Persky was the Santa Clara County judge who conducted the Brock Turner sexual offense trial and sentenced the Stanford student to six months in jail. That sentence produced an outcry, led by Stanford Prof. Michele Dauber, who said Turner should have been punished more; the sentence was too short for the crime committed. Dauber started a successful recall drive and Persky was forced out in the 2018 election.
Persky was recently hired by the Fremont Union High School District as junior varsity high school girls’ tennis coach at Lynbrook High School in San Jose. He was there a day and then was abruptly fired. The superintendent of the district said the firing to protect the students from the potentially intrusive media attention related to his hiring.
How ironic, if that was really the reason for the firing. The school district wanted to avoid media attention, but the firing prompted substantially more attention than Persky’s hiring would ever have received if he stayed on the job. And it’s a bit ludicrous to think students would be bothered by reporters on campus – a hiring is not worth such coverage.
But there may be other reasons. The district may have caved in because of a petition circulating online that said by hiring Persky, the district was, in effect, sending aa message that it didn't value the trauma undergone by the girl who was the victim, Chanel Miller, and others.
I think Persky is being used as a rallying symbol for all the judicial decisions over the years on sexual offenses that some women have felt were unfair because judges seemed to have dismissed the severity of the offense. So when the small-time coaching hiring came to light, the petition was circulated – three years after the incident and one year after Persky was recalled.
What bothers me is the school’s cowardly decision to fire Persky. Persky had done nothing wrong. He was the judge in the case, not the sexual offender. And taking on this coach job and then being fired one day later made big headlines – locally and nationally. Obviously, the work of a tennis coach had nothing to do with judicial decisions, which had been the complaint against Persky A judge – any judge – who makes a decision that some fell was unfair should be entitled to get on with the rest of his life. But the complainers are not allowing Persky to do that.
A letter in the San Jose Mercury this past Sunday also seemed to ignore the distinction between being a judge and being the sexual offender. “Why would a high school advocating for the physical and mental safety of their students even consider hiring a person who fails to acknowledge the full gravity of sexual assault to work with teenage girls?” Manvi Nawani of Cupertino signed it.
Persky was challenged to a recall election, which he lost. But he had never been hadn’t been implicated in any misconduct, malpractice or, certainly any crime.
This is not what our society is all about. To pound on Persky three years after his decision is unfair and unjust. Judges who made a poor decision still have a right to work and readjust their lives – and not be haunted and taunted by others.