Judge At Rapist's Sentencing: 'If Someone Doesn't Want To Have Sexual intercourse, The Body Shuts Down'
A judge in Orange County has been admonished—if, belatedly—for making some outrageous comments during a rapist's sentencing that calls to mind the comment that ended up sinking the senate candidacy of Republican Todd Akin.
At the sentencing hearing for a man convicted of rape in 2008, Superior Court Judge Derek Johnson said that he considered the rape "technical," according to City News Service. He said:
"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. That tells me that the victim in this case, although she wasn't necessarily willing, she didn't put up a fight. 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."
The judge gave the speech as a way to explain why he wanted to sentence the rapist to 6 years in prison, instead of the 16 that the prosecutor requested.
So what was this "technical rape"? Metin Gurel was convicted of rape, forcible oral copulation, domestic battery, stalking and making threats against his live-in girlfriend. On the day of the rape, Gurel threatened to mutiliate the victim's face and vagina with a heated screwdriver, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The OC Weekly had more horrifying details about the case from a story back in 2008:
According to court and police records, Gurel secretly placed a GPS device on a girlfriend’s car in late 2007, added spyware on her home computer, stole a key to her gated apartment complex, made a bomb threat against her and faxed a semi-nude picture of her to her office. After they broke up, he stalked her, phoned incessantly and, in a fit of jealousy, punctured one of her car tires while she was on a date at a South Coast Plaza-area restaurant.
Despite these warning signs, this lady agreed to visit Gurel at his apartment in hopes of convincing him to move on. He had other ideas. When she arrived, he shattered her cell phone with an illegally possessed baton, forbade her from leaving, heated a screwdriver on the and waved it around her body—threatening to maim her face and vagina so that, he stated, no other man would want to date her. He poured a glass of scotch and Coke, grabbed a lighter, and threatened to douse her with the cocktail and ignite her.
After ordering her to strip, Gurel forced her to perform fellatio, raped her repeatedly and ejaculated in her mouth. Later, when he got hungry, he told her to make him breakfast. She eventually escaped. Explaining his post-rape attitude to police, Gurel noted that in his native country’s culture, men control women—even “scare” them into obedience.
The Weekly called out the judge for his comments back when the case was going on, but it apparently took a while for the San Francisco-based Commission on Judicial Performance to get the memo. They said they only heard about the comments in May 2012, the Times reported.
The commission sent out a release publicly admonishing the judge:
"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."
Johnson apologized for the comments, but it will not affect his job (for now). It's not clear whether this would (or could) affect the case in question.
While we're on the topic of technicalities, it's worth pointing out that Johnson is the same judge who legitimized "Seinfeld's" pseudo-holiday "Festivus" in a court order a few years ago. An inmate who wanted to be served kosher meals because they were healthier claimed in court that he had dietary restrictions because of his religion "Festivus" and the judge was A-okay with that.
UPDATE: If you are an Orange County resident hoping to get the chance to vote out a judge like Johnson out for his conduct, you should know that it appears you've already missed one chance since Johnson made those comments in 2008. We checked in with an Orange County Superior Court spokeswoman, who told us that Judge Derek Johnson's six-year term ends on January 4, 2015. If we count backwards, we figure that Johnson was up for reelection in November 2008 just a week after the OC Weekly story detailing his comments hit the stands.
The story notes that in another domestic violence case where a man was accused of punching, kicking, strangling and pointing a loaded handgun at a girlfriend, Johnson called the victim "a dullard" in court. The OC Weekly says that Johnson was actually a former sex-crimes prosecutor.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Johnson has been a judge since 2000.