Judge Aaron Persky, who presided over the controversial sexual assault case involving Brock Turner, has been removed from a new sexual assault case, NBC News reported on Wednesday, June 15, citing the Santa Clara County District Attorney's office.
Prosecutors reportedly requested the removal after the judge dismissed a misdemeanor stolen-mail case in the middle of a trial. "We are disappointed and puzzled at Judge Persky's unusual decision to unilaterally dismiss a case before the jury could deliberate," District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement to NBC.
"After this and the recent turn of events, we lack confidence that Judge Persky can fairly participate in this upcoming hearing in which a male nurse sexually assaulted an anesthetized female patient," Rosen added.
The "recent turn of events" comment is no doubt a reference to the Turner case, which made national headlines earlier this month. Turner, a former Stanford University swimmer, was convicted on three felony counts of sexual assault for attacking an unconscious woman behind a Dumpster. Persky sentenced the 20-year-old to six months in county jail, but Turner is expected to serve only three months behind bars.
The judge has since faced intense backlash from people who think the sentence was too lenient. Stanford law professor and sociologist Michele Dauber is leading the charge, and more than 1.2 million people have signed a petition to recall Persky from the bench.
In the wake of the sentencing, some prospective jurors have even refused to serve in Persky's court. And one member of the jury from Turner's trial criticized the judge in a letter, stating, "I was absolutely shocked and appalled when I heard on June 2 about the minimal sentence you announced that Mr. Turner would serve for this crime."
"After the guilty verdict I expected that this case would serve as a very strong deterrent to on-campus assaults but with the ridiculously lenient sentence that Brock Turner received, I am afraid that it makes a mockery of the whole trial and the ability of the justice system to protect victims of assault," the juror wrote. "Clearly there are few to no consequences for a rapist even if they are caught in the act of assaulting a defenseless, unconscious person."
Sign up now for the Us Weekly newsletter to get breaking celebrity news, hot pics and more delivered straight to your inbox!