true crime

Remembering the case of Marc Evonitz…

The featured photo is a screenshot of Richard Marc Edward Evonitz, a rapist, murderer, and coward who is no longer around to hurt people.

In early summer 2002, I was newly graduated from the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina. Bill and I were engaged to be married. He was working at the Pentagon. I was looking for a job.

We had just moved to Fredericksburg, Virginia. Why Fredericksburg? Because it’s a cute town, and because it reasonably offered me the chance to access work in Richmond, Northern Virginia, or Fredericksburg, itself. Also, Bill found a two bedroom apartment owned by the same (slumlord) apartment company that owned the building where he had been living in a studio apartment in Alexandria, Virginia. I think the rent in Fredericksburg was only marginally higher, and the complex offered more amenities.

So there we were in the summer of 2002. We were broke, but excited about our upcoming wedding. We had a new dog, a blue-eyed beagle/husky mix named CuCullain (C.C.). I was hopeful about the future, even if living in that apartment made me miserable. I’m definitely not cut out for communal living.

As I wrote cover letters and printed resumes, which I would then circulate, I watched a lot of TV– especially the news. During that summer, there was a true crime case that really intrigued me. It involved a man named Richard Marc Edward Evonitz.

Richard Marc Edward Evonitz is now long dead. He died by his own hand on June 27, 2002, at 38 years old. Looking back on it, Evonitz was probably smart to kill himself. He was not destined to enjoy the rest of his life. He had finally been caught, and if he hadn’t committed suicide surrounded by cops, he might have wound up on death row.

A true crime documentary about Richard Marc Evonitz’s crimes.

I remember hearing about this case when it happened, thinking it was so surreal that Evonitz and I had basically been in the same places within weeks of each other. I don’t think I would have been the type of victim he was hunting for, since all of his victims were teenaged girls. Still, I remember being really freaked out by this story. I’ve never forgotten this case after all of these years, mainly because I lived in the same places Evonitz did within weeks of his final criminal act.

Richard Marc Edward Evonitz was born and raised near Columbia, South Carolina, which was where I had lived from August 1999 until May 2002. He was born at Providence Hospital, a Catholic owned hospital in a part of Columbia near where I had done an internship. I used to drive past that hospital when I went to my social work field placement during my last semester at the university.

Known as Marc to avoid confusion with an uncle named Richard, Evonitz grew up as the oldest sibling in his family. He had two younger sisters, Kristen and Jennifer. He graduated from Irmo High School in 1980. I know where Irmo High School is. It’s not far from the university, either.

After he finished high school, Evonitz worked for Jiffy Lube for a time, then went on to join the United States Navy. He spent eight honorable years serving in the Navy, then left military service. He married twice, first to a woman named Bonnie Lou Gower, from whom he was divorced in 1996. Then in 1999, he married Hope Marie Crowley, and they were still wed at the time of his death in 2002.

There I was, back in the summer of 2002, living in Fredericksburg, Virginia, having just moved from Columbia, South Carolina, hearing about Marc Evonitz’s last crime on the news. Evonitz was of special interest in the Fredericksburg area. It turned out that he had kidnapped and murdered at least three teenaged girls who lived in Spotsylvania County, very close to the Fredericksburg area, during the 1990s. He is also suspected of a 1994 rape and abduction and a 1995 rape in Massaponax, Virginia, which is also very close to Fredericksburg.

But as of June 2002, when Evonitz died by suicide, no one knew that he was guilty of those crimes that had taken place in Virginia. At that point in time, it wasn’t known who had abducted, raped, and murdered 16 year old Sofia Silva on September 9, 1996. The May 1, 1997 rapes, abductions, and murders of 15 year old Kristin and 12 year old Kati Lisk were also unsolved. Authorities had been searching for clues for years, but they kept coming up empty handed. It took the actions of a brave and clever 15 year old girl– Evonitz’s last victim– to finally solve those crimes.

On June 24, 2002, Evonitz abducted 15 year old Kara Robinson. She had been in her friend’s front yard, minding her own business, just as the girls Evonitz abducted and murdered in Virginia had been. Evonitz approached Kara, friendly at first, offering her magazines. Then he brandished a handgun and forced her into a Rubbermaid container in the trunk of his car. He bound her hands and feet and gagged her, warning her not to scream. The whole time, Kara was paying close attention to everything. She was hyperaware of everything she was seeing, hearing, and feeling as they traveled to the apartment where Evonitz lived.

Evonitz took Kara inside his apartment, raped her, and tied her to his bed. She noticed the names on his mail, the red hair in his wife’s hairbrush, and the magnets on the refrigerator. She even thought to talk to Evonitz, and later described him as “cordial”. Prior to going to bed, Evonitz made Kara smoke marijuana with him, and gave her a Valium. While Evonitz slept, Kara managed to free herself, using her teeth. She fled the apartment in bare feet, still wearing fuzzy blue handcuffs, and went to the police, where she was able to identify Evonitz. Kara says that the police were initially kind of skeptical, but they finally called her mother. The deputies took Kara back to the scene of the crime before they took her to the hospital.

Upon discovering that his captive had escaped, Evonitz took off, eventually ending up in Sarasota, Florida, where his dash for freedom was ended by the police. As the cops surrounded him, demanding that he surrender, Evonitz cowardly opted to end his life. He put his handgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.

Police searched Evonitz’s apartment, and soon found “trophies” that Evonitz had collected– evidence that Kara had not been his first and only victim. Richland County police officers discovered clues that would finally shed light on crimes Evonitz had perpetrated in Spotsylvania, Virginia in the 1990s… crimes that, in June 2002, had not been solved.

