Updated June 6, 2018, 10:20 a.m.
Santa Clara County voters on Tuesday recalled a judge from office after he sentenced former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner -- convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman -- to a short jail sentence instead of prison.
With 97 percent of precincts reporting, nearly 60 percent of voters opted to oust Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky.
Stanford law professor Michele Dauber launched the recall effort in June 2016, shortly after Persky sentenced Turner to six months in jail for sexually assaulting a young woman outside a fraternity house on campus. Prosecutors argued for a 7-year prison sentence.
"Many voters voted today against impunity for high-status perpetrators of sexual assault and domestic violence, and voted that sexual violence is serious and has to be taken seriously by our elected officials," Dauber said.
Turner was released from jail for good behavior after serving three months. He is required to register for life as a sex offender.
The judge was following a recommendation from the county probation department, and the California Commission on Judicial Performance ruled that he handled the case legally. Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen didn't appeal the sentence. Rosen also opposed the recall, though he said the sentence was too lenient.
"There is a heightened awareness in the courts and among practitioners that if judges do not give lengthier sentences then they will be punished and potentially someone might lead a movement to remove that person," said Santa Clara University Professor Margaret Russell who co-founded the "No Recall" campaign.
The recall was the first in nearly 90 years for a sitting California judge.
Julie Duffield, 60, voted against recalling Persky, saying people should not take out their anger over Turner's sentence on the judge.
"I have two boys. I'm very much a feminist. I just don't think it's a solution," she said outside City Hall in Palo Alto, where she dropped off her mail-in ballot.
Brendan Erickson, 25, said he understood the argument that removing Persky could set a bad precedent, but said the judge made "an incredibly poor decision." He voted to recall Persky.
"I have two little sisters, and I want them to feel safe," Erickson said.
The case garnered international attention after BuzzFeed published the eloquent statement of the victim, known as Emily Doe, read before Turner was sentenced. The Associated Press doesn't generally identify victims of sexual crimes.
"You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today," she read.
She also recounted the ordeal of the investigation and Turner's trial, where she was cross-examined about her drinking habits and sexual experience.
"Instead of taking time to heal, I was taking time to recall the night in excruciating detail, in order to prepare for the attorney's questions that would be invasive, aggressive, and designed to steer me off course, to contradict myself, my sister, phrased in ways to manipulate my answers," she read.
The election was viewed as one of the first electoral tests of the #MeToo movement's political clout.
Critics complained that Persky's sentence was too lenient and discounted sexual assault, while also underscoring the inequity of the criminal justice system. Turner, a white male from an upper middle-class neighborhood, was represented by an attorney his family hired rather than a court-appointed public defender.
Citing judicial ethics, Persky has declined to discuss the case in detail because Turner has appealed. But Persky told The Associated Press in an interview that he has no regrets over how he handled the case or his courtroom. Persky declined comment when reached by phone late Tuesday.
Santa Clara County Assistant District Attorney Cindy Seeley Hendrickson won the race to replace Persky after garnering 69 percent of the vote.
Associated Press writer Jocelyn Gecker contributed to this report from Palo Alto. KQED's Shia Levitt contributed to this report.