More than one million people have signed an online petition to have a U.S. judge in California removed from the bench following his lenient sentence of a male college student who was convicted of raping a young woman.
Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky gave Stanford University star athlete Brock Turner a six-month jail sentence and three years' probation for his sexual assault on an unconscious woman behind a campus dumpster (rubbish bin) last year.
A jury found Turner guilty on three felony counts: assault with the intent to commit rape of an unconscious person, sexual penetration of an unconscious person and sexual penetration of an intoxicated person.
Turner is expected to serve only three months in California's notoriously overcrowded jail system. Convicts with a clean disciplinary record in the county jail generally are released when half of their sentences are completed.
The soft sentence and a letter to the judge from the defendant's father have sparked outrage across the country.
Vice President Joe Biden, who penned the 1994 Violence Against Women Act and is involved in the White House's "It's On Us" campaign against campus sexual assault, wrote an open letter to the rape survivor.
"I am filled with furious anger - both that this happened to you and that our culture is still so broken that you were ever put in the position of defending your own worth," Biden said. "You are a warrior - with a solid steel spine."
The 23-year-old woman, who has not been publicly identified, read aloud a scathing letter in the courtroom, addressed to her attacker.
The woman wrote: "I thought there's no way this is going to trial; there were witnesses, there was dirt in my body, he ran but was caught. He's going to settle [the case], formally apologize and we will both move on. Instead, I was told he hired a powerful attorney, expert witnesses, private investigators who were going to try and find details about my personal life..."
Two Swedish men on bicycles stopped the attack when they approached. Turner ran, but the men tackled him. The woman said in her letter when the police arrived one of the men "was crying so hard he couldn't speak because of what he'd seen."
The woman's letter to her attacker, widely published online, continued: "...the only reason we were on the ground was because I fell down Note: if a girl falls down, help her get up. If she is too drunk to even walk and falls down, do not mount her, hump her, take off her underwear, and insert your hand inside her vagina. If a girl falls down, help her up."
Turner's father wrote a letter to the judge downplaying his son's actions that night and bemoaning the ramifications his son now faces.
"His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve," Dan Turner wrote. "That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of his life."
His father lamented, "The fact that he now has to register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life alters where he can live, visit, work and how he will be able to interact with people and organizations."