State Senate Hopeful Ann Ravel Says She Regrets Endorsing Judge Persky’s Campaign

Ann Ravel said she only ever defended Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky against a recall on principle. But the former Obama-appointed Federal Election Commission chair told San Jose Inside she now regrets being associated with a campaign that devolved into what she called “victim blaming and negativity.”

Ravel lent her name to ads denouncing an effort to recall the jurist over a controversially brief sentence he gave Stanford student Brock Turner for sexually assaulting a passed-out woman. As the local legal community closed ranks around Persky, she joined them for fear that his ouster would have a chilling effect on other judges.

But after an impassioned two-hour conversation with recall proponents Thursday night that at times brought her to tears, Ravel said she felt full of remorse for letting her idealism about the cause cloud her judgment of the reality.

“I had no idea that it became so negative or that it devolved into something so unconscionable,” she said in a phone call right after the talk. “Honestly, I’m still shaken.”

The 69-year-old attorney and lifelong accountability advocate requested the meeting as part of her bid to succeed state Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose) in 2020. At Panera Bread on Coleman Avenue, Ravel sat with recall allies Jennie Richardson, Sita Stukes (her months-old infant Archer in tow) and Stanford law professor Michele Dauber to talk about women’s issues, explain why she opposed their campaign that last year successfully removed Persky from the bench and came to terms with the outcome.

The pro-recall trio heard her out before presenting her with a list of statements from Persky’s defenders that disparaged Turner’s victim, known in court records and the public consciousness as Emily Doe. Several of the comments came from James McManis, of law firm McManis Faulkner where Ravel works.

Reading from a printout, Dauber told Ravel about the time Persky’s defenders, including retired judge LaDoris Cordell, questioned whether Doe wrote the gut-punch of a victim impact statement that made the case go viral. She told Ravel about the multiple instances in which McManis disputed settled facts of the case by saying the encounter by a trash bin where two witnesses found Turner heaving on an unconscious young woman was consensual, or that is was somehow less egregious because the pair had been drinking.

“This woman was not attacked,” McManis told a Vogue magazine reporter in one of the statements included on that list.

“This is not something where [Turner] was some kind of predator who was lurking around a dumpster and jumped her when she was going home,” he told the Palo Alto Daily Post in another excerpt shared with Ravel.

The list included a Facebook post by retired Judge Arthur Weissbrodt saying, “Do you realize, by the way, that the college freshman was found guilty of penetrating the drunk girl with his fingers(s), not his penis?” And the comment attorney Todd Rothbard made to KGO characterizing the assault as a “campus make-out session that went too far.”

Dauber, Richardson and Stukes played news clips of interviews in which similar sentiments were repeated. Ravel said she had no idea that the campaign she supported espoused such views, and that she felt horrified for being linked to the effort. She said she had no idea her name and face appeared on Persky’s website.

“It never crossed my mind that the campaign would indicate anything other than concern about when it’s appropriate to have a judicial recall,” she explained. “It was true that I told Persky that he could use my name as someone who supported his position, but I never agreed with all those things said later by other people associated with him.”

Ravel said she supported the underlying issue as a lifelong attorney who served as an elected representative on the Board of Governors of the State Bar of California, as a member of the state’s Judicial Council and chair of the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation. “I feel very strongly that there are only really rare circumstances for a recall of a judge,” she said, “and that’s how I viewed this. For me, I was looking at it in a narrow way when I agreed to this.”

After county voters removed Persky from the bench last June, Dauber, Richardson and Stukes worked their way into elected leadership of the Silicon Valley Democratic Club and spun off a political action group called Enough is Enough to continue their efforts to hold public officials accountable on issues of sexual violence and harassment.

The Recall Persky proponents said they appreciate Ravel’s apology.

“Aaron Persky's campaign engaged in a tremendous amount of victim blaming and we are glad that Ann, as a woman who wants to serve this county, now understands how much hurt this inflicted on women voters,” Dauber said the next morning. “Persky's campaign repeatedly attacked Emily Doe for being intoxicated and argued that Turner was somehow less deserving of punishment because of her intoxication. Those statements were shocking coming from the campaign of a judge, and that is in large part why he lost the confidence of women voters and lost the election.”

