Judge Faces Suspension for Reportedly Asking Plaintiff in a Sexual Assault Case If She 'Closed Her Legs'

Judge Faces Suspension for Reportedly Asking Plaintiff in a Sexual Assault Case If She 'Closed Her Legs'
Image: (Flickr/Blogtrepreneur)

A New Jersey judge with some worthless opinions on sexual assault prevention faces a three month suspension after allegedly asking a woman seeking a restraining order if she “closed her legs” in order to prevent an assault, among other abuses of authority.

At a May 2016 hearing, in which an unnamed woman appeared in court hoping to get a restraining order against a man she claimed sexually assaulted her, threatened her life, and made “inappropriate comments” to their child, Ocean County, New Jersey superior court judge John F. Russo, Jr. reportedly had the following condescending and absolutely wrong things to say:

“Do you know how to stop somebody from having intercourse with you?” Judge Russo asked the woman.
“Yes,” she replied.
“How would you do that?” the judge asked.
The woman said she would try to physically harm the attacker and say “no,” to which Judge Russo asked, “What else?”
The woman said she would ask the person to stop, to which Judge Russo again asked, “What else?”
She then said she would run away.
“Run away, get away,” he said. “Anything else?”
“Block your body parts?” Judge Russo added. “Close your legs? Call the police? Did you do any of those things?”

In addition to this exchange, which should be fireable in its own right, Judge Russo is also accused of asking a family division manager to reschedule a guardianship hearing for his son with disabilities, not recusing himself in a high school friend’s hearing, and having a nine-minute phone conversation about paternity testing with a woman involved in a case to which the plaintiff was not privy.

A committee recommended he be suspended without pay for three months and receive training on “appropriate courtroom conduct.” Sounds like something he maybe needed before getting power over a whole bunch of people’s lives and safety, but sure, just give this guy the summer off and he’ll probably come back a much more compassionate, ethical person.

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