California Attorney General Kamala Harris, the leading U.S. Senate candidate from the state, has joined the outpouring of criticism against a six-month jail sentence given to a former Stanford University swimmer convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman.
Harris, speaking to reporters in the San Francisco Bay area on Wednesday, said she was concerned that the “victim’s voice was not heard” at the trial.
“It was not respected, and she was not given dignity in the process,” said Harris, a Democrat, according to video from a local television station.
With the comments, Harris has become the most high-profile elected official in California to question the sentence for former Stanford student Brock Turner, 20, last week by a Santa Clara Superior Court judge. Prosecutors had asked for a six-year prison term.
“When someone is facing a 14-year (maximum sentence), which is what I believe was the exposure in this case, there has got to be extraordinarily mitigating facts to reduce it down to what I believe ended up being six months,” Harris told reporters. “And I don’t know if the facts actually merit that kind of mitigation.”
Officials have said the judge, Aaron Persky, has received death threats since imposing the sentence, even as he faces a possible recall effort led by a Stanford law professor.
Joseph Macaluso, a spokesman for the Santa Clara County court, has said Persky is prohibited from commenting on the case because Turner is appealing his conviction.
Macaluso was not immediately available for comment on Thursday morning.
The national uproar over the sentence, fueled in part by the victim’s harrowing statement detailing the January 2015 assault in graphic terms and its repercussions on her life, is part of the growing outrage over rape on U.S. college campuses.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)