Aaron Persky, the judge who sentenced 20-year-old Brock Turner to six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, is presiding over a plea agreement in which a Latino man faces three years in jail for committing a similar crime, The Guardian reported.
The harsher sentencing in the case, which bears striking resemblance to details in Turner’s case, has drawn rebuke and further accusations of Persky’s perceived bias.
In the recent case, Raul Ramirez, a 32-year-old immigrant from El Salvador, sexually assaulted his female roommate in 2014, according to The Guardian. Ramierez walked into the roommate’s room and inserted his fingers into her genitals against her will, according to a police report, which also noted he stopped once she started crying.
Ramirez reportedly apologised when police arrived on the scene. “[He] knew what he did was wrong and he wanted to say sorry,” an officer wrote, according to The Guardian.
Ramierz has agreed to plead guilty to felony sexual penetration by force. Under the terms of the plea deal, which Persky is expected to finalise, Ramirez will spend the minimum punishment of three years in a state prison.
During Turner’s 2015 assault, the ex-Stanford swimmer, was found inserting his fingers into the genitals of a female who was unconscious behind a dumpster. Two graduate students saw the incident taking place and pinned Turner down until police arrived.
Turner has maintained his innocence, pointing to the “party culture” at Stanford and his intoxication the night of the assault as explanation for his actions.
He was convicted of three felony counts of sexual assault — assault with intent to rape an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object, and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object.
Persky sentenced Turner to six months in jail, though he’s expected to be released in three months. Persky made an exception to the two-year minimum for Turner’s charges.
According to a statement Persky made during sentencing, the victim’s statement, character references from friends and family, media attention, and Turner’s lack of a criminal record contributed to his decision.
“What’s happened with Mr Ramirez is standard,” Alexander Cross, a defence attorney who represented Ramirez for a short time, told The Guardian. “The anomaly is the Stanford case.”
Critics have accused Persky — also a star athlete during his time at Stanford — of bias in sentencing Turner. The San Jose Mercury News, for one, called the sentence “a slap on the wrist.”
Peter Arenella, a professor of law emeritus at UCLA,
“This sentencing judge erred in my opinion because of an unconscious class bias and a failure to give adequate weight to the severity of the crime and the defendant’s great culpability in committing it in this manner,” Arenella previously told Business Insider.
Since Turner’s sentencing, more than 1 million people have signed petitions calling for the permanent removal of Persky, who was recently excused from another sexual assault case.
An Associated Press review of Persky’s rulings, however, shows that Persky has followed the sentencing recommendations that the Santa Clara County Probation Department provides ever since he began presiding over the Palo Alto criminal court in 2015.
The Guardian could not reach Ramirez, nor multiple attorneys who represented him, for comment. Persky is barred from commenting on pending cases, according to The Guardian.
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