Macaluso, spokesman for the court, told the Guardian that the “defence, the district attorney and the judge discussed this matter before a stance was imposed.”
Mr Persky has found backing among some of his colleagues, including deputy public defender in Santa Clara County, Sajid Khan, who started a petition to support the judge. It has raised close to 400 signatures.
In June, the judge was re-elected for another term until 2022 - he ran unopposed for the position. More than two million names have been gathered for two petitions to remove Mr Persky from the Turner case.
He was also criticised for sentencing a man called Tony Chiang to “weekend jail” after he was convicted for aggravated battery against his then-fiancé.
Mr Persky was also reported to have ruled in favour of a group of college basketball players who were accused of gang rape. The players were allowed to use photographs of the victim wearing a revealing outfit at a party more than 12 months after the alleged assault to prove that she did not have post-traumatic stress disorder in a civil trial.
If the recall effort succeeds, the earliest Mr Persky could be forced to stand down is November 2017, said Ms Dauber.
Original article posted by The Independent
By Rachael Revesz
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