The judge who sparked widespread outrage -- and a credible recall campaign -- after handing down a lenient sentence to a Stanford University swimmer convicted of rape is seeking money to help remain on the bench.
Judge Aaron Persky made his first public statement about the Brock Turner case on a website devoted to fighting the recall effort, reported The Mercury News.
"I believe strongly in judicial independence," the judge said in a statement posted on RetainJudgePersky.com. "I took an oath to uphold the Constitution, not to appease politicians or ideologues. When your own rights and property are at stake, you want the judge to make a fair and lawful decision, free from political influence."
Perksy said he'd earned a "reputation for being fair to both sides" in a 20-year career as a public servant, including as a criminal prosecutor in Santa Clara County and in 12 years as a Superior Court judge.
He asked other California judges for funding assistance and endorsements, and his website claims to have raised $3,600 -- which is far less than the $100,000-plus raised by his recall proponents.
The judge sentenced Turner, a former All-American swimmer, to just six months in jail, which was cut to three months with good behavior, for a conviction for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman.
Turner left jail on Friday and will return to his hometown in Ohio.
Persky imposed a lighter sentence than the potential 14-year prison term, saying anything more severe would have a "severe impact" on the former star athlete.
A petition drive to remove Persky from the bench, after he earned a six-year term in June, drew more than 1 million signatures.
Persky said last week that he had requested to be removed from criminal cases and assigned to the court's civil division.