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10: Lorena Bobbitt - Yanked it Right Off

Cody and Greg discuss Lorena Bobbitt and her knife wielding skills. This story caused the world to take a hard look at domestic violence, and also caused a flurry of jokes on nearly every talk show around the world. Sorry in advance for all the laughing.

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Episode Information

Today we’re finally covering our first female. Which we probably should have done earlier, but better late than never. And I think that we’ll be starting with a good story, although it’s from a bit more recent history. This particular moment in history completely rocked the early 90s, and caused the world to really start taking a look at domestic violence.

 

That’s right - on today’s episode, we’ll be covering Lorena Bobbitt. I won’t say outright what happened to and because of Lorena Bobbitt just yet, because I’d rather it be a surprise for our listeners that may not have heard about her up to this point. Which would be odd, because most people have at least heard her name. 

 

We’ll obviously get to the incident in a moment, but first, I want to put a little disclaimer out there that this episode will discuss domestic violence. So, if you’re someone that may not be comfortable hearing about domestic violence issues, I’d invite you to listen to some of our other episodes instead. However, it’s also important to say that, at least in my opinion, there was some form of justice served for the domestic violence received in this situation.

History

Lorena Gallo, as she goes by today, was born Lorena Leonor Gallo in Bucay, Ecuador in October 1970. She grew up in Caracas, Venezuela, with two younger siblings. Her father worked as a dental technician and the family lived a middle-class lifestyle. 

 

Once Lorena turned 15, for her quinceanera she was given a trip to the United States. During this trip, Lorena fell in love with the United States and she wanted to live in the country. Her family was not able to emigrate to the US, but in 1987 Lorena obtained a student visa. To work her way through her schooling, she took a job as a nanny and then later at a nail salon.

 

After about a year, Lorena then met John Bobbitt at a military enlisted club. John was a U.S. Marine at the time and Lorena was in community college in Virginia. John was actually Lorena’s first boyfriend and the two were married a year later on Jun 18, 1989. Lorena was 20 and John was 22 at the time.

 

According to Lorena, John became violent with her a few weeks after the wedding. She states that they were driving home from a bar and John was allegedly driving dangerously. When she voiced her disapproval of this, she states that John hit her. From this point on, Lorena states their relationship continued being abusive, with John hitting and raping her regularly.

At one point in their marriage, Lorena became pregnant. She states that John forced her to get an abortion, and states that, while at the clinic, he taunted her about how the procedure would kill her. John denies this and states that the decision to abort was mutual. 

 

In 1991, John separated from the Marines, and, for some reason, Lorena’s nail salon worker salary became the couple’s only source of income. I’m entirely unsure as to why John didn’t or couldn’t get a job at this point. But this also led to Lorena stealing from her employer to keep up with mortgage payments for the home they had purchased the year prior. Not to blame either side in this issue, but John’s decision to leave the Marines at this time was a terrible decision. However, I couldn’t find any information on his discharge. So, I’m not sure if he was voluntarily or involuntarily discharged, or if the discharge was honorable or dishonorable. If he did choose to separate from the Marines, it was a terrible time to do so. 

 

Apparently, throughout this time period, police were called to the Bobbitts’ home on multiple occasions. Once in 1991, John pleaded guilty to assault and battery, although these charges were dismissed because he went to counseling. However, John stated that it was actually Lorena being belligerent towards him. He stated that she was extremely jealous and would hit him, and he would only ever hit her in self-defense. It’s worth noting that the couples’ neighbours had seen bruises on Lorena previously. There are multiple stories of abuse between the couple, and someone in the trial actually stated that the two were made for each other.  

 

John also claimed that he planned to divorce Lorena, which upset her due to the fact that she would lose her green card and would be unable to become a U.S. citizen. Although, Lorena states that the marriage was not just for a green card. Either way, the marriage seems to be, at the very least, a little emotional.

Incident

On June 23, 1993, Lorena alleges that her husband came home drunk. She then states that he sexually assaulted her and then fell asleep. Lorena got up from the bed and went to the kitchen. That’s where she saw a knife. It’s debated what the length of the knife was. It was either 7, 8, or 12 inches in length. Everywhere gives different lengths. 

 

She returned to the bedroom and stood over her sleeping husband with the knife. She pulled back the sheets. John Bobbitt claims that Lorena began to “play around” with him. In his mind, she was trying to arouse him while he was sleeping. He felt a pull and a yank, and then pain. Lorena has severed her husband’s penis off completely. 

