Joseph Hyungmin Son, better known as Joe Son, on Friday
was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole for
the 1990 gang rape of a woman walking her dog on Christmas Eve.
According to a
press release issued by the Orange County District Attorney,
Son, 40, was convicted on one felony count of torture on Aug. 25.
The former fighter had been charged with numerous felony counts of
sexual offenses on Oct. 1, 2008, but the charges were not pursued,
as the statute of limitations had run out.
Son was identified by a DNA sample he provided as part of a plea
during a May 2008 arrest for felony vandalism. Son’s DNA sample was
linked to a DNA sample collected from the victim in 1990, and Son
was arrested on Oct. 7, 2008 by Huntington Beach Police Department
As outlined in the district attorney’s release, Son -- along with
co-defendant Santiago Lopez Gaitan, 40, of San Antonio -- abducted
the victim at approximately 12:30 a.m. on Dec. 24, 1990, forcing
her into their vehicle and driving away. While holding the victim
at gunpoint and threatening to kill her repeatedly, Son “repeatedly
raped, sodomized and forced [the victim] to orally copulate him in
the back of the car. He also penetrated her vagina with a firearm.”
According to the release, Gaitlan also raped the victim and forced
her to orally copulate him.
As stated in the release, the victim gave a statement to the
“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.”
Son is likely best known to mixed martial arts followers as the
stocky inventor of Joe Son Do who
competed at UFC 4, submitting to a choke following repeated groin
strikes courtesy of kenpo karate stylist Keith Hackney
in 1994. Son never won a sanctioned MMA fight, going 0-4 as a
professional. He retired in 2002. Son also held a career as an
actor, most notably appearing in the 1997 comedy “Austin
Powers: International Man of Mystery.”