- Education and Science»
- Law & Legal Issues
Stanford Judge and Sheriff Have History with Affluenza in Rape Cases
Judge Aaron Persky is in the national spotlight today after giving a rapist convicted of three felonies an effective 3 month sentence. The Santa Clara County Sheriff, Laurie Smith, is under fire for helping protect the identity of the man who raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster by refusing to release booking photos for months. When her office finally did release a photo, they attempted to only release a sentencing photo, showing Brock Turner, convicted rapist, cleaned up and dressed in a suit for his court appearance.
But this is not the first failure of either of these people, and they share a failure in one case in particular. In 2007 a young underage girl was raped at a party with members of the De Anza College baseball team. She became inebriated and at some point ended up in a room what is reported as at least 9 of the players sexually assaulting her. Witnesses who finally managed to get the girl out of the room were at first concerned that she may be dead. She had been vomited on, she was incoherent.
Sheriff Laurie Smith, who helped protect Turner's identity, was the primary agency in the De Anza rape case and failed to properly investigate the case reportedly due to an administrative decision to not send detectives to the scene. (As I searched I found it is not uncommon for the sheriff to have problems in successfully administering investigations in her county) Ultimately, because the time delays caused lost evidence, there were no criminal charges. The timeline for the case was never made completely clear by the sheriff, and she had a full blown PR campaign protecting the failures pushing blame off to the District Attorney. Insiders reported that the Captain of investigations, based on the Sheriff's standing order, refused to send out detectives to conduct a full investigation on overtime because of costs. This left evidence unsupervised, possibly for almost a full day, in the hands of young men who knew they were about to face a criminal investigation. By the time detectives showed up witnesses said evidence had been moved, had disappeared, been cleaned up, and stories had been coordinated.
Ultimately the criminal case never came to fruition, but a civil case was filed in 2011 after years of trying to get criminal charges from the botched investigation. The civil case ended up in front of Judge Aaron Persky, who then allowed the victim to be slut-shamed by several attorney's hired by the defendants in a series of controversial decisions. The case had been distressing to the public, even though much of what was happening was hidden by a concerted PR campaign by the sheriff to insist it was a rape, that the evidence was whole, and the DA (who lost her next election) was wrong in refusing to prosecute.
Persky ran the case as if it was a persecution of the victim's character. Allowing FB photos of her dressed in sexy clothing many months after the assault as evidence that the boys weren't responsible for their actions. The veracity of the witnesses who rescued the victim were brought into question; 3 women who played on the school soccer team didn't carry the weight of 9 rapists because they too had been drinking. Never mind these boys had been drinking as well, they're boys and we know how boys are. The defense argued that the victim had given consent while she was still coherent and it was ignored that the California law states consent cannot be given, even if had been given previously, while a person is unconscious. I'm quite sure that a young 17 year old would in no way give permission to be vomited on as she was sexually used, but so it goes in the court room of Aaron Persky.
Ultimately the two attackers who didn't settle or get dropped from the case were found not liable for the assault on the young woman.
The greatest slap in the face is not just that this judge and this sheriff remain in office to this day to help along the poor suffering Brock Turner after becoming a victim of his own entitlement; the day the nation finally takes notice and ramps up demands for a recall of this judge is the same day that he quietly automatically gains another term in office because he is up for election and running unopposed.
Perhaps we should be as angry at the communities of Santa Clara County as we are at this judge.