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Brock Turner Judge Delayed Sentencing for Domestic Abuser so He Could Play Football


Judge Persky image via The Recorder It’s been a busy news cycle for Judge Aaron Persky. The judge became infamous in June for giving a light sentence to Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner after he was convicted of felony sexual assault, and it’s followed him ever since. Almost immediately, potential jurors cited his presence as a hardship, prosecutors stopped him from hearing another sexual assault case, and, when his past record was scrutinized, he was criticized for giving the defense an overly long leash in the civil gang rape trial of a group of college baseball players. For a while, it was quiet, but then came this week: On Tuesday, Persky recused himself from ruling in a child pornography case, on Thursday, he asked to be moved to civil court, and on Friday, BuzzFeed found yet another case of alleged violence where he apparently went easy on yet another student athlete.

Last year, in February 2015, Persky was assigned a case where 21-year-old Ikaika Gunderson was charged with beating and choking his ex-girlfriend. At least based on Google results, there was no coverage of the case at the time. Gunderson confessed almost immediately, and three months later, he entered a no contest plea on a felony domestic violence charge, for which he faced a potential four years in a state prison. The norm in domestic violence cases is to proceed to sentencing. However, the defendant apparently wishing a couple months got Persky to delay it over a year so Gunderson could play football at the University of Hawaii. The sentencing was officially scheduled for last month, July 2016.

The conditions? Complete a year-long domestic violence program and attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings at least once a week. Gunderson would not have to meet with a probation officer, and he wouldn’t have to update the judge for seven months…plus his lawyer could do it for him. This was all done in a way to get around The Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision, a federal law that requires adult offenders to get permission to move out of state, and Hawaiian authorities were apparently not informed of any of this.

Unfortunately, you can guess what happened next: Gunderson didn’t attend the A.A. meetings or the domestic violence program. He was charged in another domestic violence case less than a year later, this time in Washington state. Since he wasn’t actually on probation, there was nobody to keep track of whether  he was adhering to the conditions of the sentencing delay.


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David Bixenspan is a writer, editor, and podcaster based in New York.