The judge who let Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner off with a slap on the wrist for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman also gave a violent domestic abuser “weekend jail.”
The Guardian reported on Monday that California Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky is coming under fire for what appears to be a pattern of leniency toward privileged male defendants.
The London-based newspaper said that just 30 minutes before the victim in the Brock Turner case made her moving courtroom statement — which went viral and made the case famous around the world — a Chinese immigrant identified as Jane Doe testified that her 37-year-old fiancé tried to beat her to death.
Holding up graphic photos that showed that “her face and shirt were covered in blood, and her body was bruised,” Doe said that Silicon Valley engineer Ming Hsuan Chiang attacked and mercilessly beat her on October 6, 2014.
“He hit me nonstop,” she reportedly told an officer at the scene. “He was trying to kill me.”
On the night of the attack, witnesses said that Chiang dragged his fiancé across the yard of their house in Sunnyvale, CA, just a few miles from the Stanford campus. She attempted to run away from him, but Chiang “continued to attack her further…by pulling and throwing her.”
Onlookers — many of whom had turned out for the Brock Turner case hearing that day — gasped audibly at the images of abuse. However, Judge Persky sentenced Chiang to 12 weekends in jail, allowing him to continue to live and work as a free man during the week.
Doe had reportedly been living with threats and violence for some time. At one point, Chiang threatened her, saying, “Don’t think I won’t kill you.”
Doe, who emigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan as a teenager, said that fear of Chiang kept her silent for many months, but after police intervened in the October, 2014 attack, she hoped that he would face justice.
“I have evidence. I have witnesses. I have police reports. I have photos,” she said. “If he had used more force, maybe I’d be dead or my brain would be dead.”
Persky has come under intense scrutiny since the Brock Turner case, in which he gave Turner a six-month jail sentence for the brutal rape of an unconscious woman he met in a bar. Persky said that a longer sentence — such as the state-mandated 2-year minimum sentence for such crimes — could negatively impact the college student’s longterm prospects in school and life.
Doe told the Guardian that she watched the Turner case and sentencing unfold and couldn’t help but notice the similarities to her own case.
“It’s just like the Stanford case,” she said, in that the defendant is a well-off, privileged man who can afford a private lawyer.
In court, Chiang pleaded no contest to felony domestic abuse charges, which under California law could have landed him in federal prison for four years. Instead, Persky sentenced the defendant to 72 days in the county jail, which he can serve on weekends so as not to disrupt his work schedule.
Prosecutor Kalila Spain told the Guardian that Chiang is likely to serve only half of those days.
Doe said in court that she struggles daily with post-traumatic stress in the aftermath of the attack. She was outraged that Chiang and his defense team could negotiate such a lenient sentence for what was done to her.
“As the victim, when I get beaten, can I ask for a better offer? Can I ask for a ‘discount’ beating?” she said. “There’s no opportunity for me to negotiate.”
Persky, apparently annoyed that the victim — whose first language is not English — was taking so long to read her prepared statement, told her to hurry up and finish on multiple occasions.
At the end of her statement, Persky decline to respond, but instead went into a huddle with Chiang’s lawyers to ensure that were he jailed on the weekend, he would be out in time to go to work on Monday.
Stanford law school professor Michele Landis Dauber is leading a recall campaign against Persky. She told the Guardian, “It’s clearly a pattern of failing to take violence against women seriously. [Persky] seemed way more concerned about whether Mr Chiang would get to work on time than he did about how this victim is doing and how she was managing the trauma he had inflicted on her.”
She continued, “In addition to the fact that he treated her insensitively, the sentence itself is manifestly insensitive to the brutality of the beating.”
Doe told the Guardian that nonwhites typically get shoddy treatment from the justice system.
“Minority people don’t get sufficient resources,” she said. “Today, only I’m suffering. But how about tomorrow? How about the next girl? Where can we search for help?”