John and Lorena Bobbitt
John Wayne Bobbitt (born March 23, 1967 in Buffalo, New York) and Lorena Bobbitt (née Gallo, born October 31, 1970 in Quito, Ecuador) were an American couple, married on June 18, 1989, whose abusive relationship gained worldwide notoriety for an incident in 1993 when she severed his penis with a knife. It was subsequently surgically reattached.
During the middle of the night of June 23, 1993, John arrived at their apartment. In a 1994 court hearing, Lorena stated that after returning home, he raped her. Her claims were dismissed as unevidenced, when, in 1994, John was tried for and acquitted of spousal rape, prosecuted by the same district attorney who prosecuted Lorena for attacking her husband.
At some point during the night, Lorena got out of bed and went to the kitchen for a drink of water. Grabbing the knife, she entered the bedroom where John was sleeping and cut off his entire penis starting at the base.
After assaulting John, Lorena left the apartment with the severed penis, drove a short while, then rolled down the car window and threw it into a field. Realizing the severity of the incident, she stopped and called 911. After an exhaustive search, it was located, packed in ice, and taken to the hospital where John was being treated.
The penis was reattached by surgeons James T. Sehn and David Berman during a nine-and-a-half-hour operation.
Arrest and trial
Lorena was taken into custody. When she was arrested the night of June 23, she told the police, "He always have orgasm [sic], and he doesn't wait for me to have orgasm. He's selfish." This conversation with Detective Peter Wentz was tape-recorded and the transcript was read later in the trial by Mary Grace O'Brien, the Prince William County Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney prosecuting Lorena.
During the trial, the couple revealed details of their volatile relationship and the events leading up to the assault.
Lorena stated that John sexually, physically, and emotionally abused her during their marriage. She said that he flaunted his infidelities, and had forced her to have an abortion. Her defense attorneys, which included well known defense lawyer, Blair D. Howard, maintained that his constant abuse caused her to eventually "snap" as she was suffering from clinical depression and a possible bout of post traumatic stress disorder due to the abuse. He denied the allegations of abuse; however, when he was cross-examined by Howard, his statements often conflicted with known facts, severely weakening the prosecution's case.
Lorena testified that John had raped her and physically battered her on multiple occasions prior to the evening of the severing of his penis, that they lacked financial stability, and that he stole and spent her earnings. Both the prosecution and defense sides conceded that he had demonstrated a history of abuse toward her, that this abuse created a context for the assault. Expert witnesses "for both the prosecution and the defense testified that he had mentally and physically battered her, that the abuse was escalating, and that by 1993 she lived in constant fear of him." One expert witness testified, in accordance with a defense strategy that emphasized her action as being a mix of self-defense and temporary insanity constituting an "irresistible impulse," due to the history and pattern of abuse and rape, that "Lorena believed and was immobilized by John's threat, 'I will find you, whether we're divorced or separated. And wherever I find you, I'll have sex with you whenever I want to.' "
John's own testimony was less satisfying to the jury. He had multiple versions of what had happened that evening in question, relating at various times to police and to the court that "they had not had sex, that Lorena had tried to initiate sex but he had been too tired, that they had had sex but he had slept through it, and that the sex had been consensual."
After seven hours of deliberation, the jury found Lorena not guilty due to insanity causing an irresistible impulse to sexually wound John. As a result, she could not be held liable for her actions. Under state law, the judge ordered her to undergo a 45-day evaluation period at Central State Hospital, located in Petersburg, Virginia, after which she would be released.
In 1995, after six years of marriage, John and Lorena divorced.
After the incident, John attempted to generate money from his notoriety in a number of ways. He formed a band, The Severed Parts, to pay his mounting medical and legal bills, though the band was unsuccessful and failed to generate enough money. In 1994, he appeared in the adult film John Wayne Bobbitt: Uncut, in another attempt to make money. In 1996, he appeared in another adult film, Frankenpenis (also known as John Wayne Bobbitt's Frankenpenis).
On August 10, 1998 he appeared on the World Wrestling Federation's Monday Night Raw television program, where he saved the porn star character Val Venis from being castrated by shutting off the lights in a locker room, allowing Venis to escape his assailants.
Not long after, he moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, where he worked as a bartender, limo driver, mover, pizza delivery driver, and tow truck operator. He also had a stint serving at a wedding chapel as a minister of a Universal Life Church there.
