Joe Son and Mike Whitehead Rape Trials Both Start This Week

Son and Whitehead

This isn’t a good week to be a former UFC fighter charged with rape.

By Friday the trials of Joe Son and Mike Whitehead will both be underway.

Son, 39, who fought at UFC 4 and PRIDE The Best Volume 1 and 2 and who also played Random Task in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery stands charged in Orange County, California with the horrific kidnapping and rape of a then-20 year old woman on Christmas eve 1990. During the attack, which took place at gunpoint, Son is alleged to have sexually assaulted the woman with the barrel of a loaded handgun before brutally and repeatedly raping her. Court documents show that Son and his accomplice, who was identified in 2009 as Santiago Gaitan, pushed the half-naked, beaten and battered victim out of the car she had been tortured in for several hours, telling her that her release was “their Christmas present to her.”

Police matched DNA taken from Son in 2008 on their criminal registry after he was arrested for an unrelated parole violation charge for vandalism to samples taken during a rape examination of the victim in the 1990 assault.

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He was originally charged with five counts of rape, two felony counts of forcible sodomy, two felony counts of sodomy in concert by force, seven felony counts of forcible oral copulation, and one felony count of sexual penetration by foreign object by force, but due to a successful statute of limitations appeal launched by his lawyer, those charges were dropped and he will instead be facing charges of conspiracy to commit murder and torture. Jury selection in the case began Tuesday and the trial is expected to end next week. Both charges carry a maximum life sentence, however Son’s co-accused, Gaitan, received only 17 years, four months for his part in the attack following a trial in January.

The conspiracy to commit murder charge will be a tough one to prove as it’s likely that the prosecutor will be reliant upon testimony or sworn statements from the co-accused that he and Son had agreed to kill the victim. It’s likely that Son’s defense will argue that they never agreed to murder her and that by letting her go, they proved that was never their intent.

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The preliminary hearing for Mike Whitehead’s sex assault trial will begin Friday morning.

Whitehead is accused of two charges of sexual assault and one charge of gross indecency stemming from an April 2009 incident in which “Iron Mike” allegedly sexually assaulted a woman in his home in the southwest Las Vegas Valley following a barbecue he had at the house.

While executing a search warrant on Whitehead’s home, police discovered a marijuana grow-op, but have surprisingly opted not to lay charges apart from the sexual assault and gross indecency ones.

The woman who filed two of three charges against him told police that she and a friend had gone to Whitehead’s home for the barbecue and after both of them got tipsy, they accepted the former TUF contestant’s invitation to spend the night and his offer to take his bed.

She said she woke up with her pants down and to Whitehead having sex with her in the bed. Although she repeatedly demanded that he stop, she says that he didn’t “for about three minutes,” according to the police report.

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While he was having sex with the first victim, the second victim, who says she witnessed the whole incident, alleges that Whitehead also groped her.

After the incident, the victims said Whitehead got up, sat in a chair in the corner of his bedroom and stared at them, Blue Velvet style.

Last year Whitehead’s defense told the judge at a scheduled hearing that the former Xtreme Couture trainer missed, that they had come to a plea agreement with prosecutors and that the case should be resolved in the next few months, however the deal fell through for undisclosed reasons and the preliminary hearing was set for Friday, August 19 at 9:00 am in Clark County court.

In Nevada, sexual assault carries a maximum life sentence and mandatory inclusion in the national sex registry database.