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 Bucay, Ecuador) were an American couple, married on June 18, 1989, whose abusive relationship gained worldwide notoriety for an incident in 1993 when Lorena severed John's penis with a knife. The penis was subsequently surgically re-attached.
During the night of June 23, 1993, John Wayne Bobbitt arrived at the couple's apartment. In a 1994 court hearing, she stated that after returning home, he raped her. Her claims were dismissed as unevidenced, when, in 1994, Bobbitt 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 Bobbitt got out of bed and went to the kitchen for a drink of water. Grabbing the knife, Lorena Bobbitt entered the bedroom where John was sleeping and proceeded to cut off his entire penis starting at the base.
After assaulting her husband, Lorena left the apartment with the severed penis, drove a short while, then rolled down the car window and threw the penis into a field. Realizing the severity of the incident, she stopped and called 911. After an exhaustive search, the penis was located, packed in ice, and taken to the hospital where John Bobbitt was being treated.
The penis was reattached by Doctors James T. Sehn and David Berman during a nine-and-a-half-hour operation.
Arrest and trial
Lorena Bobbitt was taken into custody. When Lorena 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'Brian, the one prosecuting Lorena.
During the trial, the couple revealed details of their volatile relationship and the events leading up to the assault.
Lorena stated that her husband sexually, physically, and emotionally abused her during their marriage. She said that her husband 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 John's constant abuse caused Lorena to eventually "snap" as she was suffering from clinical depression and a possible bout of post traumatic stress disorder due to the abuse. John Bobbitt 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 her husband 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 her husband stole and spent her earnings. Both the prosecution and defense sides conceded that John Wayne Bobbitt had demonstrated a history of abuse toward Lorena, 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 Lorena, 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 Lorena's 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 Bobbitt'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 her husband. As a result, she could not be held liable for her actions.[dead link] Under state law, the judge ordered Lorena 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, Lorena and John divorced.
After the incident, John Wayne Bobbitt 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, John 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 suffering a similar fate that Bobbitt did by shutting off lights.
Not long after, he moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, where he worked as a bartender, limousine 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 in Las Vegas.
After the divorce, John 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 John Bobbitt and the other in acquittal —, he was arrested for a third offense in September 2005. Days after the third incident, he filed for a divorce. On February 8, 2006, a municipal judge found him not guilty because of insufficient evidence.
After the trial, Lorena Bobbitt attempted to keep a low profile and reverted to the use of her maiden name, Gallo. In December 1997, Gallo 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 the Washington, D.C. area and in the same year founded Lorena's Red Wagon organization, which helps prevent domestic violence through family-oriented activities.
In June 2008, Gallo 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, Gallo said that, if she could take anything back, she would have never married John Wayne Bobbitt.
Joint public appearance
Although Lorena told Oprah Winfrey in April 2009 that she had no interest in talking to John, John and Lorena appeared together on the show The Insider in May 2009. It was their first meeting since their divorce.[dead link] On the show John apologized to Lorena for the way he treated her during their marriage, and Lorena claimed that John still loved her because he continued to send her Valentine's Day cards and flowers.[dead link]
The Bobbitt case was one of the first cases that brought public attention to the subject of marital rape.[dead link] The case also 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 her husband 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.[dead link] The term bobbittize also entered medical literature.
The worm Eunice aphroditois is colloquially known as Bobbitt 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 206.
- "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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