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Aaron Persky, Brock Turner’s Sentencing Judge, Loses Tennis Coach Job Following Media Exposure

First sitting judge in 80 years to be recalled by voters

By Matthew Keys, September 13, 2019 11:47 am

A judge who was recalled by Bay Area voters after giving a man six months in prison for sexual assault, lost another job earlier this week thanks in large part to media exposure.

Aaron Persky was hired by Lynbrook High School in San Jose to coach tennis over the summer, according to NBC station KNTV (Channel 11).

In a statement to the media outlet, an official with the school said Persky was awarded the job after completing a background check and ticking the boxes on other pre-employment qualifications.

“Mr. Persky is in his first year as an athletic coach in our District. He applied for the open coaching position over the summer and successfully completed all of the District’s hiring requirements before starting as a coach, including a fingerprint background check,” the official wrote. “He was a highly qualified applicant, having attended several tennis coaching clinics for youth and holds a high rating from the United States Tennis Association.”

In 2016, Persky became the first sitting judge in 80 years to be recalled by voters in California over his handling of the sentencing of Brock Turner, a Stanford student athlete who was accused of sexually assaulting an intoxicated woman near a dumpster in 2015. Turner was found guilty on all felony charges.

Turner faced a maximum of 14 years in state prison, but Persky sentenced him to just six months, saying he believed the swimmer’s assertion that the victim in the case provided consent.

“I mean, I take him at his word that, subjectively, that’s his version of events,” Persky said according to a transcript published by the Guardian. “The jury, obviously, found it to be not the sequence of events. Our criminal justice system relies on juries to evaluate facts – that’s why we have 12 people doing it – and to come to very difficult decisions about very specific factual incidents.”

Before the pronouncement of the sentence, Persky said the trial was an “imperfect process” but that “everybody is bound by that verdict.”

“But I’m not convinced that his lack of complete acquiescence to the verdict should count against him with respect to an expression of remorse because I do find that his remorse is genuine,” Persky said, adding that Turner was also intoxicated at the time of the incident and that he felt the athlete posed no danger to the community that would warrant a jail sentence.

Persky was cleared of misconduct by an independent state agency in late 2016, but unhappy residents who felt justice was not served led a successful recall campaign against the judge. He was formally recalled by voters in 2018 after spending nearly 15 years as a judge.

It wasn’t immediately clear what Persky did in-between jobs, but his job as a tennis coach likely surfaced as news outlets began following up on players in the Brock Turner case after the victim made her identity know for the first time earlier this month. Just a few days after Chanel Miller’s name became publicly known — she is currently promoting her upcoming memoir as well as a forthcoming 60 Minutes interview — so, too, did Persky’s job as a coach.

Reporters from KNTV began asking about Persky’s job with the high school last week, according to a statement from the school, and a meeting was held with parents on Sept. 9 “to provide parents with background on the situation.”

Just one day after KNTV aired its report on Persky’s new career, he was fired. In a statement, Persky said the school’s decision to let him go was due to “potentially intrusive media attention related to my hiring.”

“Although I am disappointed with the District’s decision, it was a privilege to coach the team, if only for a short time. I wish all of the players the best in their future academic and athletic endeavors.”

In a follow up statement, a Lynbrook High School official said the decision to terminate Persky’s employment “is in the best interest of our students and school community.” The school declined to provide additional information on Persky’s employment and subsequent firing, noting that the case was a “personnel matter.”

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a newspaper reporter and contributor to the California Globe. He is based near Sacramento.
Matthew Keys
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