Lynbrook High School Faces Backlash for Hiring Ex-Judge Aaron Persky as Tennis Coach

UPDATE: Lynbrook High gave Aaron Persky the axe on Wednesday. In a statement to reporters, Persky said he was fired at 2pm from his part-time job as junior varsity girls tennis coach, and that Fremont Union Superintendent Polly Bove told him the decision was “motivated by a desire to protect the players from the potentially intrusive media attention related to my hiring.” He added: “Although I am disappointed in with the district’s decision, it was a privilege to coach the team, if only for a short time. I wish all of the players the best in their future academic and athletic endeavors.”

When San Jose’s Lynbrook High hired Michael Aaron Persky as its junior varsity girls’ tennis coach, school officials say they had no idea he was the Aaron Persky.

But they found out the hard way: from angry parents who demanded his resignation because of a controversial sentence he handed down three years ago as a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge.

In 2016, Persky ordered ex-Stanford swimmer Brock Turner to serve a six-month jail stay for sexually assaulting a blacked-out woman after a campus party. Turner served half that time, igniting a firestorm of outrage against both convict and the judge. That outrage fueled a recall campaign that led to Persky’s ouster from the bench last fall.

A host of parents voiced their anger about the hire online.

Persky lost more than his job—he lost his good standing in the community. And now, his fledgling career as a tennis coach is on the line.

School officials who hired him say the backlash, which manifest in a couple Change.org petitions (here and here), took them off guard.

“We weren’t aware of who we hired until last week,” Fremont Union High School District Superintendent Polly Bove says. “He applied as Michael Persky. If you were to Google Michael Persky, you would find that he was a physician that does plastic surgery.”

Indeed, there is another Michael A. Persky—a cosmetic surgeon in Encino.

According to school officials, that’s the name they saw on the ex-jurist’s coaching application: Michael Persky. He used his full name, Michael Aaron Persky, in his resume. Officials say his application didn’t raise any red flags; they conducted a thorough background check. And since Persky has attended tennis coaching clinics for youth and boasts a high rating from the United States Tennis Association, he was—it seemed, at least, objectively—a well-qualified applicant.

Everything had checked out. Until, that is, people recognized him as not the plastic surgeon but the notorious ex-judge. “It came to our attention just a few weeks ago that he was, indeed, the Aaron Persky,” Bove says.

So, she says, the school held a conference with students and parents as some members of the community expressed outrage in local news outlets and on social media. The realization roughly coincided with Turner’s victim—who was previously known to the public as Emily Doe—finally revealing her identity as Chanel Miller, author of a soon-to-launch memoir about her ordeal.

“It’s absurd that he would be hired in a position to be a leader of girls,” a teacher in the district, who asked to withhold her name, tells San Jose Inside. “A coach is a mandated reporter. And I wonder whether a girl would feel comfortable reporting to him if she had been assaulted in any way at school or otherwise?”

Bove then called that teacher, telling her that she cannot attend a meeting convened to address parent concerns, which was invitation-only. A San Jose Inside reporter tried to sit on the discussion, but was kicked out.

Persky declined an invitation to share his thoughts on the brouhaha for this story. Instead, retired judge LaDoris Cordell, who defended Persky throughout the recall and ever since, volunteered to speak on his behalf.

In a phone interview, Cordell bats away criticisms of Persky as overblown. She also echoes sentiments about him that she voiced during the recall effort: that anger over Turner’s sentence unfairly personalized the problem, making it all about one decision by an otherwise fair and respected judge. Finally, she asks, hasn’t he lost enough already?

“He has lost his job and his pension,” she says. “People need to remember: this was a judge for 13 years with a stellar reputation, [who also served as] a prosecutor for seven years. I will tell you, as a judge who was on the bench for almost 20 years in Santa Clara County, presiding mostly over criminal cases, that no reasonable and rational judge would ever have sentenced Brock Turner to prison. The most judge Persky could have given him [in] jail time is 12 months. So he gave him six months.” (Note: the statutory maximum was actually 14 years).

