One of my Moxley Confidential columns resulted this week in a unanimous decision by the California Commission on Judicial Ethics to publicly admonish Orange County Superior Court Judge Derek Johnson for opining that if a victim's vagina hadn't been “shredded” during a sexual assault then the woman gave at least partial consent to her attacker.
I covered the 2008 case of Metin Reza Gurel in Newport Beach and reported that Johnson, a former sex-crimes prosecutor, callously downplayed the defendant's conduct as “a technical rape” even though he repeatedly raped an ex-girlfriend, threatened to maim her face and vagina with a heated screwdriver, told her he was going to burn her to death, ordered forced fellatio and ejaculated in her mouth.
When questioned by police after the crime, Gurel, then a 43-year-old native of Turkey, said that he was allowed in his culture to “scare” women into obedience.
Orange County prosecutors sought a term of 16 years in prison, but Johnson ridiculed the government for calling Gurel's conduct a rape.
“I think it trivializes rape,” said Johnson, who reduced the punishment to six years and deducted the sentence by 251 days in pre-conviction detention credit.
In Johnson's mind, the victim's vagina would have been “shredded” if it had been an actual rape.
“If someone doesn't want to have sexual intercourse, the body shuts down,” the judge said. “The body will not permit that to happen unless a lot of damage is inflicted and we heard nothing about that in this case. That tells me that the victim in this case, although she wasn't necessarily willing, didn't put up a fight.”
My comment at time: “That statement is so outrageous it's reminiscent of the cockamamie theories offered by defense lawyers during the sensational trial for the 2002 Haidl Gang Rape.”
In that case, defense lawyers incredibly argued that if a rapist's penis entered a victim's rectum, that equals oral consent for the sex because otherwise a woman's body would not allow penetration. Those rapists lost that argument and went to prison.
In the Gurel case, the state judicial board stated that Johnson's “remarks reflected outdated, biased and insensitive views about sexual assault victims who do not 'put up a fight.'”
And they added, “Such comments cannot help but diminish public confidence and trust in the impartiality of the judiciary.”
Johnson apologized to the commission.
(rscottmoxley at ocweekly dot com)
R. Scott Moxley’s award-winning investigative journalism has touched nerves for two decades. An angry congressman threatened to break Moxley’s knee caps. A dirty sheriff promised his critical reporting was irrelevant and then landed in prison. The U.S. House of Representatives debated his work. Federal prosecutors credited his stories for the arrest of a doctor who sold fake medicine to dying patients. Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; and hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing Southern California law enforcement corruption.