After Evonitz died, the police analyzed what was left of his life. In the course of their investigation, police found that Richard Marc Edward Evonitz’s hair matched hair that was found on the bodies of Sofia Silva and Kristin and Kati Lisk. They also found blue acrylic fibers from the “fuzzy handcuffs” that Evonitz owned, that matched fibers found on the three victims from Virginia. And then, five years after Kristin Lisk’s death, investigators found her fingerprints and a palm print in the trunk of Evonitz’s car. Finally, the families of those young victims could rest assured that the man who killed their daughters would never have the chance to hurt anyone else.

I remember seeing a news report about this case soon after Evonitz killed himself. Kara Robinson was interviewed at the time, and I remember hearing her say something along the lines of “Picking me was the dumbest thing Marc Evonitz ever did.” She sounded so tough and defiant. I was astonished by her bravery and ability to keep her wits about her. She was just fifteen years old at the time. I remember what I was like at that age… and I am just flabbergasted by how amazingly brave and strong she was… and apparently still is. YouTube tells me that Kara now thrives in a law enforcement career.

Here’s a somewhat recent interview of Kara Robinson Chamberlain. She is interviewed by Elizabeth Smart, who was also famously kidnapped in June of 2002, and also managed to survive her ordeal.

Actually now that I think about it, 2002 was a terrible year for abductions. I remember there was a lot of news about girls being abducted and murdered all across the country. Elizabeth Smart probably had the highest profile case, as she was abducted in June 2002, at just 14 years old. That summer, there were so many tragic and horrifying cases of girls being victimized.

That was also around the time of the Beltway Sniper case, which also had strong ties to Fredericksburg, as a couple of people were murdered there. I remember how Bill would never let me walk behind him during that scary time in October 2002, as the snipers had been randomly shooting people at gas stations up and down the I-95 corridor, seemingly without any rhyme or reason. We actually lived a couple of miles from a mall and a gas station where people were shot on different occasions. It was terrifying, and went on for a couple of weeks before the killers were finally captured.

Looking back on our brief time in Fredericksburg– a town that is about 90 miles from where I had grown up, and had always regarded as a really cute place– now makes me think of criminal behavior. That area is also near where Erin McCay George committed murder when she shot her husband for insurance money in 2001. I went to college with Erin, and was there when she embezzled money from our alma mater.

We also lived in Fredericksburg at around the time Erika and Benjamin Sifrit committed their crimes in Ocean City, Maryland. The Sifrits had ties to Fredericksburg, because Erika had gone to college at Mary Washington College (now known was the University of Mary Washington). They committed two very bloody murders just fifteen days after Bill and I moved to Fredericksburg, and their story was all over the news in Fredericksburg at that time.

Kara Robinson Chamberlain went on to become a police officer in Columbia, South Carolina. Below is a video of Kara speaking in Fredericksburg, Virginia, a community that is no doubt so grateful to her for helping to solve the cases of Sofia Silvia and Kristin and Kati Lisk. She truly is a heroine in every sense of the word.

What an amazing, brave, young lady she was, and still is.

I still think it’s so weird, how close I’ve been to some pretty horrifying true crime cases. After my car was broken into at our crappy apartment complex in Fredericksburg, and we had a brush with a creepy guy who was going door to door, casing the area, I started paying a lot more attention to the crime statistics in Fredericksburg. I discovered that the apartment complex where we lived was a hotbed of criminal activity ranging from drug busts to rapes.

I feel pretty fortunate that I managed to escape living there having only had my window busted in my car, as some lowlife thieves tried and failed to steal my aftermarket CD player. We moved not long after that happened. I see that now, the Fredericksburg Police Department has an office next to the complex where we used to live. It’s probably a good place for them to be, given the historically high crime rate in that neighborhood. Looking on Google Maps, I can see that where there used to a big field where I walked C.C., there’s now a landscaped road leading to the police station. The boulevard running past the complex is now a four lane highway. It had been a two lane road when we were there.

I’ve often thought that in another life, I might have been a true crime writer… and now I’m so grateful to live in Germany, which has its crime issues, but none as dramatic as those in Fredericksburg. I’ll never again think of it as a quaint, picturesque town.

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ethics, healthcare, law, politicians, politics

Greg Abbott says he’s gonna “eliminate all rapists”…

Sigh… those of you who regularly read my blog may be curious to know why I’ve been reposting so many book reviews over the past couple of days. Well, it’s mainly because I suspect there are people who would like to read something besides more kvetching about politicians. Or… maybe I am just tired of writing about power hungry white men who are bound and determined to oppress women. And I am TIRED of writing about abortion, but right now, it’s just too fertile a field.

Greg Abbott, the current governor of Texas, has been in the news a lot lately, mainly because he’s championed an oppressive and creepy anti-abortion law. But yesterday, he was in the news for something else he said that is very controversial. A reporter asked Mr. Abbott, “Why force a rape or incest victim to carry a pregnancy to term?”

And Abbott, whom I assume has never been pregnant himself, responded. “It doesn’t require that at all,” Abbott said of the law, “because, obviously, it provides at least six weeks for a person to be able to get an abortion.”

Greg Abbott then said, “Rape is a crime, and Texas will work tirelessly to make sure that we eliminate all rapists from the streets of Texas by aggressively going out and arresting them and prosecuting them and getting them off the streets.”

