Surely you remember all of the hubbub about Rep. Todd Akin’s wacky theory on rape and human reproduction. In case you don’t remember what he said this summer, here are his vomitous and uninformed thoughts (or lack thereof) on pregnancy as a result of rape: “[T]hat’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” This, from a man who’s an outgoing member of the House Science and Technology Committee.
If nothing else, his blunder resulted in some great joke fodder — a law student even got to define “legitimate rape” on Urban Dictionary. But alas, it seems that we can no longer credit Todd Akin with being the first to remark on the female anatomy’s amazing (and non-existent) ability to “shut that whole thing down” in the event of rape.
You see, a judge in California said pretty much the same thing in 2008, and though it earned some coverage then, the rest of the media is just now getting its grubby little hands on the details, due to the slowness of the California Commission on Judicial Performance in issuing a disciplinary ruling….
Back in 2008, Judge Derek Johnson was in the process of sentencing a man who had been convicted of “rape, forcible oral copulation, domestic battery, stalking and making threats against his live-in girlfriend.” Judge Johnson declined to impose the prosecutor’s desired 16-year prison term, opting instead for a six-year sentence.
But why? Because in his opinion, this was only a “technical” rape because the victim “didn’t put up a fight.” You know, not like one of those super duper rapey-rapes. Or not “a real live criminal case,” as Judge Johnson noted in court. In fact, in the judge’s opinion, this was “more of a crim law test,” so law students, if you’re still preparing for your exam, please take note: if the victim didn’t try to run away screaming and take to the presses to cry “rape rape rape rape!” all the way home, it wasn’t a real rape. Got it? Good.
And here’s Judge Johnson’s money quote from his time on the bench at this sentencing hearing:
“I’m not a gynecologist, but I can tell you something: If someone doesn’t want to have sexual intercourse, the body shuts down. The body will not permit that to happen unless a lot of damage is inflicted, and we heard nothing about that in this case.”
You hear that? Apparently women are like HAL 9000 in that if you try to rape them, they’ll slowly murmur in a robotic voice, “I’m sorry, Dave, I’m afraid I can’t let you do that.” You’re damn right you’re not a gynecologist.
Meanwhile, according to the Los Angeles Times, the California Commission on Judicial Performance (CCJP) claims it didn’t learn about Judge Johnson’s 2008 comments until this past May. And while the Commission took its sweet time to learn about these ridiculous remarks, it acted relatively “quickly” in handing down a public admonishment — quickly in that it took less than a year to issue its reprimand, that is:
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.” Such comments cannot help but diminish public confidence and trust in the impartiality of the judiciary. At a minimum, the judge’s conduct constituted improper action.
Judge Johnson has since apologized, but we’re hoping that he’s since adjusted his old-timey views on “technical rape” versus “how loudly do I have to scream and fight for this to be actual rape?” rape. Oh, and by the way, judge, California law doesn’t require proof that the victim resisted her attacker. HTFH.
(If you’d like to see the CCJP’s public reprimand of Judge Derek Johnson, it’s available on the next page.)