Judge Johnson was making the comments in the case of a man who threatened to mutilate the face and genitals of his ex-girlfriend with a heated screwdriver. The man also beat her with a metal baton and made violent threats before committing rape and forcing oral copulation.
His remarks, which echo those of outgoing US representative Todd Akin, who used the phrase ‘legitimate rape’ and said women who are the victims of rape rarely get pregnant, have drawn widespread condemnation.
California’s Commission on Judicial Performance has also attacked the judge for taking ten years off the recommended sentence for the rapist in the case, imposing a six-year sentence instead.
“In the commission’s view, the judge’s remarks reflected outdated, biased and insensitive views about sexual assault victims who do not ‘put up a fight.’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,” wrote Lawrence Simi, the commission’s chairman, of the case which happened in 2008 but only came to light earlier this year.
According to police reports Judge Johnson said: ‘I’m not a gynaecologist, 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.”
The commission said Johnson deserved public admonishment in its decision today.
The judge, who has been with Orange County Superior Court since 2000, also said the rape was ‘technical’ and not ‘a real, live criminal case.’
“To treat this case like the rape cases that we all hear about is an insult to victims of rape,” the judge told the LA Times.
He is also reported to have said: ‘I think it’s an insult. I think it trivialises a rape.’
Judge Johnson has since apologised for his comments.