Well… I’m glad to hear that. However, I have some problems with Mr. Abbott’s comments. First of all, his comment suggests that rapists are “out on the street” and need to be picked up by the police. The fact is, a lot of people are raped by folks who live in their own homes or neighborhoods, not strangers hiding in the bushes.

Secondly, Mr. Abbott doesn’t seem to realize that a lot of people don’t know they’re pregnant until after that six week mark. The number of weeks in a pregnancy are determined from the date of a woman’s last menstrual period. So, in many cases, a person won’t realize pregnancy has occurred until at least four weeks have passed. And those four weeks can be easily missed, if a person isn’t watching carefully. This is especially true for women who don’t have regular menstrual periods.

Until the last few years, my periods were like clockwork, and I could easily predict them. Lately, however, my periods have become more erratic. I am not in menopause yet, so there is a small chance I could get pregnant myself. But it would be difficult to determine when the pregnancy started, since my periods are now less predictable than they once were. And I have known many women whose periods have never been predictable.

Now… I’m sure a lot of people are thinking that a rape victim should just go get a “morning after” pill. But that assumes the victim is physically and emotionally able to seek help. It also assumes that the pharmacist doesn’t have any personal convictions against chemical abortions and is willing to dispense the medication.

While I agree that rape victims should be willing to report that they were raped, the reality is that the process of collecting evidence against rapists is, in and of itself, traumatic and humiliating. And some victims simply can’t bring themselves to submit to a forensic exam that takes hours and involves being photographed, poked, prodded, and examined in the most private parts of their bodies.

So… I have concluded that Mr. Abbott’s assertions that a person has plenty of time to get an abortion after rape, or that his new law is reasonable is, quite frankly, utter bullshit. It really disgusts me that this man has so very little regard for women, or their rights to control what happens to their own bodies, particularly after a sexual assault. I am so very tired of hearing men try to speak for women on this issue, too. Just yesterday, I read the following quote from a male pro-life advocate in Texas:

John Pisciotta, the director of the antiabortion group Pro-Life Waco, says he thinks rape victims could benefit from an abortion ban. When you perform an abortion on a rape victim, he said, “you’re just redoubling the woman’s trauma.” He has met women who are happy they kept children conceived in rape, he said.

“The mom is not crushed,” he said. “That’s not a rapist’s child. That’s her child.”

Excuse me? Even if it’s true that some women are “happy” they kept children conceived as a result of rape, he can’t say that about all women. Not all women want to be pregnant, raped or not. It’s not safe for all women to be pregnant, because some women’s bodies can’t handle pregnancy. And no person should have the right to force another to give birth, especially if the pregnancy is the result of coercion or violence. Despite what a lot of men seem to believe, pregnancy can and does happen under violent circumstances.

Greg Abbott insists that abortions are always wrong. And, like so many other politicians before him, he doesn’t seem to believe that true rape related pregnancies can happen. I mean, there have been so many braindead comments made by politicians, most of whom are white males like Greg Abbott, that indicate that a lot of men don’t believe that people can get pregnant due to rape. Sadly, some Republican women also don’t seem to get that rape can lead to an unintended pregnancy. Below are some infamous quotes by clueless conservatives on the subject of rape.

It really upsets me that people who make these kinds of insensitive, ignorant, and downright offensive remarks about rape are making laws. These people don’t have the intelligence, wisdom, or humanity to create laws that are helpful to victims. Greg Abbott is clearly an ignorant person, at best, regarding the abortion issue. And, based on his cruel comments over the past few days, he clearly does not care about women who have already been born and need to be able to attend to these very private matters without his, or any other person’s interference.

I realize that abortion is a contentious issue. Some people will never have empathy for people who have already been born. Some people will always place the value of a fetus over that of someone who has a concept of life and death and is fully conscious and sentient. Sadly, even people I really love and respect have these views, which, if I’m honest, make me think less of them somehow. The other day, I shared this with my friends on Facebook.

Most of my friends thought this was pretty cool. A couple of people also shared it.

I woke up this morning to two comments by a friend of mine. He’s very pro-life and religious, although he’s not a conservative voter.

He took issue with the above photo and wrote, “Belittling, perhaps “rightly, the characters of some of the people that advocate for the unborn does not change the fact that the unborn need to be advocated for because they are alive and they have a right to be born and that’s never taken into the equation when the absolute right of a woman to her body is posited.”

My response was, “No, I disagree. I will always advocate for people who have already been born over developing fetuses. There are situations in which abortions are medically necessary. None of those situations are anyone else’s business. As long as those situations exist, I will never agree that the unborn’s rights should ever supersede the rights of pregnant people.” I actually had to calm down a bit before I posted that. I do value this person as a good friend, but I absolutely disagree with his stance on abortion.

Then he posted this, which REALLY pissed me off, “And let’s not forget that the father should have a strong say about whether or not his baby is going to die.”

Uh… NOPE! NO.

My response was, “no… it’s not the father’s health or life on the line. While I empathize with men who want to be fathers, I will never agree that men have the right to force women to be pregnant.” Then I added, “And let’s NOT forget that sometimes children wind up pregnant…. Girls who have been raped. As long as twelve year olds anywhere in the world are getting pregnant by their fathers, brothers, or uncles (or anyone else), I will ALWAYS be pro choice.”

