My week was much different than I anticipated.
My youngest daughter, who is 30, is living with me for now. Her partner, Julia, also lives here. Julia is technically married to someone else – a Brazilian man. Welcome to 2022 – where families and relationships look different…
The husband (Lohan) was accused of “Rape” of a previous wife 6+ years ago and had to go to trial this week. Julia needed moral and emotional support and my daughter had to work, so I went with her. At first, I had just planned to go the first day and help ease her over the jitters of the courtroom and learn the lay of the land. I ended up going to the entire trial. A real, live, telenovela.
I had only met him once – we had him over for Thanksgiving in the middle of the pandemic and he and the girls ate on the porch. He is a musician, has stage 4 cancer, and speaks in broken English. He has no family in this country and his parents died when he was a child. He felt like he needed support in the courtroom also. I didn’t ask him anything about what had transpired – I figured I would listen to the evidence along with the jury.
There was a time – long, long ago, when I really wanted to be an attorney. I took some law classes at Brandeis before deciding I should focus on work and go to school later – once I had earned the money to go. Of course, life started, and I never went back. I considered going back to school and pursuing a law career when I was in my forties – but my stepfather told me it was too late. (I should not have listened to him… I have a very logical, analytical mind… I would have made a good attorney). I realized this week I felt very at home in the courtroom. I really should have gone that direction. That would have been my alternate reality if we could go back in time and change a choice.
I listened to the testimony. I listened with an open mind. No bias. Really, I don’t know either party. It was a convoluted tale… the accuser didn’t remember very basic things – like when she moved in with her future husband, or when she got married. It was clear to me she was and is a rather emotionally unstable person. She got married December 3rd 2015, after living with the man for about 6 months. A couple weeks later, she found out she was pregnant. They went skiing a month later. She testified that after finding out she was pregnant; she was considering leaving her husband and being a “single mom”. She testified she had checked into what state said she might be eligible for as a single mother.On the ski trip, the husband injured his knee and ended up on crutches with torn ligaments. A couple days after skiing. She miscarried. She miscarried around February 3rd. When she started bleeding, she got in a warm tub (not smart) which of course made her bleed more, and her husband ended up calling an ambulance. She stayed in the hospital overnight (taking selfies). They were both distraught about losing the pregnancy – particularly him because he had previously been told he was infertile.
As Valentine’s Day approached, she bought lingerie for the holiday, and they talked about if they should try to go out of town and planned romance. The day before Valentine’s Day they decided to take a walk along the waterfront. He was still recovering from the knee injury, but the walking path was a sidewalk and not difficult. He decided it was fine and made his wife happy. After the Marina walk, she wanted alcohol. He suggested they go to a bar that had an arcade. He usually did not drink, and he could play games and she could have a drink. She said she preferred to go home. They stopped at the store on the way home and purchased a bottle of vodka, ice cream, chocolate and whipped cream. They went home and played a board game in their bedroom (they had roommates and preferred to be in their room). She testified that he did not normally drink and she had never seen him drunk. They at some point changed the board game to be a drinking game. Each round the loser had to do a shot. Then they changed the board game to be a sex game. The loser would have to perform oral sex on the other if they lost. At one point the man did not want to drink more and she got upset with him and started trying to force him to drink – telling him “Drink don’t be a pussy Bitch” and trying to force vodka into his mouth. She indicated she did not remember saying that, but that it sounded like something she would say being playful. She offered to put on the lingerie she had purchased, and he indicated they didn’t need to do that right now. At some point they ended up naked on the bed. Here is where things get complicated… she says although she was naked, and at one point on top of him, and clearly drunk because she does not recall how their clothes came off… she says at one point she told him “No” and then told him “No” a few more times when they were kissing and fondling one another. She testified he entered her while on top of her with one hand on her mouth and one hand on her throat. She said she turned her head and got emotional. At which point he stopped, and they argued. He says, he was confused by her as sometimes she said “No” in passion and her body language indicated this was one of those times. When he started to withdraw, she wrapped her legs around him and locked her ankles. He denies having his hands on her mouth and throat as he had to hold his own body weight and with the injured knee had to avoid hurting it further. When she turned her head and became emotional, the sex stopped.