Then there’s the fact that Persky’s tennis team won 5-2 in their first match of the season, according to Cordell, who says that proves his talent as a coach too.

On Cordell’s point about Persky’s professional record, however, Jennie Richardson, one of the most prominent voices in the recall effort, begs to differ. And, she says, so do all the voters who booted Persky from the bench in a 62-38 vote last fall, making him the first California judge to lose the position by recall in more than eight decades.

But this isn’t just about the recall, she says. It’s about the public’s broken trust in Persky.

“The county overwhelmingly agreed that he does not see these issues clearly,” Richardson says, “so it's incredibly inappropriate for him to be responsible for young girls.”

A group of parents at Lynbrook were angered to find out the identity of their new tennis coach. (Photo by Nicholas Chan)

Nicholas Chan is a journalist who covers politics, culture and current events in Silicon Valley. Follow him on Twitter at @nicholaschanhk.

46 Comments

  1. > “It’s absurd that he would be hired in a position to be a leader of girls,” a teacher in the district, who asked to withhold her name, tells San Jose Inside. “A coach is a mandated reporter. And I wonder whether a girl would feel comfortable reporting to him if she had been assaulted in any way at school or otherwise?”

    Persky was recalled from his job as a judge. He was NOT convicted of anything.

    Specifically, he was not charged, tried, or convicted of any sex crime, or anything that would call into question his competency to be a “mandated reporter”.

    This is a political witch hunt on steroids. And it is employment blacklisting.

    Persky needs to hire the biggest, meanest attack dog libel lawyer money can buy and and tear into the conspiracy of defamation that drives the unnamed “teacher” and the other people and institutions that are participating in the Persky character assassination.

    • Hi,

      Not sure where politics come into this. A judge who gives a light sentence to a rapist because they have high aspirations as a swimmer is not an impartial jurist. The crime here was rape, and he gave 6 months of jail time which he subsequently reduced to 3 due to good behavior. The parents of the school district and the tax payers in this community should not have to put their kids into an environment where they feel there may be a sex offender sympathizer. No one is saying the judge is convicted of anything, but it’s clear his priorities are not to take a meaningful stance against rape culture.

    • Judge Persky jailed me for 11 additional days to the amount of time I had already served for “Contact with ____ ” was not during visitation….after all of us had “knowledge of the orders” but as an FYI the boys were already old enough to stand up for themselves. So MAYBE you really don’t know who this judge was/is. In addition, and more importantly he was a judge for Alycia Mesiti. The beautiful young woman whose Mom was ordered not to have visitation with her son and daughter. The father moved both children out of Santa Clara County, sent the son away and then proceeded to drug, rape, video tape her his friends, eventually killing her and burying her body in his backyard but Judge Persky had already forgotten about Alycia have gotten rid of the mother for “conflict resolution”. If nothing else this judge is not someone who should be teaching young women at Lynnbrook about being responsible and caring adults

  2. I strongly supported the recall and still do. I feel Cordell is one of the worst supporters one can have. She always focuses on Persky’s Stellar career as a way to support him. People really do not care who you are or how much you know unless they know how much you care. I am also a supporter of rehabilitation after people have paid their deeds with society. I feel Persky has paid his deed to society. I also feel working with girls may help him build emphatic for females. For this, I support his hiring. The school could hire an assistant female coach to be part of this group. It is also true almost any mother can see in Chanel Miller their own daughters. I know I do. Persky has children too. They are not responsible for his decisions. Let’s never give sexual predators a break, but let’s work on prevention of these crimes via rehabilitation and reintegration to society and the workplace.

    • > Let’s never give sexual predators a break, but let’s work on prevention of these crimes via rehabilitation and reintegration to society and the workplace.

      Persky is NOT a sexual predator.

