Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Case # 08WF2001
Septemeber 9, 2011
Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
ACTOR SENTENCED TO LIFE IN PRISON FOR 1990 CHRISTMAS EVE GANG RAPE OF WOMAN WHO WAS WALKING HER DOG
SANTA ANA – An actor was sentenced today to life in state prison with the possibility of parole for the 1990 Christmas Eve gang rape of a woman who was out walking her dog. Joseph Hyungmin Son, 40, was found guilty by a jury Aug. 25, 2011, of one felony count of torture. Son was charged Oct. 1, 2008, with numerous felony counts of sexual offenses, but the People determined that these charges could not be pursued at trial because the statute of limitations had run.
Co-defendant Santiago Lopez Gaitan, 40, San Antonio, TX, pleaded guilty Jan. 14, 2011, to one felony count each of kidnapping, sodomy by force in concert, rape in concert, forcible oral copulation, and forcible rape with a sentencing enhancement for committing rape while armed with a firearm. He was sentenced Jan. 28, 2011, to 17 years and four months in state prison.
On Dec. 24, 1990, at about 12:30 a.m., Jane Doe was walking back to her apartment alone with her dog after going to look at Christmas lights with a relative and friend. As she was walking with her purse and her dog in hand, Son distracted Jane Doe by asking for directions and pretending he was lost. Son and Gaitan forcibly dragged Jane Doe to their car, threw her in the back, and drove away. Jane Doe’s purse was later retrieved at the scene, but her dog was never found.
While driving to Huntington Beach, Son and Gaitan told her they were driving to Compton, pistol whipped her, and threatened to kill her repeatedly. Son repeatedly raped, sodomized, and forced Jane Doe to orally copulate him in the back of the car. He also penetrated her vagina with a firearm. Gaitan raped Jane Doe and forced her to orally copulate him. Son threatened to kill the victim and counted the bullets in the gun out loud, as Jane Doe pleaded for her life.
Son and Gaitan finally allowed Jane Doe to leave, naked and with her pants tied around her eyes. Jane Doe went to a nearby home and the homeowners called the police. Jane Doe suffered great physical injuries as a result of the sexual assault. The police collected evidence from Jane Doe and the original crime scene. The case was investigated but went cold.
Son pleaded guilty to felony vandalism on May 16, 2008, and was sentenced to 60 days in Orange County Jail and placed on probation. On Aug. 18, 2008, he was taken into custody and given an additional 90 days on a probation violation for failing to report to the Department of Probation and keep them informed of his current residence. As a condition of his original plea, Son was required to provide a DNA sample. Son’s DNA sample provided in 2008 was linked to DNA collected at the scene and from Jane Doe in 1990. Son was arrested at Theo Lacy Facility Oct. 7, 2008, on a warrant by Huntington Beach Police Department detectives.
Son was an actor known for his role as henchman “Random Task” in the 1997 movie Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.
At the sentencing today, the victim gave an impact statement to the court, “The post traumatic stress disorder is with me daily as I have triggers that set me off. I feel debilitating fear come over me and am convinced a hand is coming from behind again. My emotional scars are intense. My twenties were stripped from my life as I relearned how to walk, see, hear and cope with the outside world again. Joseph Son not only cost me my job at my salon but also my college savings... not to mention the impact it’s made on celebrating Christmas year after year.”
Deputy District Attorney Eric Scarbrough of the Sexual Assault Unit prosecuted this case.