Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky breaks silence amid recall effort

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Judge Aaron Persky held a news conference for the first time since a campaign was launched to recall him. (KGO-TV)

The judge who sentenced former Stanford student Brock Turner to a six-month sentence for sexual assault and is facing a recall election next month talked to reporters Tuesday morning.

It was the first time Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky has spoken publicly since the outcry by friends of the victim and others who think the sentence was too light.

FULL VIDEO: Aaron Persky speaks amid recall effort
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Aaron Persky, the judge at the center of a recall effort in Santa Clara County, broke his silence Tuesday.


Turner was released from the Santa Clara County Jail in September 2016 after serving three months of the sentence.

Judge Persky, who has been on the bench for 14 years, said he was surprised by "the amount of backlash" resulting from the Turner sentence, much of it generated, he said, on social media.

TIMELINE: How case against Brock Turner ignited debate on sexual assault

He explained that he has remained silent until now because he believed it is part of the job of judges to take criticism for difficult decisions. He told reporters, "I should zip it and take the heat." However, as the recall campaign has put out what he considers false and misleading claims, he decided to break his silence because a recall could happen when voters go the polls on June 5. "The stakes are too high," Judge Persky said.

What are those stakes? Judge Persky said he shouldn't be thinking about public reaction when he has to render sentences. He said he values judicial independence, but there are "dragons" in the background that are difficult to ignore, apparently meaning critics who will try to unseat them and spread misinformation without proper vetting.

VIDEO: Santa Clara Co. sheriff discusses Brock Turner's time in jail, release

Judge Persky said the recall has been difficult personally on family. He has been able to "isolate" his two sons, ages 7 and 9, although the older son did come across a pro-recall flyer and ask his father about it. It has been more difficult for his wife, who is never certain where friends and neighbors in the community stand on the recall.

If the recall is successful, the judge did not say what he plans to do, except that it will be something "good."

He was surrounded by a retired judge and several law professors, who are part of the "No Recall of Judge Persky" campaign.

Stanford law professor Michelle Dauber, who has been leading the recall movement, is talking to reporters Tuesday afternoon.

Click here for more stories, photos, and video on Brock Turner.
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