      Add your name to the list of libel defendants.

      • I am talking about the sexual predators. You are implying I was talking about Persky. Check your own biases.

        • > I am talking about the sexual predators. You are implying I was talking about Persky.

          FEXXY:

          Let’s look at the lede for this thread:

          “Lynbrook High School Faces Backlash for Hiring Ex-Judge Aaron Persky as Tennis Coach”

          Well, surprise! It’s about . . . . Aaron Persky.

          • I am responsible for my comment. I said I support his hiring as a way to help him build empathy for females. I am also a supporter for the rehabilitation, integration to society and workforce for offenders. That is my take. Do not put words in my mouth.

    • I’m a woman, a feminist and a lawyer. The judge gave a sentence in line with probation dept. recommendations. It is valid to complain it was too lenient as a result of probable unconscious bias in favor of a young affluent white man. Valid to recall him since it’s a democracy and Superior Court judges are elected. But I don’t think it’s right to act like the exjudge is himself the same threat to women as an actual sex offender (!!) or ruin his life over it.

  3. The judge got recalled because he didn’t give a big enough sentence to somebody. Ok done. Now you want to keep going after the guy so he can never work again. These people aren’t much better then the dictator that kills you plus your family. Really a shame.
    On another note the JV Tennis team has there own coach? Dang.

    • I don’t think it’s that people believe he should never work again…. it’s that his job specifically places him in a mentor position for young girls, who the community does not trust him to protect. Had he pursued a job as a realtor, or a salesman, or any number of careers that did not place him in charge of a group of young women, i’m sure nobody would have cared.

      Obviously the man needs to provide for his family and needs to work… but I’d not want him coaching my daughter (if I had one)

  4. Does anyone else find it odd that Persky is seemingly abandoning a successful legal career in private practice and as as a prosecutor. Graduated from top schools (Berkeley & Stanford) and recognized for his pro bono work by the state bar association too – see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron_Persky

    The average HS tennis coach salary in SJ is $50,860. Persky ordered to pay almost $162K for failed suit against recall campaign.

    I supported his recall. Not out of any particular animus, but important for elected officials to be reminded what matters to the electorate.

    On balance believe he should find other employment than the public sector. The optics are poor and believe detrimental to the school and students. Why risk grandstand or PTA meeting signage proclaiming “RAPIST JUDGE COACH” or similar sentiments?

    Separately, the legality of kicking out a reporter from the school meeting warrants followup.

    • A JV tennis coach is not a full-time position. This is barely a step above volunteering. He is making $2100 for the season. The average tennis coach in a high school is a high school teacher. They aren’t paid a full salary for coaching. It’s a stipend.

      • Thanks. I see he’s been terminated. The source of the $50,860 was online and didn’t list ofter qualifications such as teaching, nor did the article specify full or part-time.

        Contrary to Cordell’s claim, Persky did not “loose his pension”. I don’t believe he was fully vested for the 20 year minimum. However there may be “bridging” that consolidates different types of government employment and very well may be eligible for a full pension in a couple of years.

        No different than thousands of private sector employees that get laid off with partial vesting. They still get a partial pension if minimum employment period satisfied. I believe his health care is fully covered after 8 years with SCC. Regardless, he made the decision to leave. Agree with FEXXNIST about Cordell – truly awful.

      • Any job is honorable. I am certain this experience will allow him to be more understandable of the struggles of regular people. He is too young to just be at home and has children to support. I can relate to him at that level.

  5. It’s kind of repulsive this school didn’t do its due diligence. They “didn’t know this was The Aaron Persky”? Soooo, no background checks?? I too wondered why he didn’t continue to pursue law. More than likely noone would hire him and he has a “friend” at the education department.

    • I’m sure they did do a background check, the purpose of which is to find out if the person has any criminal background, which he doesn’t.

