Judge Derek Johnson Accused Rape Victim of Not ‘Putting Up a Fight:’ Kick Him Off the Bench

Unfortunately, former Congressman Todd Akin isn’t the only person in the world who thinks the female body has magical abilities to prevent rape — as long as the woman isn’t secretly enjoying it.

In 2008, California Superior Court Judge Derek Johnson showed an astonishing lack of understanding of biology, rape, and even the law he was supposed to enforce.

"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,” he said in a ruling on a rape in which the attacker threatened to mutilate his ex-girlfriend and victim’s face and genitals with a hot screwdriver. “That tells me that the victim in this case, although she wasn't necessarily willing, she didn't put up a fight."

Setting aside the completely unfounded idea that the vagina has some bank vault-type mechanism that goes into effect during rape, it’s not relevant whether or not she put up a fight, according to California law. Since 1980, victims of sexual assault have not been required to prove that they physically resisted or were prevented from doing so by threats, the AP reports.

After his offensive bloviation, the judge shaved 10 years off of the proposed sentence and sent the rapist to prison for a measly six years, saying that’s what the case was “worth.”

Now, years later, Judge Johnson has been reprimanded for his comments. The California Commission on Judicial Performance voted 10-0 to impose a public admonishment Thursday, calling Johnson's comments inappropriate and a breach of judicial ethics, according to the AP.

"In the commission's view, the judge's remarks reflected outdated, biased and insensitive views about sexual assault victims who do not 'put up a fight.'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 the commission's chairman, Lawrence J. Simi. But a “public admonishment,” just another way to say “slap on the wrist,” is not nearly enough. Someone with such misguided, plainly inaccurate, and offensive views on rape should not be allowed to preside over future rape cases.

There’s a petition on watchdog.net to have Judge Johnson removed from the bench, and I urge you all to sign it and encourage others to do the same. 

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Lilly O'Donnell

Lilly O'Donnell is a freelance writer, currently working on her first book.

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