Lorena season 1, episode 2 recap: A Woman in Trouble


Episode 2 of Amazon series Lorena revisits the Lorena Bobbitt trial, the second major legal phase in the John and Lorena Bobbitt scandal.

This Lorena segment begins with Lorena Bobbitt’s attorney Blair Howard. He says that, after her husband John’s acquittal, Lorena visited him about her upcoming trial. He told that, if there’s evidence that she was abused, her story would become more believable. It turns out she definitely had some evidence, although coverage at the time apparently was buying it. As the trial started to gain way, it became more politically charged as a “battle of the sexes” thing, almost undermining its basic nature as a “truth thing.”

Sensing this fallout earlier, John Bobbitt’s attorney, Gregg Murphy, advised his client to get away. For a while he listened, secretly going to a ranch near Colorado Springs (in the series original interview, Bobbitt brags about sex he had with a woman named Stephanie while there — as if it’s something we needed to hear). Anyway, Bobbitt didn’t stay in hiding for very long. When he heard of a “John Wayne Bobbitt” lookalike contest, he couldn’t resist the temptation and came out of hiding to win it (and, all other opinions aside, you almost can’t blame him for that).

Meanwhile, Lorena Gallo (her current name) says she was bothered by jokes about the matter, saying she didn’t want to be considered a “hot-blooded Latina immigrant” from Ecuador. While one can understand that, it seems the scandal (and the cultural phenomena) would always be larger than its participants.

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Despite it involving castration, Lorena’s case technically was not considered a sex case. Nevertheless, issues of sex and abuse went hand in hand as the trial commenced. Also, Mr. Bobbitt himself was putting himself more in the spotlight, as if he were Mr. Malicious Wounding 1993. He was the guest of honor at Howard Stern’s 1993 New Year’s Eve special, which raised $250,000 to fund Bobbitt’s surgery costs.  However, while t-shirts were being sold, Lorena was facing a possible 20-year sentence.

Terms like “malicious wounding,” “temporary insanity” and “irresistible impulse” were key. In the initial plea arrangement, she refused to say it was premeditated. She didn’t want a felony to ruin her citizenship.

At this point, we learn more about her past. She went to America for the first time at age 16, and knew she wanted to be a citizen. When she first arrived she spoke little to no English, so she took an English class, but also learned from soap operas and game shows like The Price is Right.

Lorena’s trial

As one might expect, there were lots of spectators as the trial began, creating a circus-like atmosphere. David Kaplan at Newsweek says it was “irresistible.” There were all the signs of a media feeding frenzy.  Curt Gergely, a juror, says he didn’t want to be part of the spectacle. Another juror, Clay Cocalis, says the judge didn’t even bother screening for jurors who hadn’t heard of the couple. Instead, he asked if they could keep an open mind.

Lorena had a good defense team. Lisa Kemler, one of her attorneys, called Lorena “petite,” “delicate” and a battered woman. Basically, she argued that John’s penis represented her trauma. In contrast, the prosecution (apparently) wished to minimize any emotional angle. They argued that prosecution says, because she admits it, she should simply pay for her time. In retrospect, DA Paul Ebert says “[John] wasn’t the brightest bulb that ever burned and she certainly was a very volatile person.”

They did their best to show that she was violent. Bud and Sherry Biro, John’s brother and sister-in-law (respectively) claimed Lorena scratched John while waiting in line for bumper cars. Also, Connie James, one of Lorena’s coworker,s, claimed Lorena stated (in so many words) she would castrate her husband if he cheated on her.

Battle of the sexes

Because people tend to be on one side or the other, some saw this as a battle of the sexes. Kim Masters of Vanity Fair says she saw it as a woman striking back. Whoopi Goldberg seemed highly excited about it, too, making it a part of her stand-up routine for a bit. Kim Gandy, of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, says Lorena was a symbol. At the very least, there seemingly wasn’t balanced coverage of the abuse allegations against him.  More attention was paid to the cut heard ’round the world.

How it began, and how it got cut short

“Lorena” does a fair job of sidestepping some of this and simply focusing on the facts, or what are most likely to be the facts. Like a lot of abusive relationships, the one between John and Lorena started off almost too good to be true. She met him in 1988 at an enlisted men’s club, when she was 19. Her boss, Janna Bisutti, says Lorena never dated anyone else before, and their dates were chaperoned. When John found a ring in a swimming pool, she says it became their engagement ring.

However, things started to change. He couldn’t keep a job and they couldn’t afford their home on her income alone. Because John wasn’t working enough, she had apparently stolen money at one point (and a dress from Nordstrom’s). Even if the theft part is true, it, of course, doesn’t let John off the hook.

Just how bad did things get?  One night, it’s alleged that he was drunk and zig-zagging in the car. Lorena says he punched her after she grabbed the steering wheel. She also claims John’s brother was in the backseat nodding head in approval (which is almost hard to believe, unless you know how crazy people can be).

Back in their apartment, it’s alleged that John had kicked her. However, she claims he abruptly changed when police showed up. She slept in her car that night and didn’t tell anyone about it. A neighbor named Will Hall says he heard a lot of arguments, but only ever heard John’s voice. Another neighbor, Jonathan Kaopua, suggests she was too small to put up a fight. John was also accused of being abusive at a Christmas party.

Lorena reported him a half a dozen times, and others verified that she sometimes had
marks on her throat, bumps on her head and bruises which she would wear extra makeup to try to conceal.  Neighbor Ella Jones testified that she heard a ruckus upstairs. Terri McCumber, a co-worker, said he grabbed her by the hair, hit her, and that she saw bruises. There are further accusations of choking, dragging, and so on. Blair Howard said John forced her to have anal sex on a regular basis, too.

John Wayne Bobbitt’s contradictions

At the trial, Jonathan Whitaker and Jon Kaopua said that, while talking to John once, he claimed he liked to make girls squirm and yell for help. Whitaker says he seemed to be serious. Lorena testified he constantly threatened her. In contrast, Bobbitt denied hitting her, claiming he only ever held her down to restrain her from hitting him. However, this contradicts a form he signed where he admitted to hitting her. We also see Officer Gary Bodmer, who responded to an abuse call for which Bobbitt pleaded guilty — blatantly contradicting John’s claims of never hitting her. At the trial, he denied ever seeing the document before!

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Similarly, although John claims he wasn’t drinking during another arrest, Officer William Francis mentions the alcohol on his breath. By this point, all signs are that he was indeed abusive to her. Now the big question emerges: Was there an irresistible impulse when she castrated him?

What are your thoughts on Lorena? Let us know in the comments!