One of the themes that has become evident during this research is the tendency of not only police officials but also the courts to blame rape victims or minimize the egregiousness of the crime. In 2008, OC judge Derek G. Johnson commented, “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.” In other words, although the rape victim was threatened by the rapist with mutilation with a heated screwdriver, since the victim’s body was not severely beaten as well as raped, it was somehow a less serious form of sexual assaulted that warranted a 6-year rather than 16-year prison sentence. The moral of the story from Judge Johnson’s perspective: if you are raped you better also be beaten to within an inch of your life or you will not be taken seriously in court. The Commission on Judicial Performance recommended that Johnson be reprimanded but this was not until 2012 when the commission learned about Johnson’s statement. So, how many other rape victims have been revictimized in Johnson’s court between 2008 and 2012? My guess is most of them.
Banjarmasin High Court in South Kalimantan (Indonesia) Judge Sanusi deservingly faced a public outcry when he stated that “rape victims “may enjoy intercourse” with their attackers,” so perhaps the crime does not warrant the death penalty. Judge Sanusi could have argued that the death penalty was cruel and unusual without the leap that rape victims might be enjoying themselves when someone rapes them. He tried to play down the seriousness of his statement–he claimed that he did not realize that his statement would hurt people’s feelings. My concerns are how did he not know this and how prevalent are these sentiments among judges? Since the handling of rape cases by the courts is an important determinant in people coming forward for justice against rapists in the future, why do so many judges make these horrendous “slip of the tongue” comments?