This story is a composite based on some real events and some news stories. Insofar as it concerns me personally, it is fiction.
It’s based partly on a story I wrote twelve years ago and abandoned, only to be revived when Mike Nifong tried to fuck over the Duke players; but this story was NOT inspired by that case.
It is also NOT a stroke story.
Oh, and before you flame me: I received my JD from the University of Law and Order. Legal items are strictly my own invention.
I was arrested on a Friday morning.
It was an otherwise unremarkable morning, pleasant even for late December, though spending New Year’s Eve in jail was a little unusual.
Arraignment waited until Monday morning, which is when I learned I’d been charged with rape.
Of course I pled not guilty. I WAS not guilty.
That did not stop the throng of reporters and camerapersons (?) from descending on my innocent self, on the day school took back in, a day when I should have been in class teaching math to a horde of barely-interested high-schoolers.
I’d met only briefly with my attorney, a court-appointed fellow, pleasant enough but seemingly too young to have any legal acumen. He’d walked me through the arraignment process, and then through the bonding-out process, before hustling me out of the jail facility and into his waiting SUV.
My wife was barely speaking to me, convinced as she was I must be guilty. She hurled stinging invectives at me during the times we were together; I believe the word ‘divorce’ was uttered a time or ten.
Obviously the school district wanted nothing to do with me. While the young woman I was accused of having assaulted was not a student, and thus obviously not a student of mine, they wanted no part of having a lecher on their payroll. I was put on paid leave, with an eye to discontinuing my employment at the earliest opportunity.
I explained to my attorney how I was innocent, and did not know the young woman in question. I knew who she was, to be sure: her name was Becky, her family lived next door to mine, and her father Paul and I had had skirmishes over minor things, his dogging shitting in my yard, his guests throwing liquor bottles over the fence. Like that.
When I mentioned that, he frowned. How well, specifically, had I known the young woman?
She had said hello to me, my wife, or both, on a few occasions, I replied. Honestly, I should add.
My attorney frowned some more.
Three weeks later, my wife had me served with divorce papers; she moved in with her parents. My house was vandalized. I was officially dismissed from my job as a teacher.
I was twenty-seven; I’d lost everything, and was about to be convicted of a crime that could imprison me, given my health, for seventy years.
My life was out of control.
My trial was fast approaching: three days to go, six months since the allegations were made. My divorce was final; my wife had washed her hands of me, completely. Not even a claim on the house.
My attorney was parsing every word in the case file. “Can you add anything?” he asked.
I shook my head.
His look told me it was futile.
The trial had begun. The first three days were over; the “victim” had told her story, and it had been corroborated by a friend of hers, a little cunt named Sherry.
I was walking around my living room, my left knee giving me hell. I’d been injured playing football in high school, and while it was usually not a problem, stress brought out a bit of pain. I used a small cane to help me on those days.
Arthur, my attorney, said, “Please, do two things for me.”
“Name ‘em,” I said.
“First, tell me I’m not living in a fool’s paradise, that you really are innocent.”
I stopped, looked at him in disbelief; then realized it was his career, too. “Arthur,” I said, “I never touched the little bitch. What’s the second thing?”
“Second,” he said, “stop pacing around with that FUCKING CA...”
He had stopped, dead in his sentence. “Cane,” he finished softly.
He stared at my leg. He reached out and grabbed the cane. “Walk toward me,” he commanded.
“Old war wound?” he asked, looking me in the eyes.
“Football,” I replied, and told him the story.
A smile spread across his face. “Drop your trousers,” he said, gleefully.
“What?” I demanded.
“You heard me!” he said, sharply, a laugh in his voice. “Drop ‘em!”
I looked at him for a moment, then unbuckled my belt and dropped my pants.
Arthur grinned, leaned forward, and grabbed my calves, squeezing lightly; then repeated with my thighs.
“Arthur,” I said, “are you gay?”
“No,” he laughed, “we just won.”
