The reviled California judge who gave star Stanford swimmer Brock Turner a six-month jail sentence for felony sexual assault — fearing a longer sentence would have a “severe impact” on the student — apparently didn’t have the same sympathy for an immigrant convicted in a similar case.
Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky will soon hand down a three-year prison sentence to El Salvador immigrant Raul Ramirez, who pleaded guilty earlier this year to an offense similar to Turner’s, according to documents obtained by The Guardian.
Ramirez, 32, agreed in March to plead guilty to felony sexual penetration by force, in a deal in which he would receive three years in prison — the minimum punishment for that offense. He confessed to penetrating his female roommate with his fingers for five to 10 minutes in November 2014, only stopping when the woman broke down crying.
Even with his minimum sentence, Ramirez’s punishment is much more severe than what Turner faced for digitally penetrating an unconscious woman near a Stanford frat party.
After Turner was convicted of three felony assault charges — and saw his friends and family members write letters of support to his judge — Persky gave him only six months in jail.
Turner’s sentence was eventually reduced even more, to merely three months. Turner admitted to his sexual contact with the woman, but insisted it was consensual.
Persky’s sentence brought national infamy to the Turner case, with critics accusing the judge of giving privileged treatment to the white, well-to-do student-athlete who aspired to compete in the Olympics.
(Stanford University’s Department of Public Safety)
Ramirez did not enjoy such advantages during his case. He used a Spanish interpreter in court, and his bail was set at $ 200,000 — making it $ 50,000 higher than Turner’s. Ramirez’s immigration status was not clear from reports.
Like Turner, Ramirez did not have a criminal record.
One of Ramirez’s lawyers told The Guardian the different sentences likely came from one distinction in the cases: Ramirez’s victim was conscious during the attack, which California law treats as a more serious offense.
But the Turner case inspired the introduction of a bill this month calling for the assault of unconscious victims to also carry a three-year minimum sentence.
The Turner case also led to national calls for Persky’s removal, with more than 1.2 million people signing a petition to kick him out of office. Persky was recently removed from an upcoming sexual assault case, with the district attorney’s office saying it “lack(s) confidence” in his judgement.
Persky will formalize Ramirez’s sentence at an undisclosed date.