McManis in particular should be held accountable for repeatedly downplaying the gravity of Turner’s crime, she added.

“That was appalling,” Dauber said. “Hopefully Ann will reconsider her relationship with McManis and sever ties with his law firm, which also filed repeated frivolous litigation intended to cause delay, expense, and harass the recall campaign.”

With clarity of hindsight, Ravel said she realizes she could probably have been more vigilant about how her reputation was used. But she lost track of the recall battle as it neared the election because she was so focused on promoting campaign finance reform, a job that involved frequent international trips to conferences and speaking engagements.

“It was not at the top of my mind,” she said.

All that aside, Ravel said she feels grateful for the chance to talk about the issue.

“I’ve always lived by the principle of transparency,” she said the day after the meeting. “And I want to stay true to that.”

Jennifer Wadsworth is the news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

20 Comments

  1. That reminds me what ever happened to that homeless guy that raped the good Samaritan down in San Martin?

  2. “But after an impassioned two-hour conversation with recall proponents Thursday night that at times brought her to tears, Ravel said she felt full of remorse for letting her idealism about the cause cloud her judgment of the reality.

    “I had no idea that it became so negative or that it devolved into something so unconscionable,” she said in a phone call right after the talk. “Honestly, I’m still shaken.”…But she did the deed because it served her immediate purpose.

    Now we are supposed to have a group hug and cry that she has once sinned and now we have the contrite heart of the penitent in our midst.

    “Honestly, I’m still shaken.” says Ravel with tears in her eyes.

    “Honestly, I’m still shaken,” says I who wonders why this goofy woman thinks herself worthy of anyone’s vote.
    David S. Wall

    • I am a democrat; I won’t vote for her. I appreciate those who defend a cause even if I do not share it than those that move to the side that serves ther agenda. If she is the only one running for this position, I will vote for Mimi mouse.

  3. GOOD GOD, I’M A GENIUS!

    The first time SJI tried to hype Ravel, I wrote:

    ————————————
    > “It’s not the politicians necessarily who are bad, it’s the system that’s bad,” she explains.

    Good grief!

    She makes empty suits look like rocket surgeons.

    The definition of a “bad system” is any system that would elect her.
    ———————————–

    I can’t do any better than that!

    • Bubble you are for once using the two cents of neuronal cells God has given you. When God gives you a talent he expect you to use it. Then, he will give you more. If you do not use it he will take it away from you. I am with you on this thoughtful rational. Individuals make systems. When we talk about systemic corruption what it means is that most individuals making that system are corrupted, political, judicial, Santa Clara county Supervisors, JEFF ROSEN…RECALL HIM…SHALOM.

  4. Sorry, I don’t buy Ravel’s repentance one bit. How could she not know just how toxic the issue became as Persky and his minions defended their position and his seat on the bench. This business about her losing track of the recall battle and how her name was used is a crock. The best interpretation of the situation is that she is just too old and out of touch with the issues to serve the people of California. Now that she’s running for office, of course she wants to be on the winning team, the team that sent Judge Persky packing. Just like a politician, she read the writing on the wall and no longer wants her name associated with his. Under the bus he goes.

  5. Prior to announcing her candidacy for State Senate, Ann Ravel was kind enough to grant me a two-hour interview where we discussed her experiences in the Santa Clara County legal community. Ann’s story is similar to that of many women lawyers I have interviewed and is a story worth listening to, I hope Ms. Dauber will be able to do that.

    When I learned that Ann had not only endorsed Judge Perksy, but had worked on his campaign with the McManis’ firm, it occurred to me that Ann is similar to most lawyers practicing smack in the middle of Silicon Valley’s Brotopia, where an intoxicating power driven culture that often feels void of compassion and humanity.

    Hopefully Ms. Dauber and Ms. Ravel can recognize that Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen has done more to harm men, women and children in Silicon Valley than any judge could ever do.

    As for the Good Smartian rape victim from San Martin, my sources tell me that Assistant DA Terry Harman and Victim Services Director Kasey Halcon told her a few days after the rape that the system was “broken” and there was little the county could do to help her.