  6. Apparently it is a slow news day.

    Here is the fly’s train of thought in the news room:

    Ok let’s see, what can we write about today…open notebook….

    – Casserta – nah, nothing going on. He threw his trash in his own dumpster today.
    – Sheriff’s office – oh, boss says she made her PR payment this month so don’t need to make any stories. ok lay off this.
    – Evil CEQA slowing development – nah nothing goin
    – Persky – ding ding ding this hasn’t been done in a while

    And here we are.

  7. No way are you allowed to be involved with minors, much less GIRLS, when you pass out a “gosh, that was a bad choice” sentence as a JUDGE! Thank goodness for the intelligence of the students of Lynbrook High School to start a petition to be concerned for their own safety. A judge that doesn’t see RAPE as that big of a deal, has no place in the public realm, much less involved with minor girls. Good Lord.

    • And by the way, POLLY BOVE! What rock were you under when this trial was under way? You should be ashamed of yourself.

  8. I was one of the 12 jurors who convicted Brock Turner, a faminist, a mom and a professional. I was very disappointed of judge Persky’s sentencing for all the reasons which are now well known to the world. But judge Persky is NOT a criminal, NOT a sex offender – Brock Turner is!

    Although I never got to speak to Judge Persky (was only spoken to by him when he explained, announced and made decisions in court), I always respected him as a person, a gentleman with a kind heart and integrity. During my very first court experience as a juror for 2.5 weeks, this very judge showed me how the judiciary system works with patience, professionalism, decency, grace and style.

    I voted no to the recall. The independence of our judiciary system shall not be impacted by social media. I feel really sorry that he lost his tenure.

    Anyone who is against giving him any chance to serve the society again, please put yourself into his shoes: does he deserve a 2nd chance to live, to contribute, to support his family?! Aren’t we all flawed? Have we ever made any mistake in life and be forgiven? Who can claim he/she is perfect? Who gives us the rights to hide behind a screen/keyboard and push a person who we don’t know to despair, to deprive a person like you and me the rights to work, to live, the basic human rights?!!

    Don’t do unto others what you don’t want done unto you. Be kind and nice to your fellow human being. Leave judge Persky alone!

    Judge Persky, I wish you well. Hang in there! You are not alone!

    • By all accounts, Persky was a respected jurist. My attorney opposed his recall. With the benefit of 20-20 hindsight, Persky could have prevented or mitigated the backlash by emphasizing his limitations under sentencing rules. And could have advocated change. He still can, but evidently chooses to remain silent.

      Filing the suit against Dauber was dumb. It cast her as a victim, its legal theory was shaky, and cost him $162K.

      From my perspective, the overall outcome is sad. The only “winner” seems to be Stanford law professor Dauber. She’s a piece of work – see https://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/brock-turner-michele-dauber/

      But AFAIK, nothing else has changed beyond Ms. Dauber’s elevated celebrity. Other Brock Turners that fly under the radar evidently continue to get wrist-slap recommendations from DA Rosen and OKed by judges with limited options.

      I voted to recall Persky and would do so again. Voting is one of the few options we have to express dissatisfaction with a system that seems broken, opaque, and unaccountable.

      • Judicial ethics prevent judges from commenting publicly on a case, outside of the courtroom. He has completely and totally refrained from defending himself in honor of his duty of judicial ethics. That says a lot about the man.

          • The California Code of Judicial Ethics specifically prohibits California state judges from commenting on pending or “impending” cases (an “impending” case is a case that is imminent or expected). I believe Brock Turner appealed his conviction, and as long as the appeal is or was pending, the Judge Persky could not comment on the case. I am not sure of the status of the appeal but it might not be completely over. Also, even though there is no express prohibition on commenting on a case when it is no longer pending (i.e. all appeals and appeal periods have been exhausted) many judges (especially criminal court judges) interpret the general rules of impartiality and integrity to mean that they should never make public comments about cases that have come before them.

