As many of you know, I've been a prosecutor for 22 years. The majority of my experience has been in handling child abuse of all kinds, sexual assault, and other person felonies. Here's what I know.
The vast majority of sexual assaults are never reported.
Earlier this year, I was in a jury trial with a defendant who had sexually abused his granddaughters. They didn't report their abuse for between 4 and 8 years. They did report. This is actually the exception, not the rule.
During jury selection, two of the prospective jurors told the entire panel that they had been the victims of child sexual abuse. For at least one of them, a woman who could fairly be called elderly, this was the first time she had spoken of it. She cried telling us of something that had happened more than half of a century earlier.
This is a common element of trying a sexual abuse/sexual assault case. Jurors, attempting to be so honest, so full of integrity, are placed in a position where they are asked to disclose things that they have never been able to tell anyone. Not their parents, not their spouses, not their children. And because they are such fucking amazing human beings, they spill their secrets to a room full of strangers. And they weep.
I have reviewed hundreds, maybe thousands, or sexual assault reports. I've handled hundreds to conclusion. I've had many more than that I couldn't prosecute because the evidence was insufficient to meet the extremely high burden of proof demanded by a criminal case. I can count on one hand the number of victims that I believed were lying. The fact that a case cannot be prosecuted does not mean that no sexual assault occurred.
Every trained law enforcement officer that you ever speak to will tell you that rape is underreported. Every trained prosecutor that you ever speak to will tell you that rape is underreported.
Here's what has happened to me.
When I was eight, I was walking home with a group of friends. A man stepped in front of us and masturbated, asking us to touch it. We ran.
When I was fourteen, a classmate assaulted me in the vestibule between the two doors into our school darkroom. He shoved me against the wall and groped my body from my breasts to my vagina, while hissing into my ear that I liked it. I can still feel the heat of his breath on my neck. I pushed him away and fled, and I can remember the sound of his laughter as I ran. For the next four years, every time I saw him, I felt like throwing up. I was afraid that he would tell people what he had done, not because I was afraid he would do it again, but because they would call me a slut. I hated him with incandescent fury because he humiliated me and I was powerless. I have seen him at every reunion. I'm not interested in rehashing the past, and I sincerely doubt that he even remembers doing it.
When I was sixteen, I was riding my bike on a semi-rural road in my hometown. A truck full of young men slapped me on my ass as they drove by at 40 miles an hour. It's a miracle I didn't die. When I crashed my bike, they laughed and jeered as the truck sped away.
When I was eighteen, I was on a trip to Europe riding public transportation in a city that I do not even remember. A man rubbed his penis against my clothed ass until he ejaculated. I didn't realize this until I got off the bus and felt something wet on my backside. After I touched it, I realized that it must be semen. I was not sexually active, so this was a conclusion drawn without actual personal knowledge of what semen would look like.
When I was 20, I was a student at the University of Utah. A man in my French class asked me on a date. I declined, politely. He stalked me for two weeks, terrorizing me. When I finally confronted him about it, crying, he shrugged, told me he wanted to scare me, called me a bitch and walked away. I have never seen him again. I don't remember his name.
These are my stories. And here is the thing, every woman who was ever a young woman has these stories. You, each of you, have your own. They don't define us, but they also are real and true and we know that they happened.
I have spent the last five days in a state of incandescent rage at the treatment of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. At the end of the day, to this society and this culture, we are all just livestock.