After the divorce, he continued to have run-ins with the law. He was reportedly arrested seven times for offenses ranging from assault to grand larceny. In 1994, he was convicted of misdemeanor domestic battery against his former fiancée, Kristina Elliott, and sentenced to 15 days in jail. In September 1999, he was sentenced to five years' probation for his role in the theft of more than $140,000 in clothing from a store in Fallon, Nevada, and ordered to pay $5,000 restitution and serve 100 hours of community service.
After two trials for domestic abuse against Joanna Ferrell, his third wife, in 2004—one ending in conviction for him and the other in acquittal—he was arrested for a third offense in September 2005. Days after the third incident, he filed for divorce. On February 8, 2006, a municipal judge found him not guilty because of insufficient evidence.
After the trial, Lorena attempted to keep a low profile and reverted to the use of her maiden name, Gallo. In December 1997, she made news when she was charged with assault for punching her mother, Elvia Gallo, as they watched television. She was eventually found not guilty of assault and her mother continued to live with her. In 2007, she was working at a beauty salon in Washington, D.C. and in the same year founded Lorena's Red Wagon organization, which helps prevent domestic violence through family-oriented activities.
In June 2008, she appeared on the CBS News program The Early Show, where she talked about her life since the incident. In the interview, she said that she was in a long-term relationship with Dave Bellinger and that they had a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter. In a 2009 appearance on Oprah, she said that, if she could take anything back, she would have never married John.
Joint public appearance
Although Lorena told Oprah Winfrey in April 2009 that she had no interest in talking to John, they appeared together on the show The Insider in May 2009. It was their first meeting since their divorce. On the show he apologized to her for the way he treated her during their marriage, and she claimed that he still loved her because he continued to send her Valentine's Day cards and flowers.
The Bobbitt case brought attention to the issue of domestic violence. Within days of the incident, anti-domestic violence advocates and some feminist groups rallied around Lorena, citing the alleged continuous abuse she suffered at the hands of John that caused her to attack him, albeit in an unusual and violent manner. In popular media, the case was seen as highlighting the rage around domestic violence and rape not being taken seriously and the demand that men be held liable for such assaults, and the insecurity and vulnerability of a masculinity that situates power in the phallus.
Media attention surrounding the case resulted in national debate and also sparked a flurry of jokes, limericks, T-shirt slogans, advertising gimmicks and an urban legend that Lorena had later been killed in a car accident because "some prick cut her off". The incident was quickly adapted/parodied as a low-budget feature film called Attack of the 5'2" Women. In the film Fight Club, the character Tyler Durden comments that although the main character's house has been blown up, "You know, man... it could be worse, a woman could cut off your penis while you're sleeping and toss it out the window of a moving car", referencing the Bobbitt case. The incident is also mentioned in the "Weird Al" Yankovic single "Headline News".
Shortly after the incident, episodes of "Bobbittmania", or copycat crimes, were reported. The name Lorena Bobbitt eventually became synonymous with penis removal. The terms "Bobbittised punishment" and "Bobbitt Procedure" gained social recognition. The term "bobbittize" also entered medical literature.
- Catherine Kieu
- Lin and Xie case
- Penis transplantation
- Penis removal
- Sada Abe
- Eunice aphroditois ("Bobbit worm")
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- "His Wife Seized His Prize and Cut It to Size": Folk and Popular Commentary on Lorena Bobbitt, by Linda Pershing, Masculinity Lessons: Rethinking Men's and Women's Studies, ed. James V. Catano and Daniel A. Novak, p. 186.
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- Current Med Talk: A Dictionary of Medical Terms, Slang & Jargon Appleton & Lange, 1995 - Medical - 984 pages, by J.C. Segen, "bobbittize' A highly colloquial term for the performance of an unscheduled penectomy outside of a hospital or other health care environment, using suboptimal equipment (eg 12-inch kitchen knife), and in absence of known medical indications of 100 bobbitzations' documented" .. "genital mutilation: the destruction or removal of a portion or the entirety of the external genitalia, which may occur in the context of a crime of passion (see Bobbittize) or as part of a religious right (see female circumcision)" .. "recovery of sexual function requires microsurgical techniques that allow the sewing of vessels and nerves of 1mm or less; chilled on ice; a severed penis is thought to be capable of surviving up to 18 hours prior to reattachment (New York Times 13 July 1993; C3) see Bobbittize"
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