That’s right. Sometimes CHILDREN end up pregnant. This friend of mine has three daughters. I know he loves them very much and has done all he can to protect them. Fortunately, they are all grown women now. But what if, when those girls were growing up, they were victimized? What if one of his girls got pregnant due to a rape? Would he be advocating for the father’s rights then? Would he want one of his daughters, barely in puberty, to be FORCED to have a baby? Because there are places where children get pregnant and they are obliged to give birth. I won’t say it’s the norm, but it does happen even in these modern times. Two cases involving ten year olds are in the Wikipedia article I linked… and they both happened since 2015. Neither of those girls should have been forced to give birth, especially since they were both pregnant due to rape.

Now, if a person wants to argue that abortion is wrong on religious or moral grounds, and they want to grant “personhood” to a developing fetus, then in that case, I guess it’s always wrong, just as murder is wrong. If a person sees abortion as “murder”, then it shouldn’t matter how the person got pregnant or if the pregnancy is going to jeopardize the person’s health. A fetus conceived in violence or one that threatens the life or health of the mother is just as innocent as a fetus conceived intentionally. From that perspective, a developing fetus is a separate “person” who is just temporarily taking up residence in another person.

However, my guess is that most people can see situations in which abortion is permissible, and is clearly the kinder choice. Murder is never permissible, because murder involves malice and intent. Most abortions, while usually intentional, aren’t done maliciously.

My view is that no one should ever have to justify to another person why they want to have an abortion because, quite frankly, it’s no one else’s business. Moreover, the fact is, a fetus is NOT a separate person as long as it relies on its mother. And the longer people spend arguing about abortion, and whether or not the mother has a right to get one, the longer the fetus has to develop, and the crueler and more dangerous the procedure will ultimately be. Because, make no mistake about it. Abortions will still happen. But they will be more dangerous, and people will permanently injure or even kill themselves in the process of having them done clandestinely. That being said, though, abortion done correctly by people who know what they are doing is still much less dangerous than carrying a pregnancy to term.

I am glad Greg Abbott is committed to finding and prosecuting rapists. I’m not sure what secret he knows that will accomplish this great feat, but I look forward to seeing how he manages to fulfill this promise to his constituents. I expect to see the rape statistics go way down in Texas, now.

Yeah, right… I just don’t see it happening. It’s more controlling lip service from a man who obviously doesn’t understand women, or women’s health. And he just wants to keep oppressing them. It’s just sick.

I say, if people want the abortion rates to keep decreasing, then let’s make contraception easier to get and more affordable. Let’s create programs for pregnant people that take care of their healthcare expenses. Let’s make raising children less expensive, more parent friendly, and easier, with expanded options for child care that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, and is always safe and available. Let’s promote sex education that recognizes that people are going to have sex and they need to know how to prevent unintended pregnancies. And let’s make laws that make men responsible during pregnancy, forcing them to contribute to the costs of pregnancy care. I’ll bet if we start doing that, a lot of men will change their opinions on abortion.

And you know, when Ireland and Mexico, two VERY Catholic nations, change their laws on abortion to be less draconian, you know that lawmakers who insist on compelling people to give birth are taking our country back to the Dark Ages. The abortion issue isn’t about saving lives. It’s about controlling women. So, if men want to dictate to women that they must give birth, let ’em pay their admission price.

Edited to add… 9/15/2021… an excellent video.

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mental health, Military, psychology, true crime

Repost: It’s never the client’s fault when a therapist commits sexual abuse…

Yesterday, I reposted my review of Doc, a book about a Wyoming doctor who sexually abused his patients. My friend Alexis, who was a loyal reader and commenter for years until her own career in medicine kicked up, commented about another doctor– this one in Idaho– who molested patients. I was reminded of Dr. Heath J. Sommer, who was in the news in December 2018 and early 2019 for convincing his patients that having sex with him was “therapy”. Because I might write more about the case Alexis brought to my attention, I am reposting my two posts about the Sommer case, as/is.

Alright then.  Now I have a topic I need to discuss.

This morning, I read an article from the Air Force Times about a lowlife “psychologist” named Heath Sommer, who was working at Travis Air Force Base.  Sommer was convicted of six sexual assault charges, which included one count of rape.  He is now sitting in jail, awaiting his sentencing, scheduled to be handed down on January 25th.  According to the Air Force Times, he could be sentenced to a maximum of eleven years and eight months.

Three of Sommer’s clients, all of whom were female Air Force officers, came forward during the trial to tell their stories.  They had gone to Sommer seeking help with trauma caused by sexual assault and other ordeals.  Sommer’s brand of “help” was more sexual assault.  He used his position to manipulate the women, abuse their trust, and re-victimize them by telling them his assault was part of their “therapy”.

A somewhat longer article about this case explains in more detail the nature of Sommer’s “therapy sessions”.  In one case, a colonel was convinced to meet Sommer at his home, where he had her repeatedly describe the sexual assault she experienced in Afghanistan.  The Afghans had served her partially cooked goat meat before assaulting her, so Sommer had her put dirt in her mouth and eat meat from leftover Chinese food.  Then he told her that she needed a “positive” and “loving” sexual experience, which he was prepared to provide.  Over the course of two months, this woman had sex with Sommer nine times.

Now…  I suppose it’s easy to wonder what made this colonel think what she was getting was “therapy”.  Indeed, I read the comments for this article, which was an Air Force Times piece, but was also shared by the Army Times.  The comments I read on the Air Force Times article are, so far, appropriately empathetic to the victims.  I can’t say I was surprised to read several less empathetic comments from Army Times readers.

