TRENTON, N.J. (CBS/AP) – A South Jersey judge who told a woman she could “close your legs” to prevent a sexual assault is “remorseful,” says his lawyer. Judge John Russo Jr. did not speak Tuesday during a disciplinary hearing before the state Supreme Court, but his lawyer, Amelia Carolla, told the justices Russo has “learned his lesson” and he “will not do this again.”
The woman appeared before Russo in 2016 seeking a restraining order against a man she said sexually assaulted her. Russo responded with the comment about closing her legs.
According to a transcript of the exchange, when the woman described her encounter with the man, Russo asked her, “Do you know how to stop somebody from having intercourse with you?”
When the woman answered affirmatively and said one method would be to run away, Russo continued, “Close your legs? Call the police? Did you do any of those things?”
Russo previously said he was seeking more information and wasn’t trying to humiliate the woman.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner questioned how a sex assault victim could have confidence in the judicial process if Russo remains on the bench.
The justices are deciding how to discipline the Ocean County judge. An ethics committee said Russo should be suspended for three months without pay for the comment. He’s been on administrative leave since 2017.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)