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Updated Friday, December 14, 2012 at 06:35 AM

California judge admonished for remarks on rape

By Christopher Goffard
Los Angeles Times

A longtime Orange County, Calif., judge who said that a rape victim “didn’t put up a fight” and that her sexual assault was only “technical” has been admonished by a state agency that said his remarks seemed outdated, insensitive and possibly biased.

The Commission on Judicial Performance said Superior Court Judge Derek Johnson’s comments breached judicial ethics.

At a sentencing in 2008, Johnson denied a prosecutor’s call to impose a 16-year prison term on Metin Gurel, who had been convicted of rape, forcible oral copulation, domestic battery, stalking and making threats against his former live-in girlfriend.

Johnson instead imposed a six-year sentence.

Gurel had threatened to mutilate the face and genitals of the former girlfriend with a heated screwdriver, beat her with a metal baton and made other violent threats before attacking her.

Though the woman reported the criminal threats the next day, she did not report the rape until 17 days later.

Johnson, a former prosecutor in the Orange County district attorney’s sex-crimes unit, said during Gurel’s sentencing that he had seen violent cases on that unit in which women’s genitals were “shredded” by rape.

“I’m not a gynecologist, but I can tell you something,” the judge said, according to documents released Thursday.

“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 judge, who has been on the Orange County Superior Court since 2000, also said the rape was “technical,” and not “a real, live criminal case.”

The California Commission on Judicial Performance said Johnson’s remarks flew in the face of California law, which does not require proof that a rape victim tried to resist an attack.

“In the commission’s view, the judge’s remarks reflected outdated, biased and insensitive views about sexual-assault victims who do not ‘put up a fight,’ ” the agency said Thursday.

Johnson remains on the bench. His attorney, Paul Meyer, would not comment Thursday.

The commission, which consists of judges, lawyers and members of the public, voted 10-0 that Johnson deserved a public admonishment.

The commission said it did not learn of the judge’s remarks until May 2012.

The OC Weekly published a story on the judge’s remarks in 2008.


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