US Judge May Face 3-Month Suspension For Asking Sexual Assault Victim If She ‘Closed Her Legs’

Every country has laid down laws that safeguard its citizens from harm. And it is the role of the judiciary to protect the law and mete out adequate punishment for those that violate it. But what happens when the upholders of the law (lawyers and judges) turn out to be unethical? Or worse, become perpetrators themselves? Recently, Mumbai police apprehended a Jabalpur lawyer for persuading a minor to send nudes and subsequently blackmailing her.

In New Jersey, a Superior Court Judge, John Russo, callously asked a rape victim if she ‘blocked her body parts’ or ‘closed her legs’ to prevent the sexual assault.

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According to NJ.com, the case was brought to court in 2016. A woman had filed for a restraining order against a man who forced himself on her. The judge (John Russo) asked the victim,

“Do you know how to stop somebody from having intercourse with you?”

The woman replied by saying that she could inflict physical harm on her attacker or run away but he persisted in his insensitive line of questioning. He further inquired,


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“Block your body parts? Close your legs? Call the police? Did you do any of those things?”

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A Supreme Court ethics committee (with 9 judicial members on the panel) has recommended a 3-month suspension for him.

The panel has submitted a 45-page recommendation which states that Judge Russo’s behaviour was unethical and inappropriate. The final hearing of his case is scheduled for July 9. There are 3 other cases of misconduct in the courtroom against him.

We sincerely hope that the court accepts the panel’s punishment so that it prevents anyone else from repeating this in the future.

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