    I am informed that both Ms. Ravel and Ms. Dauber have a direct line to Ms. Harman, and Rene Doe in San Martin. Perhaps these women could come together and get the county’s Victim Services moved under the supervision and management of Sherriff Laurie Smith who had the decency to do what DA Jeff Rosen would not.

    • > I am informed that both Ms. Ravel and Ms. Dauber have a direct line to Ms. Harman, and Rene Doe in San Martin. Perhaps these women could come together and get the county’s Victim Services moved under the supervision and management of Sherriff Laurie Smith who had the decency to do what DA Jeff Rosen would not.

      However bad Jeff Rosen is, why would anyone think that gender tribalism is any better?

    • I fail to see the difference. What you are essentially saying is that women are responsible for their own rape. Care to speculate on whether her clothing was also a contributing factor? Blotto or not, no one (male or female) deserves to be a crime victim. For the sake of crime victims everywhere, do us a favor and please don’t go sitting on any juries. Fortunately, prosecutors can weed your kind out during voir dire.

      • > For the sake of crime victims everywhere, do us a favor and please don’t go sitting on any juries.

        Well, it probably DOESN’T help crime victims, but I have found that you can reliably get thrown off of juries by complaining to the judge that you have no confidence in the judicial systems screening of potential jurors to prevent non-citizens from serving and that you think the District Attorney’s office is, at a minimum, guilty of malfeasance for not assisting in the enforcement of immigration laws.

  6. Ms. Ravel had “no idea” about the pro-Persky campaign rhetoric? Are we to believe she fled to Antarctica for the duration of that recall campaign? Her cluelessness alone is reason for no-one to vote for her to join an already overly clueless State Senate.

  7. 1/4 of the public records produced by Santa Clara County show thousands of emails between the DAO’s Terry Harman, Cindy Hendrickson and Stanford Professors Michele Dauber and Lauren Schoenthaler ( former DDA who ignored Stanford professor charged with raping his own kids in a family case before Judge Folan. We do have McManis to thank for being able to get those records. Does McManis overbill in family court – Abolutely! Does McManis violate the law when using private judges like Catherine Gallagher at JAMS- Absolutely!

    Ann Ravel is associated with UC Berkeley, and has made promises to reject ” Dark Money” in her campaign. Ravel will have to do more than renounce her association with McManis to gain public confidence, and trust from the mothers in her own community.

    Ravel’s relationship with the county lawyers and Stanford needs to be addressed ; Jeff Rosen and Susan Ellenberg’s in particular. Just as Stanford Professor Michele Dauber doesn’t have a monopoly on advocating for victims, Judge Persky didn’t have a monopoly on creating, or ignoring, victims in Santa Clara’s courts:

    Stanford caught in cheating and bribing scandal: https://www.justice.gov/usao-ma/investigations-college-admissions-and-testing-bribery-scheme

    Stanford student commits suicide on campus: https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/03/11/stanford-student-and-world-class-cyclist-dies-at-23-the-hurt-is-unbelievable/

    Mother murdered in Willow Glenn by Mentally ill Homeless Man: https://patch.com/california/campbell/medical-device-manager-stabbed-killed-so-san-jose-identified

    DAO releases mentally ill homeless man who raped San Martin mother: http://www.sanjoseinside.com/2019/02/06/victim-recounts-rape-da-files-charges-suspect-remains-free/

    San Jose Student shot by police. DA clears officers of wrongdoing: https://abc7news.com/sjsu-police-release-body-cam-video-5-years-after-deadly-shooting/5180668/

    Not a man or woman issue. It is a human issue and it is time for Mr. Rosen to go, he has failed to protect and cheated taxpayers for far too long! https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=9&v=2s3JNcShBIE

  8. Ms. Bassi, I totally agree with you. I supported the Persky Recall in ways I have never supported other political causes. I supported this cause since the begging when many thought this was just a crazy movement. I knew it was not. I supported this cause not only for Emily, but for you, for me, and the many mothers and father cheated by this corrupted judiciary system. This is particularly the case for the family court. I also know JEFF ROSEN is the center of this web of corruption. RECALL JEFF ROSEN; VOTE FOR KAMALA! The successful recall of Persky showed others, no corruption is too big to fail. It is good that Ms. Ravel recognizes her mistake. Doing it at the process of running for a higher office makes all her words fishy.

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