Over two decades ago, Lorena and John Bobbitt became household names, but for one horrifying reason. Following years of alleged abuse, Lorena cut off her husband's penis. What came after was a storm of sensationalized tabloids and late-night punchlines. Now, Amazon Prime is releasing Lorena, a docuseries produced by Academy Award Winner Jordan Peele that refocuses on the narrative with a domestic violence lens in the #MeToo era. With the new documentary premiering on Feb. 15, people who are unfamiliar with — or don't remember — the case are wondering if John Bobbitt ever went to jail.
Months after the incident, Lorena and John went to trial in Manassas, Virginia — but it was clear that this was no ordinary case. The built-up hype from the late-night talk shows and mass media coverage made the trial into an event. According to The Guardian, people showed up outside the courthouse to sell chocolate-shaped penises and questionable souvenirs. Meanwhile, the trial was aired in its entirety on television. Per USA Today, Lorena alleged in her testimony that John sexually, physically, and emotionally abused her throughout their marriage — and the world eagerly witnessed it all.
In the end, neither Lorena nor John served jail time for their case, which could have carried a maximum sentence of 20 years. According to Los Angeles Times, Lorena was found not guilty of malicious wounding due to reasons of temporary insanity and John was acquitted of marital rape according to Vanity Fair. However, this is not when John’s story with the law ends.
After the trial, John and Lorena Bobbitt went their separate ways, divorcing in 1995. Lorena took back her maiden name, Gallo, and eventually moved on to spread awareness about domestic violence and sexual assault, according to an interview she did with Parade. In the years following the trial, John, who had his penis reattached immediately after the incident, formed a band called The Severed Parts and later became an adult film star, appearing in several pornographic films.
In a separate case in 1994, John was also charged and convicted of battery of Kristina Elliott, his then-fiancé as reported by The Washington Post. According to The New York Times, John was sent to prison for 15 days — originally 60 — because of an "attitude problem." After John served 12 days, the Los Angeles Times reported that he was convicted of a second domestic battery charge and was ordered 30 days.
In 1999, according to the Las Vegas Sun, John faced up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine for felony theft, and was sentenced to five years of probation. In 2003, John was arrested and charged with battery of his then-wife, Joanna Ferrell. Per the Las Vegas Sun, John was found not guilty of four counts of domestic battery.
The lives of John Wayne Bobbitt and Lorena Gallo turned out drastically different. While John has displayed patterns of violence towards women, Lorena continued used her voice to protect women.
In the eyes of the law, both parties were found innocent. However, some may argue that the media missed an opportunity to discuss domestic violence and marital rape in favor of exploiting the act itself — and that's exactly what Amazon's Lorena hopes to challenge.
Lorena drops Feb. 15 on Amazon Prime Video.