John and Lorena Bobbitt

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John Bobbitt

John Wayne Bobbitt and Lorena Bobbitt (née Gallo) were an American couple, married on June 18, 1989, whose relationship made world-wide headlines in 1993 when Lorena cut off her husband's penis with a knife while he was asleep in bed. The penis was subsequently surgically reattached.


The incident occurred on June 23, 1993, in Manassas, Virginia, and the legal case surrounding the incident subsequently took place during 1993 and 1994.

Lorena stated in a court hearing that, after coming home at night on June 23, 1993, her husband raped her. After her husband had gone to sleep, Lorena grabbed a knife from the kitchen, entered their bedroom, and removed her husband's penis at its base.[1]

After this, Lorena left the apartment with the severed appendage and drove away in her car. After a while, she threw it into a field. She eventually stopped and called 9-1-1. John's penis was found after an exhaustive search, and it was reattached in the hospital where he was treated. The operation took nine and a half hours.[2] However, it never regained full sensation.[3]

Arrest and trial[edit]

Lorena was taken into custody.[clarification needed] 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 ever to have orgasm. He's selfish."[4] 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.[5]

During the trial, the couple revealed details of their volatile relationship and the events that led 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, who included the defense lawyer Blair D. Howard, maintained that his constant abuse caused her to eventually "snap", because she was suffering from clinical depression and a possible bout of post traumatic stress disorder due to the abuse.[6] John 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.[6]

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 and 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".[7] 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.' "[8]

John Bobbitt was later acquitted of rape.[9] 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".[10]

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.[11] 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 renown by forming a band, The Severed Parts, to pay his mounting medical and legal bills, although the band was unsuccessful and failed to generate enough money.[12] In September 1994, he appeared in the adult film John Wayne Bobbitt: Uncut, in another attempt to make money.[13] In 1996, he appeared in another adult film, Frankenpenis (also known as John Wayne Bobbitt's Frankenpenis).[14]

In 1994, he was charged with striking Kristina Elliott, a 21-year-old former exotic dancer he met while in Las Vegas on a publicity tour. On August 31, 1994, he was convicted of battery and sentenced to 15 days in jail (75% of the original 60-day sentence was suspended). "I firmly believe you have an attitude problem," Justice of the Peace William Jansen told Bobbitt. "Your attitude problem is caused by your drinking."[15]

On August 10, 1998,[16] he appeared on the World Wrestling Federation's Monday Night Raw television program, where he was featured with Val Venis.[17][18] 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.[6][19]

In 1999, Bobbitt received probation for his role in a theft at a store in Nevada. In 2003, he was sentenced to prison for violating his probation for the 1999 theft, after he was arrested on battery charges involving his then-wife, Joanna Ferrell. He was again twice arrested on charges of battery against Ferrell in 2004, and that same year, he filed for divorce under the name John W. Ferrell, which he had been using during his marriage with Ferrell.[20]

In 2014, he was severely injured when he broke his neck in a vehicular accident in Buffalo, New York.[21]


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.[22] 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.[23] and in the same year founded Lorena's Red Wagon organization, which helps prevent domestic violence through family-oriented activities.[24]

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.[25] In a 2009 appearance on Oprah, she said that if she could take anything back, she would never have married John.

Joint public appearance[edit]

Although Lorena told Oprah Winfrey in April 2009 that she had no interest in talking to John,[24] they appeared together on the show The Insider in May 2009. It was their first meeting since their divorce.[26] On the show, he apologized to her for the way he treated her during their marriage, and he claimed that he still loved her because he continued to send her Valentine's Day cards and flowers.[27]


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.[28]

Media attention surrounding the case resulted in national debate and also sparked a flurry of jokes, limericks, T-shirt slogans, advertising gimmicks, as well as Howard Stern having Bobbitt as a guest on his 1993 New Year's Eve special and fundraising $250,000 to defray the outstanding costs of Bobbitt's surgery. MCI had also unknowingly been drawn into the fray by running a TV commercial a couple of weeks after the incident advertising how the Bobbitts, a family from Siasconset, Massachusetts (of no relation to the Bobbitts of Manassas, Virginia) saved by switching to MCI, causing jokes to be made of "when they cut off your service, they mean it".[29]

