Subjects Too Painful to Write About

Memorandum

To: Myself
Re: Subjects too painful to write about
Date: Now

I made the decision to write a violent rape scene in Blame because bringing the reality of the street, as it appeared in my courtroom, to my readers is what my books are all about. Rape in all its forms is the single dominant violent crime in this country — and in the world! The numbers of women assaulted by strangers, soldiers, police, boyfriends, relatives, baby-sitters and husbands are staggering. A small fraction is reported and those are usually instances where the ancillary injuries are too severe to ignore. Fewer still are the number of rapes prosecuted.

rape-1I remember the case of an eighteen year old who took the stand in my courtroom hoping to recant her accusation of rape against her stepfather. The defense attorney reached up to place a letter from the girl denying that the crime had occurred. (A physician’s report had documented the searing tears to the girl’s vaginal wall, the bruising of her bladder, and the herpes infection she would have for life as a reminder of the encounter).

I was having difficulty breathing, so great was my growing sense of rage. There was little recourse available to me and I watched the prosecutor shrug his shoulders as he stood to question the girl. Would he compound the assault by his cross-examination? I wasn’t about to wait for that to happen.

“Ms. X,” I said, turning toward her in the witness box, “would you please read your letter aloud so that everyone here in the courtroom will understand your decision to withdraw your complaint against the defendant?” I handed the letter to my bailiff who passed it to Ms. X.

There was silence in the courtroom. We waited as the girl stared at the slightly rumpled paper in her shaking hand.

“Ms. X, can you read?”

“Not so good,” she replied. “Leastwise, not some of these words.”

causes-of-rape-graphIt was high drama as I denied the motion to dismiss the case and ordered the defense attorney to appear and show cause why he should not be held in contempt of court for presenting a clearly fraudulent document.

So, I wrote the rape scene in Blame and, at times, I felt the physical and psychological pain of the victim in the telling. I’d like to avoid these scenes and I consider from time to time switching genres to write about romance or, perhaps, inspirational stories.

This is on my mind because the case on which Blame was loosely based is about to go to trial here in West Palm Beach. It is a case I expected would have been concluded years ago. It is a tragedy in progress, a subject too painful to write about. I cannot write the ending as I did in Blame.

90percent rape graphic-1024x631

 

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