Moral Low Ground

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‘Legitimate Rape’ Redux: California Judge Derek G. Johnson Said Women’s Bodies “Shut Down” During Real Rape

derek g. johnson rapeA California judge has raised eyebrows and ire by claiming that a woman’s body shuts down if she is really being raped.

California Superior Court Judge Derek G. Johnson of Orange County made his controversial– and baseless– remarks during the 2008 trial of Metin Reza Gurel, a Turkish citizen accused of raping his girlfriend after stalking her with a GPS device, threatening to bomb her, faxing nude photos of her to her workplace and threatening to burn her. He then forced her to perform oral sex on him.

But it was Gurel’s victim who found herself feeling like she was on trial after Judge Johnson questioned whether or not her rape was ‘legitimate.’

“I’m not a gynecologist, but I can tell you something: If someone doesn’t want to have sexual intercourse, the body shuts down,” Johnson said, according to the California Commission on Judicial Performance. “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, she didn’t put up a fight,” he added. “And to treat this case like the rape cases that we all hear about is an insult to victims of rape. I think it’s an insult. I think it trivializes a rape. I found this whole case to be a technical case. The rape is technical. The forced oral copulation is technical. It’s more of a criminal law test than a real live criminal case.”

OC Weekly first reported Judge Johnson’s shocking remarks in 2008, but the Commission on Judicial Performance only got around to dealing with the situation this year.

“In the commission’s view, the judge’s remarks reflected outdated, biased and insensitive views about sexual assault victims who do not ‘put up a fight,’” the commission’s statement said. “Such comments cannot help but diminish public confidence and trust in the impartiality of the judiciary. In his response to the commission and at his appearance, Judge Johnson conceded his comments were inappropriate and apologized.”

Judge Johnson’s ludicrous comments are very similar to those made by Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), a staunch abortion foe who said in August that women don’t get pregnant from “legitimate rape.”

“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Rep. Akin said when asked it he would allow women who have been raped to have abortions. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”

Rep. Akin’s shocking comments are widely attributed to his election day loss to Democratic opponent Claire McCaskill.

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