John Wayne Bobbitt escaped jail time in Fallon |

John Wayne Bobbitt escaped jail time in Fallon

David C Henley

Did you watch the television special about John Wayne Bobbitt, the fellow whose penis was sliced off by his wife 26 years ago, that was broadcast late last month on KOLO (channel 8), the ABC station in Reno?

I watched the show, which featured an interview with Bobbitt, and it brought back memories of his troubled Fallon stay in 1999, six years after he was mutilated by his wife. For those unfamiliar with Bobbitt’s difficulties in Fallon, here’s the rundown:

Following his misadventure with wife, Lorena, which made international headlines after she cut off his penis with a kitchen knife while he was asleep in their Northern Virginia apartment, 25-year-old Bobbitt eventually moved to Las Vegas where he was jailed twice on charges of beating up his new girlfriend, a topless dancer. He was found guilty, served a month in jail and ordered to undergo counseling.

He then took up residence in Fallon and found work as a limousine driver for a Lyon County brothel, hauling customers between the house of prostitution, the Reno airport and hotels in Reno and Carson City.

But he also fell in with a bad crowd while living in Fallon, and was arrested by Churchill County law enforcement authorities on charges of stealing more that $140,000 worth of clothing from the Hub store here. (It has since closed.) Arrested along with Bobbitt were five other individuals, two of whom were his cousins.

On Sept. 13, 1999, Bobbitt and the others appeared before District Judge Archie Blake in the Churchill County Courthouse and pleaded guilty to felony charges of grand larceny. Bobbitt and his co-defendants were indeed fortunate: They received no jail time and were sentenced to probation, community service and ordered to pay restitution to the Hub store. Because Bobbitt at that time was planning to move to upstate New York to be near his parents, the judge permitted him to fulfill his probation sentence and community service in New York and pay Hub $5,000 in restitution. Bobbitt could have faced up to five years prison time in Nevada plus a heavy fine.

The Lahontan Valley News and Fallon Eagle-Standard, then published daily, as well as other newspapers, the Associated Press and television networks covered Bobbitt’s trial, and our excellent written and photographic coverage made page one headlines for several days. During the trial, Bobbitt admitted that he and the others had sold the shoplifted clothes from the back of a pickup truck in the parking lots of Sparks and Reno malls. The thieves, though, were not too bright: They neglected to remove the price tags bearing the Hub name and logo from the garments before selling them!

Fast forward to Bobbitt’s TV appearance last month. Bobbitt, who is now 50, was difficult to recognize at first. Handsome and fit when young, today he is somewhat seedy-looking, paunchy and sports a scraggly beard on his chin.

Describing that terrible night in 1993 when Lorena severed his penis following a domestic dispute, she drove off in her car with the sexual organ on her lap and tossed it out the window onto a nearby field before driving back to the apartment where the police had just arrived following a hysterical telephone call by husband John. “Where is the missing penis?” officers demanded of her, and she described the dirt field where she had discarded it. Racing to the scene, the police miraculously found it, took it to a nearby convenience store where they placed it in an ice-filled “supersized” plastic cup and rushed it to a local hospital, where surgeons reattached it to John after a nine-hour operation.

The two Bobbitts were tried separately. Lorena, who was born in Ecuador and had spent her early years in Venezuela before migrating to the U.S., was judged to have been insane when she cut off John’s penis, served no jail time but underwent court-supervised psychiatric care. John, whom Lorena testified had raped and abused her before she cut off his penis and had conducted sexual liaisons with many other women during their marriage, was acquitted on all charges of marital sexual assault and left the courtroom a free man. The couple divorced a few years later.

During the TV show, Bobbitt said the surgery to reattach his penis went splendidly and that his sexual life is “normal now.” Six years ago, he said he had slept with at least 70 women since the surgeons returned his penis to its proper place after Lorena had cut it off.

In the years since that ghastly Virginia night in 1993 when Lorena wielded the kitchen knife, Bobbitt has held a multitude of jobs. He has starred in pornographic films, founded a band named “The Severed Parts,” worked as a bartender, pizza delivery man and tow truck driver, served as a Universal Life Church minister and married couples at a Nevada wedding chapel, and was arrested three times for beating up his second wife, Joanna, who later divorced him. He even appeared with Lorena (she has since remarried) on a TV show where he apologized to her for his abuse. “I still love her and send her birthday and Valentine’s Day cards every year,” he said.

In just two weeks, the Bobbitts will once again be in the news. The Amazon Video Network will air a four-part documentary beginning Feb. 15 titled “Lorena.” Amazon executives say the show will be a “groundbreaking investigation into the heart of this infamous scandal.”

We haven’t heard the last of the Bobbitts.

David C. Henley is publisher emeritus of the Lahontan Valley News and Fallon Eagle-Standard.