The next day in court, the prosecution rested. Since the little bitch and her friend had testified against me, Arthur had the right to call either of them to the stand.
He called Sherry to the stand; she understood she was still under oath.
“You witnessed this alleged attack?” Arthur asked.
“Yes,” she said.
“Was my client clothed or dressed during the attack?” he barked.
Sherry looked a bit stunned; she looked at Becky, who looked at the prosecutor, who in turn frowned. The prosecutor, a young manhating woman, shook her head. There was no objection to be made.
Arthur said, “Don’t look at them, look at me. Dressed or naked?”
Sherry said, “Uh, he was partly naked.”
“PARTLY NAKED?” thundered Arthur.
“So he was PARTLY CLOTHED?” said Arthur.
“Uh, he, uh, yeah. Partly clothed,” finished Sherry, weakly.
“WHICH PART?”Arthur demanded.
Sherry was losing some tears at this point. “His bottom was naked,” she blubbered.
“No pants, but a shirt on?”
“You must answer out loud, young lady,” said the judge.
“Yes,” she said softly, “he’d removed his pants.”
“And you did NOTHING to stop him?” he demanded.
Another nod; another admonition, followed by, “I wish I had.”
“No more questions,” said Arthur, quietly, calmly.
Once Sherry was excused, lunch was called.
“What the fuck is THIS SHIT?” screamed the prosecutor. She was waving a sheaf of papers. “You’re calling the victim’s father to the stand?”
“Just a couple of questions,” said Arthur. We turned to walk away.
“What questions?” she bellowed.
Arthur flipped her off, and we walked on.
Paul, my erstwhile neighbor, had been called to the stand.
Arthur said, “You dislike my client.”
Paul hesitated. “Had better neighbors in my day, but no, I don’t dislike him. Not as such.”
Arthur whirled. “Did you make up a rape story with your daughter?”
Paul was taken aback. “No!” he said, “it happened just the way she said.”
“Ah, I see. So, you were there?” Arthur pressed.
“No! Of course not, just... whatever my daughter says, I believe her,” he finished weakly.
“Did you,” Arthur demanded, “tell her to lie? to say she’d been raped when she had not?”
Paul was apoplectic. “I did NO SUCH THING!” he screamed.
“No more questions,” Arthur said mildly.
There was some confusion as Paul was escorted from the witness stand, and Becky was called.
Arthur punched me lightly. “Watch this,” he whispered, “and for GOD’S SAKE, don’t react, no matter WHAT I say.”
I nodded; he grabbed a manila folder, stood, and approached the witness box.
“Hi, Becky,” he said in his most pleasant tone.
She looked around, a little confused. “Uh, hi,” she responded after some hesitation.
“Now, Becky,” he continued, his face becoming serious, “I suppose you heard Sherry’s testimony earlier...?”
She nodded. “Yes,” she said, after a look from the judge.
“And can you confirm what she said? That when my client allegedly raped you --”
“He DID,” she countered.
“When the alleged attack occurred,” he continued, “he was not wearing his pants. Correct?”
Becky nodded vigorously. “Yes,” she added.
“Okay, now we’ll ignore the fact that she was there, and did nothing to help you, and here I’m assuming she just watched...?”
Becky flushed, but said nothing.
“And just to be ABSOLUTELY CLEAR on this matter, you are stating, UNDER OATH, that my client raped you?”
Another nod. “Yes, he did.”
“Now, I’m holding in my hand,” he gestured with the folder, “a copy of the police report, to which BOTH of you girls contributed.” He opened the folder and began flipping through sheets nonchalantly. “I just find it curious that neither of you, in making this exceptionally detailed report, mentioned which of his legs is artificial.”
A strong murmur rippled through the courtroom; the judged gaveled for order.
Arthur held Becky’s very unhappy gaze. “So I thought I’d ask you now, since you claim to have seen this man,” he waved in my general direction, “without trousers, which leg is not flesh and bone?”
