Kianerci: Will the real Sajid Khan please stand up?
Public defender and DA candidate Sajid Khan rallies with residents in front of the county jail on Aug. 27, 2021 in this file photo.

As a career prosecutor, I have seen many people change their stories. Usually, I see it in court. Career public defender Sajid Khan, who is running for DA, is changing his story by deleting many of his personal blog posts. What these recovered posts reveal, in my personal opinion, is that Sajid is unfit to be district attorney.

I am the prosecutor who in 2016 tried People v. Brock Turner, the Stanford swimmer convicted of sexual assault. My parents fled Iran in the late 1970s because they believed in justice, human rights and equality for women. Because I share those beliefs, I became a prosecutor to fight for victims, many of whom are women. I have spent over 13 years seeking justice for victims.

Sajid Khan has spent those years defending criminals. As a public defender it is his duty to advocate for his client, not to seek the truth. As such, he does not know how to seek justice for victims, and he is therefore unfit to be the district attorney in Santa Clara County. I have had cases against Sajid, and I know the truth, so I cannot sit by silently while he tries to mislead the public.

Prior to declaring his candidacy, Sajid deleted many of his personal blog posts, including one defending Brock Turner. Sajid believed Turner was treated too harshly. He defended the lenient sentence and claimed the lack of empathy for Turner was “astounding.”

What is astounding is Sajid’s lack of empathy for survivor Chanel Miller, whom he has never acknowledged.

Last October, Sajid attended a #metoo rally at a local high school, presumably to wipe away his past stance. Soon afterward, a student questioned why Sajid would pretend to walk with survivors when he had so staunchly defended Turner.

Sajid changed his story by writing another post “apologizing” for what he previously wrote. Now he claims to stand with survivors. This political apology fails to explain why he believed the 90-day sentence for rape was reasonable and it demonstrates his inability to hold sexual offenders accountable.

In his pseudo-apology he also accuses prosecutors of “using survivors as a means to win convictions rather than to secure justice and healing.” This offensive characterization of a victim’s role in the process completely ignores the agency the justice system affords victims. It is also oblivious to the critical role a public condemnation of abuse plays in a survivor’s healing process.

After the Turner sentence, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office helped draft and sponsored a bill to ensure the next Brock Turner would not get a slap on the wrist. I testified in support of this bill.

Recently the Santa Clara County DA’s Office helped draft and sponsor another bill to increase punishment for spousal rape. Both of these long overdue laws passed easily. Now these offenses, just like other types of rape, require a mandatory minimum sentence of three years in prison. Sajid was against making the punishment for rape consistent (scroll down to the May 25, 2018 post).

In fact, Sajid is against all mandatory minimum sentences, even for the most heinous crimes. For example, in the 2016 case of People v. Singh/Sekhon, Sajid’s client was convicted of kidnap and gang rape and after the sentence Sajid attacked the lengthy prison term in a deleted blog post (scroll down to the Nov. 11, 2017 post). Again, he failed to acknowledge the life long trauma his client inflicted on the survivor.

Instead in the deleted post Sajid stated, “We must start by fighting the primal urge to lock up violent and sex offenders for life terms and the pervasive instinct to impose the mandatory minimum prison terms for the most serious crimes. We have to start at the top with crimes like murder and sexual assault; when we peel back commonly accepted notions of justice… for the ugliest crimes, the shift in mindset will trickle down and impact how we respond to lower level crimes like drug offenses, vehicle code violations, theft and vandalism.”

Sajid’s inability to distinguish murders and rapists from low level criminals is exactly why he is unfit to be DA.

In another deleted blog post, Sajid celebrated the parole of OJ Simpson because according to him “we don’t need to incarcerate the elderly anymore” and “OJ didn’t have a criminal history.” He also wrote a deleted blog post about NFL player Ray Rice who brutally beat his fiancée in public. Sajid “wished (Rice) didn’t lose his job,” because “we all have skeletons.” Even the NFL changed its policy on domestic violence after watching the horrific footage.

If wife beaters, rapists and murderers don’t deserve prison terms, then who does?

Even worse, Sajid deleted another post (scroll down to the Nov. 10, 2011 post) defending Penn State Coach Joe Paterno, who infamously protected serial child rapist Jerry Sandusky. In the deleted post Sajid stated, “Joe Pa did more than I and most people would have done in his position,” showing he has consistently ignored victims. That is what you can expect if he’s elected DA.

Prior to declaring his candidacy, Sajid rarely acknowledged or showed compassion for victims and their plight in his now deleted posts. Rather, his focus has been on glorifying his role as a defense attorney and only seeing things through the eyes of defendants. So how is it that all of a sudden he now stands for victims?

Of course, the criminal justice system would benefit from thoughtful reform. That reform must strike a balance between rehabilitation and accountability, always keeping at the forefront public safety. Sajid’s extreme positions would undo the progress made for victims of sexual assault and would make our community less safe for women.

Sajid Khan is changing his story. He can’t delete away the truth. At his core, as evidenced by his deleted blog posts, Sajid will not hold violent criminals accountable. He does not prioritize victims and he is not qualified for the job he seeks. The voters deserve better.

Alaleh Kianerci is a prosecutor in Santa Clara County of 13.5 years. She is on maternity leave and writing in her personal capacity, not as a representative of the county. In 2016 she successfully prosecuted the People v. Brock Turner and has since spoken out on issues of women’s rights. She has endorsed and contributed to incumbent DA candidate Jeff Rosen.

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