In June 2016, a story published by News 4 KTLA about a rapist getting his penis cut off started to appear around social media and in our inbox. It had all the elements of a potentially viral story — dealing as it did with instant, satisfying, and permanent comeuppance for violently criminal behavior:
A New York woman is thanking the makers of an anti-rape device saying that it “saved her from being raped and brutally assaulted.” Michelle Kingston says she was walking home from work in the afternoon on Sunday when a man jumped out of a side alley and grabbed her. “I couldn’t scream, it happened so quick. He put his hand over my mouth and threatened me with a knife. I stayed calm and complied knowing he was about to get the karma he deserved.”
The ‘Karma’ that Kingston describes is a device that was purchased for her by her grandfather. “I wanted my granddaughter to be safe, so I purchased this anti-rape device for her,” said Mitchell Kingston, the grandfather. “She fussed about it, but finally gave in. She’s gorgeous and only 18 and I don’t want her to be taken advantage of or assaulted. She walks to and from work every day in the city, and rapes happen multiple times per day. That punk got would he deserved.”
According to Kingston, the minute he penetrated his victim, the device sliced his genitals with 6 razors in one clean sweep. Then, the device slices down one more time on its way out. The perpetrator fell to the ground screaming in agony, which gave Kingston the time to run and call police on her cell phone. The man, 38-year-old Ronald Steadway, was transported to a nearby hospital where his penis had to be surgically removed.
News 4 KTLA, however, publishes only hoax and “satire” news (despite posing as a legitimate Los Angeles-area news outlet, KTLA), and this story contains no truth. Among articles the page has published is another revenge story about a woman cutting off her rapist’s genitals and forcing him to eat them, and that Dasani-brand bottled water was being recalled because it harbored a “clear parasite“.
The photographs of the anti-rape device are real — in a sense. They show the prototype of a device (called RapeX, and then later, Rape-aXe) that is supposed to shred the rapist’s penis on entry, thereby preventing sexual assault, or at least curtailing rapes in progress:
Nothing has ever been done to help a woman so that she does not get raped and I thought it was high time,” Sonette Ehlers, 57, said of the “rapex”, a device worn like a tampon that has sparked controversy in a country used to daily reports of violent crime.
Ehlers said the “rapex” hooks onto the rapist’s skin, allowing the victim time to escape and helping to identify perpetrators.
“He will obviously be too preoccupied at this stage,” she told reporters. “I promise you he is going to be too sore. He will go straight to hospital.”
However, we’ve been unable to find any indication that it has ever been marketed to the public, despite much media coverage since 2003 when it was announced as going into production, and a web site that promises that production is “six months away from being finalised”.