Last year, New Jersey superior court judge John F. Russo, Jr. was suspended after asking a woman seeking a restraining order if she’d “closed her legs” to prevent sexual assault. Following a misconduct investigation, Russo has been removed from his judicial position.
According to a document released by the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Office of the Clerk, Russo was removed after the court found “multiple, serious acts of misconduct” on Russo’s behalf, including the time he let a defense attorney ask a sexual assault survivor about her past as a stripper and then proceeded to take over shaming the plaintiff on the defendant’s behalf:
“On the first day of the hearing, the plaintiff testified that the defendant “force[d] himself on [her] to have sex with him.” She described that alleged attack as well as other events of alleged domestic violence. During cross-examination, defense counsel at one point asked the plaintiff if she had ever worked as an exotic dancer, which she admitted.”
According to the document, it was “soon after” the exotic dancer questions that Russo began asking the woman, who was seeking a restraining order against an ex-partner she said sexually assaulted and threatened her life, what she might have done to prevent her own assault. On the stand, Russo demanded the victim list ways she might “Stop somebody from having intercourse with you” including suggestions that she somehow “block” access to her “body parts,” close her legs, or call the police—which, the fact that all this was happening in a fucking courtroom would suggest the woman had already done.
Russo is also accused of asking a family division manager to reschedule a hearing regarding guardianship of his own special-needs son and reducing the amount owed in a friend’s child support case from $10,000 to $300, among other terrible things.
A three-judge panel unanimously declared that Russo be removed from office, and absolutely no one will miss him, save former high school buddies hoping to duck child support.