Ex-Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner is set to walk free from a California jail Friday morning. He would be three months shy of a six-month sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman outside of a fraternity house in January 2015.
While the now-21-year-old Turner has been expelled from the school, the firestorm ignited by the judge's sentencing — blasted by critics as "a slap on the wrist" — has prompted an outcry by advocates who want stricter penalties for sex offenders.
Ultimately, the fallout could not only have a lasting effect on those involved, but on other cases of rape as well.
What happens next for Turner?
Turner's sentence includes three years of probation in addition to the six months of jail time.
He is expected to be released early based on good behavior — not uncommon in Santa Clara County Jail, where inmates can serve half of their sentences if they maintain a clean record, according to The Associated Press.
Turner, of Dayton, Ohio, faced a maximum of 14 years in prison for the rape-related charges against him. But during sentencing, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky agreed with letters from family members and supporters that Turner's status as a first-time offender, as well as the impact on his future, discouraged the harshest penalties.
It's unclear whether Turner's probation would include community service, and his early release doesn't suggest he will be placed under house arrest either, according to reports. Upon his release, however, he must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, complete a sex offender management program and submit to random drug and alcohol tests.
What has happened to Judge Persky?
Persky announced his sentencing of Turner on June 2 — just days before he won a new six-year term as a superior court judge after running unopposed. Opponents did not have enough time to mount a challenge against him.
After prospective jurors refused to serve under Persky following Turner's sentencing, the judge's past actions on similar assault cases came under intense scrutiny — and were accompanied by threats against him and demands that he step down.
He recused himself from another sex crimes case last week to appease concerns that he would not be impartial. He has since asked to be reassigned to only oversee civil cases, the Santa Clara Superior Court said in a statement Thursday.
"While I firmly believe in Judge Persky's ability to serve in his current assignment, he has requested to be assigned to the civil division, in which he previously served," presiding Judge Rise Jones Pichon said in a statement. "Judge Persky believes the change will aid the public and the court by reducing the distractions that threaten to interfere with his ability to effectively discharge the duties of his current criminal assignment."
Persky can't comment publicly on the Turner case until the probation period is over.
What's the status of the grassroots campaign to recall Persky?
Since Persky won re-election, opponents have planned to oust him via a recall effort that could happen as soon as November of next year.
Michele Dauber, a Stanford law professor and committee chair of the "Recall Judge Aaron Persky" campaign, said the petition would need an estimated 80,000 verifiable signatures to become a local ballot measure. The group has raised more than $100,000, according to its latest campaign finance report.
As part of the recall, voters would get a chance to pick either Persky or another candidate running to replace him.
Dauber said the recall group can begin collecting signatures next April, and she is confident the campaign won't lose steam.
"We're continuing to look into (Persky's) records and find new examples of his bias in sex crimes against women," she told NBC News.
Despite Persky's move to the court's civil division, Dauber is still opposing his judgeship because "he can still transfer back to hearing criminal cases any time he chooses."
The recall group plans to hold a rally in front of the Santa Clara Hall of Justice, which is next to the jail, just as Turner is released Friday.
Persky, meanwhile, has his own anti-recall effort brewing to fight his opponents. He has been reaching out to fellow judges for financial support and endorsements, according to The Mercury News.
"As a judge, I have heard thousands of cases. I have a reputation for being fair to both sides," Persky said in a statement posted this week on the website of the group "Retain Judge Persky."
"I believe strongly in judicial independence. I took an oath to uphold the Constitution, not to appease politicians or ideologues," Persky said in the statement. "When your own rights and property are at stake, you want the judge to make a fair and lawful decision, free from political influence."
Will a bill enforcing mandatory minimum sentences for all cases of sexual assaults become law?
The bill, known as AB 2888, passed the state Assembly unanimously Monday, and is now headed for Gov. Jerry Brown's desk.
The legislation would require courts to treat punishment for those convicted of a sexual assault against someone who's unconscious or too intoxicated to give consent the same as if the victim were conscious.
While opponents of the bill say the merits of the legislation are well-intentioned, it could disproportionately affect minorities who are often unfairly penalized by mandatory minimum sentencing.
Brown's office this week did not immediately comment on whether the governor, who has been outspoken about lengthier incarceration in certain cases, will sign the bill.
Has Stanford implemented any policy changes in light of the case?
The school announced last week that hard liquor is banned at all undergraduate on-campus parties. Beer and wine, however, are still allowed.
Turner blamed his heavy drinking for what happened on the night of the assault, although his victim, in a letter that went viral, said he should take responsibility for his actions — not use alcohol as an excuse.
School officials said the ban came after several months of discussions over concerns of alcohol "misuse," which they warned can lead to physical violence, sexual violence and death.
"We need new solutions," Stanford’s president, John Hennessy, wrote to students in March. "Solutions that reduce risk for students, that reduce the pressure on students to drink and that meaningfully change our culture around alcohol."
But critics worry that the ban might only drive drinking into dorms and doesn't properly address the core issue of sexual violence and unchecked binge drinking at Greek fraternities.