California Judge’s Rape Comments Deemed ‘Inappropriate,’ Admonished Officially

Superior Court Judge Derek G. Johnson’s controversial comments on rape during a rape case were made way back in 2008, but it is only now the justice has been called to account for words that not only affected the case over which he was presiding, but also were interpreted to undermine the severity of rape charges overall.

Judge Derek Johnson was, as the Los Angeles Times reports, “publicly admonished by the Commission on Judicial Performance” and it was later determined that his comments “breached judicial ethics and created an impression of bias against the victim.”

The rape judge’s sanction comes nearly five years after he sentenced Metin Gurel, who had been found guilty on several charges. Among the convictions in the case in which Gurel’s victim was his live-in girlfriend were rape, forcible oral copulation, domestic battery, and stalking. The paper also reports that on the day of the rape, the assailant threatened to penetrate and facially mutilate his victim with a heated-up screwdriver.

In the course of sentencing, Johnson rejected a prosecutor’s request he sentence Gurel to sixteen years behind bars for the violent crime, opting for a six-year sentence. But the California judge didn’t stop there, also opining during the sentencing that

“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 in inflicted, and we heard nothing about that in this case.”

Unbelievably, the California judge opined of the rape:

“That tells me that the victim in this case, although she wasn’t necessarily willing, she didn’t put up a fight … 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 Supreme Court didn't make a decision Friday

Lawrence Simi, chair of the commission, wrote after a 10-0 vote to publicly admonish the judge that his comments contradicted California rape laws, saying:

“In the commission’s view, the judge’s remarks reflected outdated, biased and insensitive views about sexual assault victims who do not ‘put up a fight.’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. In his response to the commission and at his appearance, Judge Johnson conceded his comments were inappropriate and apologized.”

While California media outlets published Judge Johnson’s remarks back in 2008, the commission said that the situation did not come to their attention until May of 2012. The judge is still on the bench despite the rape controversy.