The first comment I encountered questioning the victim was this…

I’m confused as to why the victims went along with this “therapy”

It was followed by this comment…

I was asking myself the same thing, especially since one of the victims is a colonel. But then again you never know what their state of mind is having been assaulted before. I feel that they must be evaluated to determine if they can continue serving in the military; after all, they were manipulated by him. I’m not so sure I would trust them with sensitive information.

That’s right.  Colonels are supposed to know better, right?  In case it’s not obvious, that’s sarcasm.  It doesn’t matter that the victim was a colonel.  She went to Sommer looking for help.  He was supposedly a qualified psychologist.  He violated his position of trust and took advantage of her.  He broke the law and disregarded his code of professional ethics.  Sommer is completely to blame for this.

Reading on, I encountered this comment.

Hey everybody! The faceless edgelord is here to virtue signal…. Please make sure to give him your undivided attention and adulation….God knows what this country needs is more habitually triggered, SJW, liberals with savior complexes. Where would we be if we didnt have them constantly lecturing us in every related and unrelated comment thread about the plight of (insert alleged victim group).

Um… maybe if there weren’t so many ignorant, offensive, obnoxious comments from people who have their heads so firmly lodged in their assholes, the social justice warriors wouldn’t feel the need to set them straight.  It’s clear that this person didn’t listen to enough lectures from smart people when he was growing up; therefore, he is in need of some schooling from the more evolved.

OMG..who would believe that sexual assalt was a treatment for sexual assalt????

Sadly, it’s not just the men who have their heads in their asses.  This comment was left by a spelling challenged woman.  Granted… I suppose it does seem crazy that sexual intercourse would be offered as therapy for sexual assault.  However, many people are conditioned to trust healthcare providers.  That’s why it’s so very important for healthcare providers to be ethical.

Why do people think so many gymnasts submitted to Larry Nassar’s “therapeutic” efforts for so long?  It’s because he was a doctor, and people in authority were telling the gymnasts that he was an expert.  They wanted to make the Olympic team.  Nassar was “nice” to them and convinced them that his brand of therapy was real.  They liked and trusted him, so he was able to victimize hundreds of them.  No, the gymnasts weren’t “dumb”.  They were abused.  Same thing goes for Heath Sommer’s victims.

I would imagine the situation Nassar’s victims were in is similar for people in the military, who must regularly see doctors and other healthcare professionals.  Often, the providers people in the military see are not necessarily of their choosing.  Obviously, Sommer was hired to work with the military population.  His victims believed he was qualified and they trusted him to help them.  They did not approach him for sex; he convinced them that sex was what they needed in order to get well.

Moreover, there is such a thing as a “sexual surrogate“, which are people who legitimately have sex with their clients as a form of therapy.  Sexual surrogates are not “romantic”; the point of it is to help clients get past sexual hangups.  There’s even a documentary about this, which I have seen (it used to be available on Netflix).  Although it sounds a little like prostitution, if you watch the documentary, you see that it’s a very clinical process that truly has helped some people.  I’m not saying Sommer’s victims thought of him in a “sexual surrogate” role, but I do think it’s plausible that he had convinced them that what he was doing was “therapeutic”.

A trailer for the documentary, The Story of a Sex Surrogate.

This man should burn in hell for sure but at the same time, how did he get away with having sex with the woman 9 times. She came to his house for 8 of those times. Another woman gave him oral sex?!?! Seriouslly!!! Who else read the article? I feel like I’m missing some important information. I don’t understand how a woman can be forced to drive over and have sex with you 8 times after doing it once in the office. I understand he may have been manipulative but still….

Here’s another comment from someone who thinks the victims should have known better.  If you’re mentally healthy and haven’t been sexually traumatized, I can imagine that it seems “stupid” that a client could be convinced that Sommer’s brand of therapy was legit.  But again… consider that the victims were traumatized and vulnerable, and they trusted their therapist.  He violated their trust.  It’s 100% his fault, and he belongs in prison.

As a psychologist, Sommer has more knowledge of the human psyche than most laypeople do.  He had a professional role and was hired to perform that role by people who should have been able to judge his qualifications.  I would certainly expect he had a valid license to practice, which would have been granted to him by other professionals who, one would hope, knew what they were doing.  I don’t know anything about Sommer, but as someone with a master’s degree in social work, I do know something about this subject myself.  From day one in my accredited MSW program, it was impressed upon us that we had a code of ethics that we must adhere to and that the client’s needs came first.  Sommer is a psychologist, but I would expect that he was bound by similar ethics.

More of the same…

This guy deserves to be beat to death, but at the same time, how dumb are you to fall for therapy that requires you to have sex with the therapist under the guise of “exposure therapy”? I mean c’mon, you’ve got to be pretty dumb to fall for that…

Logically I can see your point. But I think those females were so hurt and traumatized that once they fully trusted him, they truly thought he was there to help them. The human mind is complex and I think when someone’s mind gets screwed up from terrible things the mind can really get wacky

I get that, but you can Google anything. If something doesn’t sound right, I.E. “having sex with your therapist and calling it exposure therapy” you can look it up. At what point do you not ask yourself, does this seem right?

…that’s very true. He could have taken advantage of their vulnerability and maybe those females could have ended up developing feelings for him because of that.

These women weren’t “dumb”.  They got help from the wrong person, who took advantage of his position and their trust.  It is not their fault that he victimized them.  In fact, they are to be commended for coming forward so that Sommer was taken out of service.  Moronic, ignorant attitudes like the ones displayed in the comment sections on Facebook can prevent people from seeking a legal remedy when they are victimized.  When people don’t come forward, lowlife scumbags like Heath Sommer are allowed to continue committing crimes, damaging innocent people, and ruining lives.  So please don’t blame the victims.  It’s not their fault at all.