            Federal judges are subject to the Code of Conduct for United States Judges which specifically allows judges to comment on cases after the appeal period.

    • Please don’t listen to Judge John Roberts telling all of us last Thanksgiving to be thankful for “Judicial Independence”. It simply doesn’t exist in family and dependency courts. Judge Persky was ultimately one of the one’s responsible for Alycia Mesiti. This beautiful young lady who was drugged, raped, videotaped, killed and buried in her father’s backyard after the mother was eliminated from her life on the basis of AFCC members’ (Association of Family and Conciliation Courts) testimony that she was the “conflict” maker. God bless her as she tries to continue to survive. Judicial Independence doesn’t exist when witnesses (including probation officers) decide sentencing for judges. It certainly didn’t exist in the Brock Turner case where representations of “We the People” in the form of a jury said felonies and the probation officer said leniencies. The judges defer to colluding self serving AFCC members in family and dependency courts and probation officers in criminal court. If parents and victims can’t confront these so called “expert” witnesses than there is no Due Process Rights and/or “Judicial Independence”. What Country Is This Anyways?

  9. This isn’t really a comment on Persky’s hiring (or firing) at Lynbrook, but I’ve noticed that most stories associated with his recall say that this is the first judicial recall by Californians since 1932.

    Does the statewide 1986 recall of Chief Justice Rose Bird not count?

    • Thank you for fact checking.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rose_Bird “Rose Bird was pilloried because she generally voted to find some defect in death penalty convictions and to reverse them. I probably don’t like the death penalty any more than she does. As a matter of fact, I think the death penalty is wrong, that a person has no right to kill, and the state has no right to kill. But the difference is that I took an oath to support the law as it is and not as I might prefer it to be, and therefore, I’ve written my share of opinions upholding capital judgments”

  10. Just how many Aaron Perskys did the school think there were in California? The fact that he listed his judicial experience on his application should have alerted school officials. How many Perskys did they think were in California? The recall campaign was big news in SC County. Do the HR people in the district live under a rock? What a lame excuse.
    More relevant and material is the fact that the ex-judge consciously hid his identity on his application by using his first name and middle initial, rather than his full middle name, showing a clear intent to deceive.

  11. Most relevant facts are that Judge Persky sent me to jail for not locking my boys out of my house when they visited me against a family court order. Most importantly, Judge Persky was on the Alycia Mesiti case where they cut the Mom out of her children’s lives leaving the Dad free to send his son away and then drug rape video and kill his daughter burying her body in his own backyard and claiming she had run away. Maybe, the Lynnbrook parents are correct and Judge Persky should stick with boy’s tennis

  12. > I am also a supporter for the rehabilitation, integration to society and workforce for offenders.

    Judge Persky doesn’t need any “rehabilitation, integration to society and workforce for offenders”. He didn’t do anything wrong.

    Your comments are STILL libelous. You are suggesting that HE DID DO SOMETHING wrong.

    Your words. I didn’t put them in your mouth.

    • The Alycia Mesiti and other cases are real. He indeed left lots of sh!t behind him. The victims will continue to speak. It is time to bring down corrupted judges, law enforcement, and other corrupted people in the county. It is our time to speak. This county has a history and a memory @SCCMeToo

  13. It’s a sad, ugly state of society when we, in the alleged name of progressivism, public safety and countering rape culture while also purportedly fighting for criminal justice reform, villainize and outcast a thoughtful, respectable judge who showed mercy, saw the humanity of the criminally convicted, honored and recognized victim impact and trauma, stood up against the gears of the mass incarceration machine and withstood the archaic, outdated trope of jail equaling justice.

    How irrational, misguided, misinformed, vengeful and violent have we become that Judge Persky not only gets recalled and removed from the bench but can’t even serve his community as a high school tennis coach?

    I’m upset for Judge Persky and dispirited for all of us that this is who we’ve become or have always been.