Becky’s lip started to tremble. “Uh...” she stammered, “uh...”
“Now Becky,” Arthur said, in his most pious tone, “you’ve been sworn to tell the truth, and you claim to have seen my client’s legs unclothed. If he was sufficiently close to rape you, don’t you think you’d remember a detail like that? I mean, if it’s even possible, given that kind of a disability?”
She nodded; a tear escaped from her left eye, but she said nothing.
Arthur looked at the judge imploringly.
“Young lady, you must answer the question,” he said.
“Uhmm... left, I think. Yeah, left,” she answered, her voice weak.
“You honor!” Arthur barked, “I move that all charges against my client be dismissed, and this young woman, her father and her friend be charged with perjury.”
The courtroom buzzed like a hive of hornets. The judge had to threaten to clear the court in order to restore.
Becky looked shellshocked; her father and Sherry looked sick.
Arthur was positively pontifical. “We’ve heard this young woman, under oath, say this man has an artificial leg,” he continued. “He has no such thing. She has just admitted she’s never seen him without pants, and thus he could NOT have raped her.”
Becky put her face in her hands. “Ogodogodogod,” she blubbered, “I’m so sorrrrry...” and she began wailing.
The judge ordered Becky, her father and Sherry held, cleared the courtroom, and brought us all into chambers.
“Now just what the HELL is this all about?” he thundered.
“I’ve just proven there was no rape, your honor,” Arthur said.
The judge looked at Paul, and said, in a quietly contemptuous voice, “Did you put these girls up to this damnable lie?”
He started to deny it, but the girls, already crying, were nodding and repeating, “Yes, he did,” over and over.
To say I experienced a reversal of fortune would be an understatement.
The charges were dismissed. The judge, in a highly controversial move, did a little forum shopping to find a TV station that would allow him to excoriate the other stations that had proclaimed my guilt without presenting my side. After that, all the TV stations wanted to mend fences with me, as did the local newspaper.
The manhating prosecutor was hauled before the ethics committee. She had done nothing even vaguely resembling due diligence in investigating the case. That she kept her license was a tribute to her own lawyer. She was dismissed from the DA’s office; these days, she sues over garbage-can denting, and the like.
Paul was charged with perjury and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Well, two minors, but there’s no such crime; it was two charges. He received seven years prison time.
Becky and Sherry pleaded out; in exchange for testifying against Paul, they received three years, suspended, six months active time, and five years probation.
It cost the girls more than that. Becky had received an offer of an academic scholarship, and Sherry was accepted at a very prestigious university. Both girls lost their slots in those universities, and had to settle for community college.
Not to pile insult onto injury, I sued Paul and his family, gaining, in the settlement, the title to their house and most of their possessions. I essentially destroyed their family. Well, even though I never had a problem with Paul’s wife, they had all brought the shitstorm on themselves.
My wife tried to make it up to me, and re-kindle the marriage. I told her to fuck herself with a creosote railroad tie.
I sued the school board, and despite their protestations, my new friends at the TV stations (and a cable news group) forced them to admit them fired a tenured teacher without cause. I settled for enough to ensure I don’t have to work again. Ever.
Arthur? He charged me not a penny more than I’d already paid him. The publicity alone, he assured me, would MORE than compensate him.
I suppose, if I could go back and somehow change things, I might do so. You know, if I had known I’d be charged with rape on this date at that time, I’d have made sure to stand somewhere very public and allow myself to be videotaped, far away from the scene of the alleged crime at the time it was supposed to have happened.
I mean, on the one hand, it would save my marriage, preserve my job, and avoid all manner of shit I’ve endured in the last two years.
On the other hand, there’s a beautiful twenty-nine year old divorcée in the next room, one with whom I’ve been making sweet love for the last six months. She’s a little pregnant (har) and a little grumpy; she’s waiting for me to improve her mood.
In fact, I hear her calling now.
Catch ya later.