They had consumed a lot of alcohol, and both were distraught about the lost child. She said the doctor had told them “No vaginal sex for two weeks”. He said he never was aware of that. (It had been 10 days) She said she straightened and locked her legs when she said “No”. He said she wrapped them around him and pulled him back while moaning. She said she pushed against his chest. He said she had her hands on his back, pulling him in. He said she often played this way and “No didn’t always mean No with her”. After the encounter stopped, they argued a bit – he did put his hand on her mouth when she was yelling at him – concerned it would disturb the other residents because it was very late, then he left the house for a few hours, and she took a selfie and went to sleep. The next day she moved out. Two weeks later she had lunch with a male friend and told him she was raped. He encouraged her to report it and took her to the hospital for an exam (seems dumb that much later) and also took her to file a police report. She had not mentioned it to anyone else – including her brother whom she had moved in with after leaving and who had picked her and her things up the day she left. The police went to the house to interview the husband, without an interpreter, took a statement and filed it.
When the officer testified, he indicated he felt it was just a misunderstanding between the married people. There was no real evidence of an assault. The doctor who did the rape exam also indicated there was no evidence visible to him – no bruising, etc. The husband had no idea what an official “statement” was, did not know he should probably get legal counsel, and had limited English (it was his third language). His lack of detail offered in his statement was used against him. The officer had not asked for a blow by blow description of their sexual encounter the court had required. Most of the questions asked of the accuser were answered with “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember”. The questions answered by the accused were more comprehensive and seemed thoughtful and that he basically did whatever would make his wife happy. A roommate testified she heard laughter and music as well as the accuser telling him to “Drink – don’t be a pussy Bitch”. A month after filing charges, she cancelled them. She told the police via email that she no longer wanted to pursue the matter. They had the marriage annulled.
A year later, when his new wife texted to inquire if they could retrieve the guitar his father had given him that she had taken. She decided to re-file or re-activate the charges because she “could not believe they had the nerve to contact her” she stated. Meanwhile, she has received free therapy as a “crime victim” from the state since filing charges, which she testified she really likes.
The jury was given instructions – including not to take the attorney’s closing statements as evidence of any kind. The prosecutor had made statements that were nowhere in any of the testimony or evidence – which were objected to. The charges were either Rape 2 (with force), Rape 3 (without consent) and if either were deemed to be “Guilty” then the special ballot would need to be answered “Yes” or “No” of the question of if the two people involved were residing in the same household (automatic domestic violence). The jury deliberated a few hours. I was quite confident, based on what I heard with my own ears and the demeaner or both of the parties, the verdict would be “Not guilty”. I was wrong. They decided “Guilty” on Rape 3 with the automatic DV because they were spouses at the time of the incident. He was immediately remanded into custody and taken to jail, and they won’t even meet to discuss the sentence for more than a month. I wish I had been in the jury room, because they did not reach the same conclusions I did… I did feel like the defense attorney did not do a great job on part of his closing statement – but there was so much reasonable doubt for an actual crime I wasn’t concerned.
I do understand over recent years consent has become a real hot issue, but as with many things sometimes the scale gets out of whack the other way for a while before balancing out. One thing his current wife told me after the verdict was that many times, he actually told his former wife “No” because of not feeling well because of his cancer, and she proceeded to give him oral anyway and make him change his mind to meet her desires. That maybe should have been included in the testimony to give additional context to their sex life. I feel like he would have received a more fair trial if he spoke more English and didn’t need a Portuguese interpreter. I can’t shake the feeling she just wanted to be vindictive and is just not a very nice person – and taking advantage of state offered free things.
I have no investment in who wins or loses – emotionally or otherwise. I feel like I was just an observer. And I feel a little dismayed by the whole thing. I don’t think it was correct in its outcome. I enjoyed all the legal machinations – the interactions, the rules. I was disappointed at some of the trickery used by the prosecution – especially when used in a way to confuse a person whose first language is not English (the trickery would have confused anyone – but particularly someone with an interpreter). The court appointed defense attorneys were sad about the verdict. They indicated he could appeal. In all reality – it could take years… he will most likely die of his cancer first. Once his sentence – however long it ends up being – is over, he will be deported.
Julia is brokenhearted about it. At least I was there for her… which feels supportive of our current household situation (although I would love for them to be on their own… I don’t really need to be living with an adult couple!). I would not be surprised if we end up with his dog… which will not make our current dogs very happy.
Time to get my nose back to my own grindstone…