Wrong message merits the right one

It may have been the fact that lots of young men get drunk and still manage to refrain from raping women that spelled the end of Santa Clara County, Calif., Judge Aaron Persky’s career on the bench.

Persky drew fire two years ago when he sentenced Stanford University athlete Brock Turner to just six months in jail for raping a woman. Turner served just half of that.

This week, voters agreed to recall Persky — that is, remove Persky from office. After 15 years on the bench, he became the first California judge to meet that fate since 1932.

Critics of the recall movement questioned the prudence of removing a judge for a single unpopular decision. Obviously, they have a point. Judges must take many factors into consideration. Sometimes they do not rule as many of us wish.

But the Turner sentence was especially egregious. By slapping Turner on the wrist, Persky sent a message that outraged many women.

Persky insisted he was just following the recommendation of a probation officer to go easy on Turner because of his age (20, at the time), his clean criminal record and the fact he and the victim were intoxicated when the assault occurred.

None of those factors merited lenient treatment of Turner, of course.

Two years ago, Persky sent the wrong message about sexual assault. On Tuesday, voters in his county sent the right one.


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