A Marine Corps family advocacy review committee that hears domestic violence cases determined that John Wayne Bobbitt physically abused his wife in late 1990, court documents show.
Attorneys for Lorena Bobbitt, who will go on trial Monday for cutting off her husband's penis, recently subpoenaed records from the Quantico Marine Base's Family Advocacy Case Review Committee. A document dated Dec. 21, 1990, states that the committee "has determined that this incident is established physical abuse of Mrs. Bobbitt by Lance Cpl. Bobbitt."
Defense attorneys may use the finding to try to show a pattern of abuse, which they have contended was the provocation that eventually led to Lorena Bobbitt's attack on her husband last June.
The Quantico committee also recommended that John Bobbitt attend 12 sessions of a men's support group offered at the Marine Corps's Family Service Center beginning in January 1991, and that his wife attend a dozen sessions of a women's support group.
Neither of the Bobbitts participated in those groups because he left the Marines on Jan. 1, 1991. Attorneys for both said their clients had never been notified of the committee's conclusions.
"My client never even knew she was supposed to attend the counseling sessions," said Blair Howard, a well-known criminal defense lawyer who joined Lorena Bobbitt's defense team about 2 1/2 weeks ago. "Nobody ever informed her."
Gregory Murphy, an attorney for John Bobbitt, said Bobbitt twice visited a priest about the matter. The 26-year-old bar bouncer has repeatedly denied abusing his wife. In November, he was acquitted of marital sexual assault for an alleged attack on June 23, 1993. That was the night Lorena Bobbitt severed her husband's penis.
The records from the Marine review committee, which can include social workers, doctors or nurses and base leaders, do not detail the incident in question. Lorena Bobbitt's attorney declined to elaborate, saying he wanted to review the documents to determine whether it was one or several incidents that led to the committee's findings.
Murphy, however, said the confrontation occurred on Thanksgiving day in 1990.
"She got in a fight with John over which TV show to watch and refused to serve him Thanksgiving dinner, and when he went outside, she locked him out," Murphy said. "He got back in through a back door and had to make his own food."
According to Murphy, Lorena Bobbitt became angry when her mother, who was staying at the couple's Manassas home, sided with her husband.
"Lorena . . . called the police and contended that John had been pushing her. When she got no response from the police, she later complained to the Marines, and the Marines said if you two aren't getting along, why not get some counseling," Murphy said.
Lorena Bobbitt faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of maliciously wounding her husband. During her husband's trial, the 24-year-old manicurist testified that she used a kitchen knife to sever his penis while he was sleeping.
She fled their apartment with the penis, which she later flung out her car window as she drove to her employer's house. Police recovered the penis and surgeons reattached it in a 9 1/2-hour operation.