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obits, true crime

RIP Mary Kay…

I woke up to the news that Mary Kay Letourneau passed away on July 6th. She’d been suffering from colon cancer and spent the last month in hospice care. Her ex husband, Vili Fualaau, was at her side taking care of her. This would not seem like such a strange thing, except that Mary Kay Letourneau did seven years in prison for raping Vili when he was almost 13 years old. She’d been his teacher in both the second and sixth grades. Although Mary Kay Letourneau was regarded as an excellent teacher who, to my knowledge, was not a habitual sexual abuser, for some reason she couldn’t resist Vili Fualaau. It cost her everything, including her freedom and access to her four children from her first marriage.

Mary Kay Letourneau also had two children with Vili. They were married in 2005 and split up in 2017, finally divorcing in 2019. I remember reading that the split was mostly because Vili wanted to start a marijuana farm and couldn’t do so legally as long as he was married to a felon. In spite of their divorce, he was with Mary Kay until the end, even though she was technically his rapist.

Mary Kay Letourneau’s story was certainly unusual. In the late 1990s, she was a fixture in the tabloids. Lots of people had, and still have, very strong opinions about her. Just this morning, there’s a thread on RfM about Mary Kay Letourneau’s passing. A couple of posters are steadfastly taking people to task for expressing sadness that Mary Kay died. I am one of those they’re judging. They claim I’m a “rape apologist” because I expressed condolences. Incidentally, I remember a few months ago, someone else on RfM implying that I’m a racist because I described the people who punctured our tire in France as “swarthy”.

The person who implied I’m a racist is also among those claiming that anyone who empathizes with Mary Kay Letourneau is a “rape apologist”. I guess this puts me right down there with Donald Trump. Actually, I think these folks, both of whom are very intelligent, but sometimes quite rigid and argumentative, are guilty of extreme black and white thinking. And they seem just fine with telling other people how and what they should think, too. I’ve learned that there’s no point in having discussions with people of that ilk because it goes nowhere. Their minds are made up, and they simply aren’t willing to consider other viewpoints.

I often get into trouble with people because, for the most part, I try not to engage in black and white thinking, even when it comes to what should be done with rapists, child molesters, and murderers. Perhaps it’s because of my social work training, although maybe if I had actually had to do a lot of work with victims, that “open-mindedness” might have gone out the window. I see most people as capable of being and doing good things, even if they’ve committed a heinous crime. I like to hope that most people are redeemable on some level, even if I know some of them aren’t.

Anyway, my thinking about this case is what it is. I don’t tend to think of most people as all good or all bad. For instance, I despise Bill’s ex wife, but even she has her redeeming qualities if I stop and think about it for a moment. She could have been much worse than she was, although she was certainly bad enough. She did some really terrible things to people– to include rape. But I can still think of worse people in the world. I also realize that whatever I think of her, she still has loved ones who wouldn’t want to see her dead. Or, I assume she does, anyway.

I had a social work professor who did a lot of work in prisons with domestic abusers and child molesters. While that work is certainly considered distasteful to a lot of people, it’s very necessary, just as defense attorneys are necessary to advocate for people who are accused of crimes. My professor explained what it was like to work with pedophiles and child molesters (there is a difference). I remember thinking how difficult it must have been for him to work with that population, but I later came to realize that working with them was a kindness. He provided a much needed service for the offenders, but also for anyone who has to deal with the offenders, including their families and other incarcerated people.

A person can be a pedophile, but not a child molester. A pedophile is someone who is sexually attracted to children, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have molested children. It could be that they’re just attracted to them and have fantasies. A child molester molests children, but may or may not find them sexually attractive.

Many people think that someone who victimizes children should simply be executed. I can understand why people feel that way. Children are innocent and powerless, and they are never in a position of strength over adults who victimize them. I agree that people who harm children must be punished and prevented from harming other children. However, many people also have issues with the death penalty. Although I grew up being all for executing criminals, my mind changed as I came of age and saw the death penalty unfairly administered. I read horrifying accounts of innocent people being exonerated, sometimes after they had already been put to death. So now, I’m mostly against executing people, unless it’s a matter of public safety, there is absolutely no doubt of the person’s guilt, and there is certainty that given the opportunity, they would offend again. I think it’s something that should be done exceedingly rarely.

What should we do with someone who confesses to being a pedophile, but never actually harms a child? If someone dares to admit to those feelings, especially to someone with training in counseling, should we just round them up and shoot them? Or should we offer them some kind of help? Do pedophiles have any intrinsic worth as human beings, despite their attraction to children? Can they be salvaged? Do they deserve compassion and understanding? As my professor said, people who are attracted to children are dealing with a very powerful drive. If they are brave enough to seek help before they hurt anyone, and even after they’ve hurt someone, I think that should be encouraged.

I also don’t think that all sex offenders are created equally. What Mary Kay Letourneau did was certainly very wrong. She did rape a child. But she was not on the same level as someone like Warren Jeffs, who repeatedly victimized scores of women and children for many years.

From what I have read about the Letourneau case, the relationship Mary Kay had with Vili wasn’t violent. He could not legally consent to having sex with her when they first got together, because he was a child. She certainly abused her power by giving in to having sex with him when she was his teacher. But he was, apparently, her one and only victim, and for whatever reason, he later married her and willingly stayed with her for years.

