Joseph ‘Joe’ Son, the Austin Powers actor who tortured and viciously raped a woman named Victoria back in 1990, will be profiled on the next CBS 48 Hours. 48 Hours is a weekly program that reports on true stories from around the country. The victim, who some say should be described as the victor, will tell viewers how she survived the rape and torture of Joe Son and his accomplice, Santiago Gaitan.
The nightmare began for 19-year-old Victoria in December 1990, after she was approached by two men while walking her dog near her apartment in Huntington Beach, California. It was Christmas Eve when she said the men, kidnapped her and forced her into the back of vehicle. The woman, whose identity has been disguised, says the men tortured her for hours mentally and physically. At one point, one of the gunman threatened to throw her from a cliff. The Los Angeles Times gives a detailed account of the brutality.
“Son and the other man told her they were driving to Compton, pistol-whipped her and repeatedly threatened to kill her. Prosecutors said Son then repeatedly raped, sodomized and forced the victim to orally copulate him in the back of the car. He also tortured her with a firearm. Son’s cohort Santiago Lopez Gaitan, 40, of San Antonio raped the woman.() Afterward, Son threatened to kill the victim and counted the bullets in the gun out loud as she pleaded for her life. Son and Gaitan finally allowed the woman, identified only as Jane Doe, to leave, naked and with her pants tied around her eyes.”
Victoria believes the only thing that saved her was that she tried to gain sympathy from them by telling them that she was a mother with a child. After the men had their way with her, they dumped her out of the vehicle and left her for dead. CBS reports that she was eventually able to solicit help from a home nearby.
Law enforcement officials wanted to help the young woman and were confident that they would eventually catch the men responsible. Unfortunately, the case went cold for almost two decades before she received the call that changed her life. In 2008, investigators got a match to the DNA evidence that had been obtained and saved from the night of the assault 18-years-ago. The profile matched a man named Joseph Hyungmin Son, aka Joe Son, a Hollywood actor who played the role of Random Task in the hit movie Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. The second man who had allegedly been with him that night was identified as Santiago Gaitan.
In the CBS 48 Hours episode you’ll hear how investigator Don Howell was sure that they were able to bring charges on them for rape but were unable to due to the statue of limitations. Instead, the prosecutor in the case decided to try the men for torture. A spokesperson for the District Attorney’s office explained why this was necessary, according to E News.
“We didn’t proceed on the sexual assault charges based on the statute of limitations,” she said. “So the sexual assault charges were not taken before a jury so the only count he was found guilty of was torture. But based on that count, he still faces a maximum sentence of 15 years to life so it’s still a very significant count to be found guilty of.”
Ultimately, the infamous Austin Powers actor was sentenced to life in a California correctional facility. It was reported later that Joe Son had murdered his cellmate, a 50-year-old man who had been arrested for failing to register as a sex offender. Joe Son and his former high school pal, Santiago Lopez Gaitan, have been in prison since 2011. Victoria’s story is one of triumph and courage. You can watch CBS’ 48 Hours on Saturday, January 23 at 10 p.m. This episode is scheduled to air as a two-part special.
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