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Orange County judge’s rape remarks mirror Todd Akin's

Then-U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin votes on Nov. 6. Credit: J.B. Forbes /St. Louis Post-Dispatch

In saying that a rape victim's sexual assault was only "technical" because the female body "shuts down" when attacked, an Orange County judge admonished by a state agency expressed a scientifically discredited viewpoint that recently sank the campaign of a U.S. Senate candidate.

During a 2008 sentencing, Superior Court Judge Derek G. Johnson said the matter of a man convicted of raping his former live-in girlfriend -– after threatening to mutilate her with a heated screwdriver -– was not "a real, live criminal case."

"I'm not a gynecologist, but I can tell you something. If someone doesn't want to have sexual intercourse, the body shuts down," the judge said, according to documents released Thursday by the state Commission on Judicial Performance. "The body will not permit that to happen unless a lot of damage is inflicted, and we heard nothing about that in this case."

The state panel said Johnson's remarks breached judicial ethics and flew in the face of California law, which does not require proof that a rape victim tried to resist an attack. Johnson apologized to the commission and remains on the bench.

The judge's comments mirror a widely condemned statement made by a Republican U.S. Senate hopeful in the run-up to November's election.

In Missouri, Rep. Todd Akin told a TV reporter in August that conception following a rape was "really rare."

"If it's a legitimate rape," he said, "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

He later said he "misspoke."

In Indiana, another Republican U.S. Senate candidate, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, made a similarly contentious comment about pregnancy and sexual assault, saying in October that conception after rape is "something that God intended to happen." He later apologized.

Democrats capitalized on the uproar that followed the remarks of both men, who were initially favored to win their races. Instead, their opponents -– Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill and Indiana Rep. Joe Donnelly -– sailed to victory.


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Credit: Then-U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin votes on Nov. 6. Credit: J.B. Forbes /St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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