An alleged rape victim was asked by a judge in court why she didn’t CLOSE HER LEGS when her attacker was trying to sexually assault her.
John F. Russo Jr., who was appointed in 2015, made the assertion during a hearing in May 2016 to determine whether a restraining order should be issued. Russo, who was placed on paid administrative leave in May 2017, is now facing four counts of judicial misconduct.
The woman filed for a restraining order after a man “forced her to have sex with him against her will,” according to a complaint filed Monday by the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct.
She also claimed he physically and verbally abused her, threatened to burn her house down, stole from her and threatened to take their daughter away from her if she left him, the complaint said.
Russo asked the woman to explain the incident while she was testifying.
“Do you know how to stop somebody from having intercourse with you?” he questioned the woman.
After she explained that she can avoid sexual contact by physically harming someone, Russo pressed her on how she could avoid the situation without physical contact.
” … To run away or try to get away,” the woman said.
Russo responded, “Run away, get away. Anything else?”
“I — that’s all I know,” she said.
“Block your body parts?” Russo said. “Close your legs? Call the police? Did you do any of those things?”
Russo was also charged with three other judicial conduct violations.
In the second violation, Russo was reprimanded for failing to recuse himself from a case in which a bench warrant was issued for a man who failed to pay alimony. Russo knew the couple since high school.
He told the man that saying he got evicted from the space he rented for his pizza shop was “not as good” as saying someone purchased the shop.
Russo then reduced the amount the man needed to pay from $10,000 to $300, the complaint said.
“(Russo) acknowledged personal relationship with (the couple) and comments about (the man’s) business created the appearance of a conflict of interest that required (Russo’s) recusal from the matter,” the complaint said.
In a third violation, he is accused of attempting to “use the judicial office to advance a personal interest” by trying to rearrange a personal family court matter in Burlington County at a time more convenient for him.
And in the fourth violation, he called a mother to see if she complied with a paternity test without the father present on the call.
The complaint alleges Russo violated multiple Canons of the Code of Judicial Conduct and Court rules, including not upholding the standards of the judiciary.
Russo currently has a lawsuit pending in federal court against the state Judiciary and two of his superiors alleging he was discriminated against and forced to work in a hostile work environment.