Judge Aaron Persky has remained in national headlines ever since he sent Brock Turner to jail for only six months — which actually turned into three months — after Turner was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman.
Persky’s sentencing decision was criticized as too lenient and possibly motivated by Turner being a white, successful athlete, as he was a swimmer at Stanford at the time. Now, a report by BuzzFeed finds it wouldn’t be the first time Persky was lenient on a student athlete who was violent against women.
Ikaika Gunderson, 21, beat up his girlfriend in a car in February 2015, telling her “don’t raise your voice at me, I’m a man,” before punching her in the face, splitting her lip and choking her, according to the victim’s statement.
When the unidentified 20-year-old woman went to the hospital later that night, an officer reported that her face and lips were swollen, there were cuts and bruises on her face and body and her left eye had broken blood vessels.
Gunderson confessed to police and pleaded no contest to the charges three months later, according to BuzzFeed. He faced four years in state prison, but the football player got a break: Persky agreed to delay his sentencing hearing for a year so Gunderson could attend the University of Hawaii and play football there.
If Gunderson attended AA meetings and completed a year long domestic violence program, Persky said he would reduce the charges to a misdemeanor. Persky also told Gunderson he didn’t need to check in with a judge for seven months, and even then his attorney could check in for him to save a trip from Hawaii to California.
“I think it should have been stricter,” the victim told BuzzFeed. “They didn’t even check in on him or anything like that the whole time?”
Gunderson dropped out of college by October, and stopped attending the domestic violence program and AA meetings. He was arrested in December for another domestic violence charge, this time for allegedly punching his father during a family argument.
Persky ordered Gunderson to appear in court personally in January, where Gunderson’s attorney tried to keep the same parameters in place. The prosecutor objected, and Gunderson’s sentencing hearing was scheduled for March 2016. He was sentenced to four months in county jail and three years probation. He actually served two months in jail, BuzzFeed reports.
Persky requested Thursday that he be moved from criminal to civil courts, citing concern with increased media attention to his cases since his decision in Brock Turner’s case. A recall campaign has been launched for Persky.
Turner is scheduled to be released Sept. 2.