    • Sorry Sajid, when it is our children who are raped, separated from their loving parents, placed with sexually abusing parents, so on and on, we won’t forget. WE WILL FIGHT IT; whoever it takes. No respect for VIP titles!

  14. The harassment of Judge Persky bears a lot of similarity to the notorious Sam Sheppard case:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Sheppard

    > The U.S. Supreme Court determined that the “carnival atmosphere” surrounding Sheppard’s first trial had made due process impossible; after ten years in prison he was acquitted at a second trial.

    The lunatics among us who have no appreciation for “rule of law” and “due process” are FAR, FAR scarier and much more of a threat to civilization than “climate change”.

    • The rapists who are part of sexually predatory webs where our children are commercially sexually exploited to satisfy the lustrous behavior are FAR FAR MORE DANGEROUS THAN GLOBAL WARMING! After all, we cares about preserving a planet if we are not preserving the physical and mental health of humans. Protecting our children, seniors, and those living with disabilities is our main and united goal. Those with ears listen, this is our lifetime battle. WE MUST COMMIT TO BEING THE CHANGE WE WANT TO SEE IN THIS WORLD! We must commit to leaving our children and grandchildren children a better place than the one we have today. It takes a village to raise a child. This is our village SANTA CLARA COUNTY RESIDENTS. Not only those who raped and abused have to be accountable. Those that justify and excuse them must be accountable too! SPEAK UP AND END THE SILENCE! In God we trust forever. Shalom

  15. > The rapists who are part of sexually predatory webs where our children are commercially sexually exploited to satisfy the lustrous behavior are FAR FAR MORE DANGEROUS THAN GLOBAL WARMING!

    Aaron Persky is not a rapist, and there’s no evidence that he has EVER raped anyone.

  16. He fostered the behaviors of those rapist, pedophiles, and domestic abusers by not only giving them ridiculously light sentences but also by giving custody to pedophiles and domestic abuser fathers. His gender bias favoring and excusing males at the expense of women and children wellbeing is well documented.

    • > His gender bias favoring and excusing males at the expense of women and children wellbeing is well documented.

      Oh, really?

      Are the documents truthful?

      Provide your BEST document.

      Let’s see how “truthful” and “well documented” YOUR gender bias is.

  17. You can go to the court and find public information of cases. It is called research of public data. I have first Gad knowledge of few cases he was the judge. The pattern is there.

    • > You can go to the court and find public information of cases.

      Well I suppose I could go to the court to prove your claims.

      But since they’re YOUR claims, I will rely on YOU to prove them.

  18. San Jose Inside and the whole Metro organization should be ashamed of themselves. Let the Judge work!

    I’m 2008 I was twice arrested and convicted of a misdemeanor for network intrusion and a misdemeanor for battery (on a city employee).
    The network intrusion charge took me years to put behind as I was not able to gain employment in tech.

    For the battery conviction, I knew I wasn’t able to gai employment working directly with youth as a tutor. It wasn’t until a retired professional baseball player for the SF Giants organization gave me a second chance and hired me to coach youth baseball. That summer I wrote two grants which were funded by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office Asset and Forfeiture Fund which paid for my salary.

    Candidates for elected office took a chance on me after opening up to them about my criminal background. From there my consulting firm launched with The hell of a retired SJPD Officer, an active duty detective, a deputy county director, a school board candidate, a deputy district attorney, a research attorney, a father, a medical doctor, a human rights lawyer, a non profit, the County Democrats, a former State Assemblymenber runbjng for Senate, young Democrats, a Union, and the Labor Movement.

    Let the Judge live his life. Imagine the souls Father Mateo protected until the end of his life. They now rest with him peacefully. Imagine the lives the Judge sentenced, not the victims who were already represented by the prosecution. Those lives are have now gone through corrections, rehabilitation and re entry.

    They didn’t have Dan calling at their homes wanting To help. But Father Mateo sure as hell protected his newspaper.

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