 

Lorena then left the home, knife and penis still in hand, and drove off. John woke up a guest that was staying with them and calmly asked him to take him to the emergency room. On the way, John supposedly said, “They better be able to make me a new penis.” He arrived at the emergency room and the police were called. John was told by a microsurgeon that if they weren’t able to locate the severed penis, that John would have the have the knub sutured closed, and his urethra would have to be redirected in a way that he would have to sit to pee for the rest of his life. 

 

After responding to the hospital, the police set out to find the missing member. They first went to the Bobbitts’ home. They searched the entire home to find it. Police on the scene searched in the sink, freezer, dishwasher, and garbage disposal. One of the crime scene technicians was told that it was thought that Lorena had swallowed penis. 

 

Finally, Lorena, at the urging of one of her friends, ended up telling the police that she remembered throwing things out the window of her car into a field. She thought the penis might have been one of the things she threw. So, the police sent a large search party to the field and they began searching. It was found in this field, but as it’s reported, none of the officers wanted to touch it. One of the sergeants on the scene, Sergeant William Hurley, who was described as being very religious, was asked where the penis was. Hurley pointed to the penis, but would not get near it. Apparently, he had also stepped on the penis when gesturing to where it was. A volunteer firefighter named Mike Perry was the one to pick it up. The penis was then taken to a nearby service station and placed on ice inside a hotdog bag.

 

The appendage was then rushed to the hospital and given to the surgeon. Luckily for John, the penis was able to be reattached after a nine and a half hour surgery. Although, I think it doesn’t look quite right. 

Trial

This trial was a huge ordeal. It became the talk of the world. Every news channel was covering it, and every newspaper had an article. Both John and Lorena were actually charged with crimes. So, there were two trials happening very close to each other: a criminal trial against John Bobbitt for the rape and assualt of Lorena and another criminal trial against Lorena for her assault on John. 

 

John’s Trail

In John’s case, they initially wanted to try to charge him with marital rape, which apparently held a sentence of life in prison. So a VERY serious offense. However, it’s very difficult to prove marital rape, so they downgraded the charge to malicious assault. In this case, the jury was instructed by the judge to disregard any of the things John had allegedly done more than 5 days prior to the event. This was apparently due to certain Virginia laws, and I was not able to find this specific law, or if it is still a current law. But, I think I can shed some light on the reasoning behind this.

 

This is obviously my opinion on the matter, not fact. However, it seems to me that the judge only wanted the case against John to be based on the things he had allegedly done to Lorena’s in the immediate past of the incident. So, her defense would not be allowed to pile on an enormous amount of accusations against John in an attempt to justify cutting off his penis, they could only rely on things that happened the night of the incident, or immediately prior.

 

At the time, this was likely the law. However, I do believe this is actually outdated. Studies now show that women commit offences against life (assault, manslaughter, or murder) in different ways than men. One thing that has been seen in studies is the “slow burn” effect. In general, the idea is that women are more likely to build up the urge to hurt someone overtime. As opposed to killing someone in an instant crime of passion. And a lot of times, this “slow burn” comes from domestic abuse. This can actually be used as a murder defense. However, at this point in the law, I doubt this was something that was very well researched, and I’m actually not even sure if Lorena would have been allowed to use it as a defense.

 

So, since the prosecution could not rely on John’s alleged past actions, they had to go off of his actions that night and the 5 days prior. Lorena claimed that on the Friday previously that John had raped her and told her that he enjoyed “forced sex”. She then said that she had consenual sex with him the morning after. When questioned why she consented to sex after being raped, she claimed that she was scared that he would rape her anyway. 

 

On the night of the incident, Lorena said that John woke up up and forced her to have sex. This allegedly pushed her over the edge, causing her to cut John’s penis off. She states that he ripped her underwear off. This underwear was used as evidence in the trial.

 

John stated that he and Lorena had consensual sex, and that he remembers sliding her underwear off with is feet. His lawyer also brought in an expert who tried to recreate the ripping of the underwear in a similar way, but the expert states that he was unable to do so without actually using a pair of scissors to cut a piece of the underwear first. The defense also argued that Lorena had driven from the home after the incident and was driving to her place of work, the nail salon. They claimed that she drove to the salon and then cut the underwear herself. Then, I suppose, returned the underwear while John went to the hospital. I’m a bit fuzzy on those details. 

 

However, with the expert witness for John, and the lack of evidence, John was acquitted on all charges after 4 hours of deliberation. The jury was a collection of 9 women and 3 men, so it’s probably fair to say that the prosecution’s case against John was just not strong enough. 

 

Lorena’s Trial

Lorena was charged with malicious assault, and the trial began on January 10, 1994. Apparently, there were autographed John Bobbit T-shirts being sold with the proceeds going to Lorena for the defense fund.

