She Said, He Said: The Real Story Of Lorena And John Wayne Bobbitt
“I wish people understood that I was a victim of sexual assault,” she says of becoming a household name in 1993.
In the culmination of a sensational eight-day trial that captivated headlines, on Jan. 22, 1994, a jury found Lorena Bobbitt not guilty by reason of insanity of slicing off her husband John Wayne Bobbitt’s penis the summer before.
Lorena had been charged with malicious wounding and faced up to 20 years behind bars.
“I have a certain amount of sympathy for Mrs. Bobbitt, but that doesn't justify what she did,” then-Prince William County Commonwealth Attorney Paul B. Ebert said of the verdict, The New York Times reported.
“A lot of people go to the penitentiary who in some ways tug at your heart strings, but when you violate the law, you've got to be punished, in my opinion, and this is no exception,” he said.
John, a former marine, met Ecuadorian-born Lorena in 1988 and the two wed the following year.
Lorena later claimed her new husband first hit her a month into their marriage, claims he denied, countering he was a victim of her jealousy. The couple’s relationship, defense attorneys said, quickly degenerated into a four-year “reign of terror.”
On June 23, 1993 Lorena, then a 24-year-old battered wife, finally snapped and suffered a brief psychotic breakdown after her husband raped her in their apartment in Manassas, Virginia, defense lawyers argued during trial (John was acquitted of marital sexual assault the following year.)
Lorena testified on the stand during her trial that she couldn’t fight an “irresistible impulse” to strike back at her husband after years of abuse, so the night of the incident she grabbed a 12-inch kitchen knife.
“It was so many things coming into my mind,” she told ABC News in an interview the same year. “I don't know how to describe [it]. Things like, from the very first day he hit me. Things about the abortion… things that …when he was torturing me, when he was beating me up. When he has forced sex with me, everything, it just came so fast. I pick up the knife and I ... I went back to the bedroom. I took the sheets off and I cut him. Everything went just fast.”
After mutilating her husband while he slept, Lorena fled their home. She was driving when, Lorena testified, she realized there was the kitchen knife in one hand and, in the other, her husband’s “body part.” She threw it out the car window into a field.
She later told police where to find John’s penis, which was located and reattached in a nine-hour surgery.
After finding Lorena not-guilty, Jean Salisbury, one of seven female jurors on the 12-member panel, said reaching a verdict “was not easy.”
“It's a sad situation for everybody,” Salisbury told The Washington Post. “I'm glad it's over, and hopefully the healing process will begin for her… We know the difficulty she'll face ahead of her.”
Lorena and John divorced in 1995.
Today, Lorena, 51, works as a manicurist and hairstylist and still lives in Manassas. She reportedly is in a relationship and has a daughter.
“My life is not a joke. This is reality,” Lorena, who now goes by her maiden name Gallo, told OprahMag.com in 2020. “Most individuals don't know what my case was about — which is abuse and domestic violence. I wish people understood that I was a victim of sexual assault by my ex-husband.”
John reportedly moved to Las Vegas in 1997.
“It’s all a matter of what you believe,” he said about the case in a 2019 interview with ABC News, insisting Lorena was possessive and would allegedly attack him.
Over the years, John, 54, has worked in various jobs, including a brief stint as an adult film star as well as a truck driver and construction worker.
“After the case, I would attract all the wrong people,” he said of serving time for domestic battery charges in connection to relationships he had with two women after Lorena. “And I didn't have that just… discernment of picking and choosing wisely.”