The incident was quickly adapted and parodied as a low-budget feature film called Attack of the 5 Ft. 2 In. Women. In the 1999 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.[30] The name Lorena Bobbitt eventually became synonymous with penis removal. The terms "Bobbittized punishment" and "Bobbitt Procedure" gained social recognition.[31] The term "bobbittize" also entered medical literature.[32] The Bobbit worm, which attacks its prey with scissor-like jaws, is named after the case.[33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bell, Rachael. "Crimes Below the Belt: Penile Removal and Castration (Chapter 1)". Archived from the original on October 5, 2007. Retrieved October 14, 2007.
  2. ^ Achenbach, Joel (October 7, 1993). "A Stitch in Time:'My Wife Cut Me' John Bobbitt Said. For Two Doctors, It Was a Night To Remember". Retrieved December 14, 2009.
  3. ^ Joel Achenbach. "A Stitch in Time". The Washington Post, October 7, 1993.
  4. ^ Smolowe, Jill; Peterzell, Jay (November 22, 1993). "TIME Magazine-Swift Sword of Justice". Time. Retrieved June 23, 2010.
  5. ^ Wife cannot recall cutting off man's penis in January 14, 1994 New Strait Times
  6. ^ a b c Bell, Rachael. "Crimes Below the Belt: Penile Removal and Castration (Chapter 2)". Archived from the original on October 5, 2007. Retrieved October 14, 2007.
  7. ^ "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, p201.
  8. ^ "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.
  9. ^ "The Spokesman-Review – Google News Archive Search". Retrieved March 15, 2016.
  10. ^ "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.
  11. ^ Virginia Vs. Lorena Bobbitt, Court TV. Retrieved on October 14, 2012. Archived January 4, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ IMDb: John Wayne Bobbitt – Biography
  13. ^ "John Wayne Bobbitt Uncut (Video 1994)". IMDb. September 29, 1994. Retrieved September 19, 2015.
  14. ^ Frankenpenis on IMDb
  15. ^ "Jail for John Bobbitt". The New York Times. September 1, 1994. Retrieved October 14, 2007.
  16. ^ "Raw is War: August 10, 1998". The Other Arena. Archived from the original on October 26, 2006. Retrieved March 31, 2008.
  17. ^ Reynolds, R.D. (2003). Wrestlecrap: The Very Worst of Pro Wrestling. Toronto, Ontario: ECW Press. pp. 222–223. ISBN 1-55022-584-7.
  18. ^ "Wrestlecrap: The Val Venis Castration".[dead link]
    later referenced in Past Inductions
  19. ^ Bernard Ryan, Jr. "John Wayne and Lorena Bobbitt Trials: 1993 & 1994 – John Bobbitt's Troubles Continue". Retrieved 2016-03-15.
  20. ^ "John Wayne Bobbitt faces new battery charges". USA Today. September 22, 2005. Retrieved May 31, 2015.
  21. ^ "John Wayne Bobbitt breaks his neck in car wreck after another driver 'jumps red light and ploughs into his pick-up truck'". Daily Mail. November 13, 2014. Retrieved May 31, 2015.
  22. ^ "Bobbitt's Ex-Wife Charged in Assault". The New York Times. December 8, 1997. Retrieved October 14, 2007.
  23. ^ "Lorena Bobbitt Biography". Archived from the original on July 30, 2012. Retrieved October 14, 2007.
  24. ^ a b "Lorena Bobbitt's Unforgettable Story".
  25. ^ "Lorena Bobbitt, 15 Years Later". CBS News. June 25, 2008. Retrieved July 28, 2008.
  26. ^ "John & Lorena: The Shocking Bobbitt Reunion at The Insider". Archived from the original on July 14, 2009.
  27. ^ "John Bobbitt still loves Lorena 16 years after she hacked off his penis". ANI. May 5, 2009. Archived from the original on February 19, 2010.
  28. ^ "Battle of Sexes Joined in Case Of a Mutilation". The New York Times. November 8, 1993. Retrieved October 14, 2007.
  29. ^ Newsweek January 2, 1994 "He, She and the Celebrity".
  30. ^ Gumbel, Andrew. "Bobbittmania takes a grip on psyche of Latin lover". Archived from the original on October 21, 2007. Retrieved October 14, 2007.
  31. ^ Husain, M., Rizvi, S.J., Usmani, J.A. "A Critical Review of Post-phase Period of Lorena Bobbitt's Indictment". Archived from the original on March 14, 2007. Retrieved October 14, 2007.
  32. ^ 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 (e.g. 12-inch kitchen knife), and in absence of known medical indications of 100 bobbitizations' 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 1 mm 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"
  33. ^ "Who Named the Bobbit Worm (Eunice sp.)? And WHAT species is it.. truly??". 2014-08-13.

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