Did Vili have the right to make the decision to marry his rapist as a consenting adult? Yes he did, even if I don’t agree with his decision. It would not have been right for the government to say that he couldn’t marry his abuser, even if most people think it’s icky and wrong. Americans value their freedoms, as we’ve especially seen during the coronavirus pandemic. And Vili, evidently, did not consider Mary Kay Letourneau abusive, even if the law says differently. Mary Kay was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which may have had some bearing on her behavior, too.

I don’t see Mary Kay Letourneau as a monster, even if I definitely don’t condone what she did. I think what matters most is what her victim thinks. Vili Fualaau was Mary Kay Letourneau’s victim, not me, and he hasn’t been a child in many years. Apparently, he loved her, despite what she did. Mary Kay Letourneau went to prison for her crimes against him. She did her time, and to my knowledge, did not reoffend. She can’t ever hurt anyone else because she’s now dead. Colon cancer is also not a very pleasant way to die.

I don’t understand Mary Kay’s and Vili’s relationship, but since Vili is an adult, I respect his choices, and yes, I am sorry for his loss. That does not make me a “rape apologist”. Aside from that, Mary Kay Letourneau was still the mother of six people. I don’t know what her children think of her, although I did read that she managed to “mend fences” with her eldest children. Her daughter, Mary Claire, was even the maid of honor at Mary Kay’s wedding to Vili. They’re probably sad that she died. Or maybe they aren’t sad. They’re entitled to whatever their feelings are. As a fellow human being, I have empathy for them. It’s not my place to demand that they hate her or be glad she’s dead. It’s not my place to demand that anyone thinks or feels the way I do. It doesn’t mean I admire Mary Kay Letourneau or think she was a paragon of virtue. It means I see her as a flawed human being who suffered and is deserving of basic compassion. There are people who loved her and will miss her, in spite of her shortcomings as a person. And I am sorry for their loss.

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Netflix, politics

I just saw Filthy Rich, a Netflix documentary about Jeffrey Epstein…

We’re enjoying some much needed rain here in Germany this morning. I woke up early again. I think it was about 4:30am. I’d had some vivid dreams and then had to answer the call of nature. I checked the news and Facebook and soon found myself on a friend’s timeline. She is as anti-Trump as I am, but still maintains a lot of friendships with people in the county where we both grew up in the 1980s. One of her “friends”, an older man, defiantly posted “#Trump 2020” as a response to her.

I don’t usually comment on political or religious posts made by friends. It’s mainly because I end up getting into arguments with people I don’t know, and I don’t want to waste energy on that. However, after my friend left an impassioned comment regarding her concerns about Trump to her townie friend from Gloucester, I felt compelled to respond. This was what I posted:

Don’t forget rapist… Trump is a rapist, too… with ties to Jeffrey Epstein.

My friend’s friend responded with this comment:

I think if you knew what your talking about Bill Clinton had 26 documented flights with Jeffrey Epstein-look up your facts & stop watching CNN & you might sound a little smarter

Okay… first off, it really bugs me when people bring up Bill Clinton in a discussion about Donald Trump. Bill Clinton was the president from 1992-2000. He is NOT the president now. Neither is his wife. And, guess what… I didn’t vote for EITHER of them. And secondly, we can’t do anything about Clinton. We CAN do something about Trump.

But this guy happened to catch me before my coffee and morning constitutionals, so this was my response:

I was not a Clinton fan, either. I don’t like rapists, and Trump not only raped his first wife, but he also raped teenagers. Your whataboutism is pathetic, and believe me, anyone who still supports Donald Trump is an idiot of EPIC proportions.

So he wrote this:

I have no idea were your getting your facts from-probably CNN very honest network 🤦‍♀️ but I appreciate y’all’s input but I have to go to sleep so I can work tomm-millions on welfare depending on me

Hmm… I don’t sound smart? I’ve copied his responses word for word. I wasn’t going to respond again, because trying to communicate with these folks is a losing proposition. But who knows? Maybe someone reading that thread will learn something new. So I decided to leave a parting shot. It’s one I’ve written about in my blog more than a few times, but here it is for anyone wondering…

I read books written by people who do credible research and I avoid Fox News. It’s a fact that Trump raped his first wife. It was part of their divorce proceedings. She even called it rape at the time, but then later recanted, probably because Trump paid her. The way it was described certainly fit the definition of rape. He was angry with her because she had recommended a surgeon for his hair transplant surgery. He was in pain, so he took it out on her sexually. You can easily find the account if you search for it.  

As for Trump’s penchant for teens… I find Katie Johnson’s account very credible, especially after what has come out about Jeffrey Epstein. You seem like the type of person who blames victims, though, so I won’t be surprised if this doesn’t move you or if you don’t even bother to listen to what she has to say.  

And finally, I was actually a Republican voter during the Clinton era. I didn’t vote for either of the Clintons. Last presidential election, I voted third party because I couldn’t stomach either choice. Since I voted in Texas by absentee ballot, I realized it didn’t matter. You should not assume that everyone who dislikes Trump is a Clinton fan. A lot of us aren’t, although I think both Bill and Hillary Clinton are miles better than Trump is. Besides, Bill Clinton has already been POTUS and there is nothing we can do about that now, so bringing him up in a discussion about Trump is pretty pointless. We can’t do anything about Clinton. We can do something about Trump.

I vote for people, not political parties, but even if Trump weren’t an admitted pussy grabber, I would not have voted for him. He’s been a well known scumbag for decades. And I can see by the way things are right now that my instincts about him are 100% correct.

