Persky opponents say petition close to having enough signatures for recall

The national movement against sexual assault adn sexual violence is adding to the fire surrounding the recall of a sitting Santa Clara County judge.

Aaron Persky is at the center of that effort, and opponents say they're close to collecting enough signatures to put his removal from the bench on the ballet next Spring.

Michele Dauber, chairwoman of the Campaign to Recall Persky says she has about 80-percent of the needed verified signatures to achieve the goal.

"We are n the middle of a national inflection point on the issue of sexual harassment and sexual violence. and I think the votes of Santa Clara county are seeing that," said Dauber.

In a little more than two and a half months, Dauber and her supporters are close to crossing the signature threshold to have Judge Persky recall placed on the June ballot. The group has been using billboards to attack like-minded voters.

Now it's releasing a series of  #metoo videos of sex assault victims. The video let's victims tell their stories in first-person, ending with the phrase, "me too." The videos tap into a national backlash against abhorrent behavior, and bias against seeing the seriousness of these types of criminal acts.

"Our volunteers were really inspired by the me-too campaign. and wanted to tell their own stories, both of what happened to them, and why that figured into their decision to volunteer for our campaign," said Dauber. 

Efforts to remove Judge Aaron Persky from the Superior Court bench exploded in September 2016. This, after he sentenced former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner to six-months in jail. Turner was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman outside a frat party, and served half his sentenced, and was released. Critics say the sentence was too lenient and part of a pattern by Persky to go easy on males convicted of crimes against women.

"We need judges who understand sexual assault and sexual violence, and take it seriously," states one of the women appearing in the #metoo video.

While the effort to oust Persky moves ahead, one lawyer poised to replace him says she's qualified for the bench. Deputy district attorney Cindy Hendrickson tells KTVU, "previously disenfranchised people are finally having a voice." She says county residents are, "using the tools of democracy to try and unseat [Persky] and I'm standing up to offer those folks a superior alternative."

"We feel very positive that there will be some good choices for the voters," said Dauber.

This week, Persky started a new role as the night judge, responsible for emergency protective orders, which makes his critics uneasy.

He has said California law requires a judge to consider both sides, and consider rehabilitation and probation for first time offenders, which Turner was when convicted. He says it's the law and he'll follow the law without regard to public opinion. As for the backlash against him, recall proponents plan to release new batches of #metoo videos on YouTube each Tuesday and Thursday of every week, starting next week.