 

The jury consisted of seven women and five men. During the opening statements, the prosecution argued that Lorena had known exactly what she was doing and that she had acted maliciously against John. The defense, however, said that Lorena was a battered woman. Their argument was that Lorena felt that she was trapped in her marriage and couldn’t escape the oppression from John. With this in mind, Lorena juxtaposed her life with John’s penis, making it a symbol of the oppression she could not escape. So, severing it would set her free, in a way. The final sentence of the defense’s arguments was, “At the end of this case, you will come to one conclusion, and that is that a life is more valuable than a penis.”

 

Like I mentioned earlier, John denied the allegation of abuse, and did so as well on the stand during the case. Lorena testified to all of the abuse she allegedly suffered from John. She also stated that she did not remember severing John’s penis. To this, the prosecution quoted her police statement in which she had said, “He always have orgasm and he doesn't wait for me to have orgasm. He’s selfish. I don’t think it’s fair, so I pulled back the sheets and I did it.” But Lorena stated in the trial, that she had only said that in the police report because that was what she assumed had happened. 

 

Finally, a defense psychiatrist testified that Lorena suffered a "brief reactive Psychosis" under which she attacked "the instrument that was the weapon of her torture." But, a prosecution psychiatrist responded by saying, "she had a choice to make. She chose to amputate that penis, and as such we do not have an irresistible impulse but an impulse she did not resist."

 

The jury then deliberated for six hours, and decided that Lorena had suffered from temporary insanity when she cut John’s penis off. She was found not guilty on all criminal charges, and a male member of the jury actually stated, "We didn't believe John Bobbitt."

 

Under state law, Lorena underwent five weeks of psychiatric examination in a mental hospital and was then released. She was then ordered to undergo further weekly treatment and to not leave Virginia.

 

Greg, who do you think was in the right in this situation?

Afterwards

Well, now I’m sure the listeners are asking themselves one big question. “Where the hell are they now?” Or, more likely, “What EXACTLY does John’s penis look like?” Well, we’re going to get to that right now.

 

Lorena

Following her trial, Lorena remained in Virginia. She worked a few different jobs to make money including a cosmetologist, administrative assistant, and a real estate agent. She accepted some money for certain interviews, but she turned down a $1 million offer to pose nude in Playboy. 

 

She also became an advocate for domestic violence. She remarried and had a daughter with her new husband. She now has a documentary called “Lorena” on Amazon Prime that is actually pretty good. One of the executive producers is Jordan Peele, who’s always great.

 

It’s also worth mentioning that in 1997 she was arrested and charged with assault on her mother. Although, she was later acquitted of those charges.

 

John

John, on the other hand, has lived a much more colorful life. After the trial, John was actually booked on a worldwide media tour called “Love Hurts”. He also gained a following from Howard Stern, who took John’s side during the issue. Howard Stern actually stated that he didn’t believe John had raped Lorena because Lorena was too ugly. Stern also assisted John with money for penis surgery in one of his annual televised events. Further to this particular point, John was said to have had penis enlargement surgery, and then reduction surgery years later.

 

Within months of the previously mentioned media tour, Bobbitt was engaged with a former topless dancer named Kristinia Elliot. However, in 1994 John was arrested when Elliot called the police saying that he had assaulted her, reportedly throwing her against a wall. He pleaded not guilty and was released on bail awaiting trial. Before the trial, John announced that he had completely recovered from the incident saying that “it’s like it was before.” He then found out he had a son by another woman named Beatrice Williams, although he pleaded guilty to the paternity suit and was excited to be a father. 

 

Two months after this, Elliott’s trial against John commenced and he was convicted of a misdemeanor for the assault. The judge stated that Bobbitt had “an attitude problem” and sentenced him to 60 days in jail, with 45 days suspended. The judge also ordered him to go to therapy and join Alcoholics Anonymous.

 

Unlike Lorena’s run-in with Playboy, John decided to accept a pornographic offer. He starred in an x-rated film with the title: “John Wayne Bobbitt Uncut.” However, 2 years after this, John was actually ordained as a minister of the University Life Church. Which, coincidentally, is where I have been ordained since 2013.

 

Even with his ordainment, John, unlike me, again fell to a life of debauchery. He took a job as a greeter at a brothel in Nevada, which I don’t even understand how that works. John also shows up in the Lorena documentary on Amazon Prime, which is super interesting to see. Lorena states that John also still sends her letter and Valentines, although she has stated she has not interest in rekindling their relationship.

Conclusion

Well, however you slice it, I think we can all agree that this entire situation was completely unfortunate. The facts are impossible to determine with absolute certainty. But we do know two things: 1) Lorena Gallo is not to be fucked with, and 2) John Bobbitt likely still walks a bit funny.

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