And I left this video in the comment.

I’ve shared it a few times. I’m sharing it again.

Two days ago, I logged into Netflix for the first time in a few months. I was moved to watch Netflix on account of a public post made by Dr. Gene Fant, my tenth grade homeroom teacher, who is now the president of a Christian university in South Carolina. He wrote of the four part documentary Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich. I would like to share his post here, but it’s very long. I recommend reading it, since it’s public. Dr. Fant used to live and work in Palm Beach, Florida, where many of Jeffrey Epstein’s disgusting exploits with teenaged girls took place.

Jeffrey Epstein used his money and power to abuse hundreds of women and girls. He and his former girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, ran a sort of teen girl pyramid scheme. Maxwell would recruit beautiful young women with promises of work and lucrative pay to come to Epstein’s homes and give him massages. Eventually, the young women, hopelessly ensnared in Epstein’s filthy rich world would wind up recruiting other young girls into his lair, where they would end up servicing his filthy rich friends… people like former president Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew, and yes, Donald Trump. Katie Johnson, in the above video, offers a very credible account of what happened to her at the hands of Trump and Epstein. I believed her when I first discovered the video, filmed in 2016, at some point last summer. I believe her even more now, as I listened to other women tell stories that were very similar but less explicit than Katie Johnson’s.

The documentary shows Epstein’s lavish homes in Palm Beach, Florida, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and New York City, as well as his private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands. I was stunned by the natural beauty of the island, known as “Little St. Jeff’s”. It was reportedly his favorite place because it is so remote and isolated. He brought powerful people there– mostly men– and trapped beautiful young women there who would inevitably wind up being raped. Some people would come just for dinner… but plenty of powerful men were there for orgies. And the women lured there, many times very young, in troubling personal circumstances, and financially strapped, were promised legitimate work. Instead, they were basically trafficked by people who literally bought and sold them.

If you can stomach it, watch it.

Filthy Rich is a disturbing documentary. Most of us can’t fathom the world Jeffrey Epstein lived in, surrounded by extremely wealthy, powerful, famous people whom he could force into silence because he had the goods on them. Epstein was convinced he’d never be caught or prosecuted because he pretty much “owned” people in power. He had video cameras everywhere, so if any of his rich and powerful friends ever had an attack of conscience, he could make sure they went down with him. And he probably figured that regular folks– prosecutors or police chiefs– would not have the courage to go after him, even when the women he victimized spoke out. Fortunately, he was wrong, although his victims will never get the satisfaction of seeing him prosecuted or getting compensated for what he did to them.

Seriously… if I don’t laugh, I’ll cry.

Donald Trump was a part of that world. So was Bill Clinton. Both have been presidents, tasked with leading the most powerful country in the world… although it appears that the United States is now about to sink into decline. Trump is now acting like an unhinged dictator wannabe.

I know a lot of people voted for Trump in 2016 because they saw him as the less evil choice. The Clintons had been in power before, and Hillary Clinton is definitely not a paragon of virtue. Many people did not want to vote for her because they figured they already knew her. I do think she would have been a much better president than Trump is… but I also think that almost anyone in government would do better than Trump has. I also think Bill Clinton was a much better president than Trump is, but he’s basically the same type of person. He lies, and uses and exploits people, especially women, to get what he wants. Of course, all politicians lie to some extent, but some are much worse than others.

He was there… in the thick of it all.

In 2016, Trump was untested as a leader, and he had charisma. He’d been on his own reality TV show. It was a popular show and Trump was supposedly entertaining. I never saw the show myself, so I don’t know if he actually was entertaining. People were tired of career politicians. They saw Trump as a straight shooter and plain talker. They thought he had the moxie to get things done. He talked a good game. I’ll admit, even I thought he was better than Ted Cruz, although I don’t feel that way now. His presidency has been a shameful, embarrassing, terrifying disaster. But he never should have been considered in the first place, because of his record of raping women… and because he was also an established racist as early as the 1970s.

From 2016… we were warned about Trump’s racism.

But now that Filthy Rich has come out, and it’s well established that Donald Trump was in Jeffrey Epstein’s vile sphere, I can’t see how anyone with a shred of decency can continue to champion him. He’s a disgrace, and he has no problem victimizing people to get what he wants. He’s trying to turn the United States into his own private fiefdom. Even if the elections go on in November and he is defeated, he will probably not leave power quietly. And there will still be people like the gentleman I referenced at the beginning of this post who will continue to cheer him on… because they are white men of a certain age who see their power slipping away because of emboldened people who are now confronting them about their privilege.

Anyway… I didn’t enjoy Filthy Rich, but I do think it’s very important viewing. Extremely wealthy and powerful people have privileges that most people can’t fathom. Jeffrey Epstein could have easily gotten away with his crimes if not for the bravery of the women who came forward… and the legal professionals who vowed to hold him accountable.

Edited to add: I don’t usually do this, but I decided to leave one more comment for my friend’s Trump supporting friend who thinks I get my news from CNN…

Here’s an excerpt of an article about a book that came out in 1993 about Trump’s sexual attack on his ex wife, Ivana Trump. After I read the article, I read the book, “Lost Tycoon”, which was published decades before Trump was a serious contender for POTUS.  

Aside from that, there are many references to the kind of person Trump has always been, to include his racist policies regarding his rental properties. And I didn’t find them on CNN. In fact, I have subscriptions to three different newspapers, and that’s where I get most of my news.

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