Twenty-five years ago to the day, the name Lorena Bobbitt became notorious: on June 23, 1993, the young wife cut off her husband’s penis with a kitchen knife.
Here’s a look back at the key moments from the sensational case that transfixed America.
Lorena Bobbitt, a 24-year-old Ecuadorian immigrant, claimed the knife attack occurred minutes after her husband, John Wayne Bobbitt, drunkenly returned to their Manassas, Virginia, home and raped her.
“He jumped on top of me and he started grabbing my arms really tight,” she told ABC News in an interview at the time. “I said, ‘I don’t want to have sex’… he forced me… my underwear was ripping off. I was just fighting… He wouldn’t listen.”
After the alleged rape, “I was crying and I just wanted to get a glass of water,” she said.
She went to the kitchen, picked up a knife and returned to their room, where her husband was asleep.
“I took the sheets off and I cut him,” she told ABC News, crying.
“I didn’t know she cut it off,” John Wayne Bobbitt said in a 2016 episode of “Scandal Made Me Famous.” “She did it so fast and ran so fast, I thought maybe I saw a little bit of her in my peripheral running out the bedroom door. But I looked down and there was blood everywhere.”
“I applied pressure,” he said, “I get up and try to put my pants on, and tried to get to the hospital as fast as I could.”
Meanwhile, Lorena Bobbitt jumped in her car and fled.
She later testified that she didn’t realize what she had done until she noticed while driving that she had the knife in one hand and the severed penis in the other, The Washington Post reported at the time. She then threw the penis out of the car window.
Lorena Bobbitt was charged with malicious wounding and faced up to 20 years in prison.
In court, Lorena Bobbitt claimed she had been repeatedly sexually assaulted by her husband, including the night of the knife attack.
“He would be on top of me and he would use his hands to choke me … every time he did that he’d hit me,” she told ABC News in a 1993 interview. “He forced me into sex … I would just cry.”
Her highly-publicized trial — a year before the O.J. Simpson double murder case began — pushed domestic violence into the national conversation.
John Wayne Bobbitt, a former Marine, denied her allegations. He was charged with marital sexual assault and found not guilty in a separate trial.
After her eight-day trial that captivated the country, Lorena Bobbitt was found not guilty of malicious wounding by reason of temporary insanity. She spent five weeks at a mental hospital for treatment and evaluation.
After her release from the facility, she opened up in another interview with ABC News, saying she regretted her actions.
“I never meant to hurt anybody. I never hurt anybody before,” she said, “It just happened.”
“We both were victims of a tragic situation … two crimes,” she said. “Sometimes we’re so trapped in a psychologically mental situation that we might just, can’t take it anymore, and this is exactly what happened to me.”
The Bobbitts — who were married for six years — divorced in 1995.
John Wayne Bobbitt’s penis was recovered from the field where Lorena ditched it and the body part was successfully reattached in a 10-hour surgery.
“With microsurgery, you either establish the circulation and it works, or it doesn’t — there’s no in between,” Bobbitt’s surgeon, Dr. David Berman, said in a 2016 “Scandal Made Me Famous” episode, according to People Magazine.
Post-surgery, John Wayne Bobbitt went on to appear in several adult films and Howard Stern paid for him to have a penis enlargement, the Daily Mirror reported.
Though John Wayne Bobbitt was acquitted of marital sexual assault after Lorena’s allegations, he went on to be convicted of domestic violence offenses involving two other women, The Huffington Post reported in 2016.
As for his feelings towards his infamous ex, he said in the 2016 “Scandal Made Me Famous” episode, “I don’t blame Lorena.”
“We both hurt each other,” he said in the episode, according to People. “I wish her the best.”
ABC News caught up with Lorena Bobbitt 17 years after the assault. By that time a lot had changed: she started using her maiden name, met a new partner and became a mother.
She also said her newfound passion was counseling domestic violence victims. She founded the domestic violence organization Lorena’s Red Wagon in 2007.
Now, 25 years later, Jordan Peele — the Oscar winner behind “Get Out” — is creating a four-part docu-series for Amazon called “Lorena.”
“When we hear the name ‘Bobbitt,’ we think of one of the most sensational incidents to ever be catapulted into a full-blown media spectacle,” Peele said in a statement this year. “With this project, Lorena has a platform to tell her truth as well as engage in a critical conversation about gender dynamics, abuse and her demand for justice. This is Lorena’s story, and we’re honored to help her tell it.”
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