US judge: 'If she didn’t want sex her body would have shut down'
Comments from California judge set to cause new storm over attitudes to rape in the US
A FRESH furore over attitudes towards rape in America looks set to erupt after it emerged that a Californian judge questioned a rape victim's account of her ordeal, saying: "If she didn’t want sex, her body should have just shut down".
Orange County Superior Court Judge Derek G Johnson was sentencing Metin Gurel, who was convicted of rape, domestic battery, stalking and making threats against his former live-in girlfriend, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Johnson decided to impose a six-year sentence instead of the 16-year stretch recommended by prosecutors. "I'm not a gynaecologist, but I can tell you something," 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, although she wasn’t necessarily willing, she didn’t put up a fight."
The issue of rape became a big issue in the run-up to November’s US elections. Representative Todd Akin used the phrase "legitimate rape", while Republican Richard Mourdock said pregnancy from rape can be "something that God intended to happen".
Now Judge Johnson has been admonished by the Commission on Judicial Performance for the remarks which he made at the trial in 2008, but which were only drawn to the Commission’s attention in May this year.
"In the commission’s view, the judge’s remarks reflected outdated, biased and insensitive views," the Commission said. It ruled Johnson's view was his opinion, not the law.
In an apology, Johnson admitted his comments were inappropriate. He said his words were the result of his frustration during an argument with a prosecutor over the defendant’s sentence.
Johnson remains a working judge and, despite the Commission’s admonishment, he has not been asked to step down.