One Thing I Wonder about

It has been… not exactly comforting, but maybe a little bit comforting, to be approaching the age my parents were when I was stalked. The question I have has the hardest time making peace with is “How could you let this happen?” and now I see how this is all the amount they knew about how the world worked. These are all the skills for coping they had.

I was thinking about coming into math class and the teacher telling me that my stalker had left his notebook. She said, “Your boyfriend left his notebook. Why don’t you go bring it to him?”

And I flipped out. I stood up and sent my desk skidding across the floor. “He’s not my boyfriend.”

I remember her looking at me in utter confusion and annoyance. “Well, he says he is.”

Like that settled the matter. The dog had peed on me. I was his tree.

I wonder if she has any regrets. I wonder if she ever realized something was wrong.

To me, even now, the most upsetting part of it was the utter loss of control over the narrative of your own life. The feeling of knowing you have one life–where you hang out with this group of people and you aren’t dating anyone, even though you’d like to–and a lot of people believing you have a different life–where this guy, who you’re terrified of, is your boyfriend–just because he says so.

I felt, often, like I was suffocating under the weight of his fantasy of me. Like the longer it went on, the harder it was for me to have my very basic understanding of myself respected by other people.

I guess that’s why the bystander stuff in the Vandy case bothers me so much. A lot of people saw what was happening to me and either didn’t recognize it for something they needed to worry about or actively sided with his version of events. As if it was just “he said/she said” and not “he’s doing things/she said.”

16 thoughts on “One Thing I Wonder about

  1. I know what you mean about coming to understand things differently as you get older. Something horrible happened to me as a teen and my mom told our minister who gently let me know that he knew. I was so mad at her for telling him because I felt that I needed to do that. Now I realize that she was very upset and needed to talk to someone and she didn’t do it to hurt me.

    All I can say is times were different back then. Everyone (including your parents) was more naive. Stalking wasn’t the thing it is now, though I’m sure it happened quite a bit. As for the Vandy case, young people (especially under-the-influence young people) often don’t recognize what is really going on around them. If someone you respect/trust is doing something, it must be OK – even if it isn’t. I learned about that my freshman year in college. Gee, I wonder why I have trust issues still?

  2. You have trashed Nick Beres for what he failed to ask the perpetrator of the (statutory) rape of the then-15-year-old who recently served as the jury foreman in the Vanderbilt rape case. I can’t say that I understand the prurient interest in the details, but if you want the official version of what happened appearing in the presentence report in Docket No. CR225-01 in a suburban county adjoining Nashville, I can send it to you.

  3. John, first of all, it’s creepy as fuck that you’d hunt down my personal blog. Second of all, it’s creepy as fuck that, on a post about how I was stalked, you’re trying to start up some conversation about your dumbass problems. Third of all, fucking bullshit. You do too know why the details of that case matter. Fourth, don’t fucking send me anything. Again, creepy as fuck. Fifth, I know what happened. Which is why I find Beres’ unwillingness to provide that context for his viewers to be utter bullshit.

    Sixth, and perhaps most importantly for your personal growth, your schtick of trying to both act like some kind of idiot bumpkin and like you have insider knowledge that makes you worth listening to is ridiculous and disingenuous. Just be the smart person you are.

  4. How do you know that Nick didn’t ask? The details are not the kind of thing that an FCC regulated broadcast station normally describes.

  5. Mr. Herbison,

    Since you won’t listen to Ms. Phillips, perhaps you’ll listen to an uninvolved outsider.

    Please refrain from discussing — or attempting to discuss — the particulars of any cases with which you (or your firm) have been or are involved. I believe the Board of Professional Responsibility has already dealt with you on issues unrelated to the Vanderbilt case and would prefer not having to address more complaints.

    Again. For the … what, third time in less than nine years? Perhaps the issue continues to be that you’re too occupied with discussing cases to properly handle your clients’ business. ( )

    It’s also simply inappropriate for an attorney to go chattering about cases on blogs. If you have legal opinions you want to share with the Internet, perhaps you could start your own blog and welcome guests and share prurient details and hold up rapists as pillars of the community there.

  6. John, this is exactly what I mean by you playing idiot bumpkin when the whole world knows you’re actually an astute person. It doesn’t come across as charming and folksy. It comes across like you think the person you’re talking to is dumb and you have to speak at their level.

    You know damn well that Nick could have asked questions about the rapist’s actions that didn’t have to get into details, but that provided context to the rapist’s claims that his actions may have rendered the juror unable to perform his duties. And you also know that those contextualizing questions would have made the rapist seem like a giant creep who did need to spend some time away from society while also revealing why the juror didn’t regard it as a crime. That might have been useful information for the public to have.

    But instead, we got that shit show, where he treated a rapist like a brave whistleblower and the public learned nothing.

    And now I have you creeping around here. To what end?

    To creep me out? It worked.

  7. Well, if I cause discomfort, that is certainly not my intent, and for that I apologize. I am sympathetic to your having been a crime victim, (as I have been, too, including multiple home burglaries and the thefts of several well loved musical instruments,) and I realize that experience is unsettling.

    But in that you have volunteered information about being a crime victim, let me ask you. If you were to sit as a juror in a stalking case, having concealed that information when asked about it, do you believe that you could be fair and impartial? If you had a relative or close friend on trial for such an offense, would you want him or her to be judged by jurors of a mindset similar to yours?

  8. Wow dude, it’s not always about you. I do believe I’ve developed an impartial opinion about your creepiness.

  9. John, again, this is bullshit and you know it. The question is whether Nick did something unconscionable by giving a rapist a public platform to run down his victim again. The answer to that is and always will be yes. Did Nick even remotely attempt to mitigate the vileness of that action by uncovering context which could shed light on the discrepancy between what the rapist said he did and the fact that the juror said he doesn’t feel like a crime victim? No, he didn’t. He didn’t ask questions of the rapist that uncovered new information unavailable to Nick through other means.

    So, there wasn’t any reason for him to air the interview. Nick could have covered the story thoroughly without giving the rapist that public platform.

    The questions you’re asking I already answered. I do think the juror should be looked into. As I said in my original post, I think it’s incredibly problematic that he didn’t disclose he was the victim of a crime.

    That doesn’t negate that Nick’s interview was fucked the fuck up.

    I’m assuming you’ve lost your way this evening, maybe you’re drunk. It’s the only reason I can come up with that you would show up here and make such an ass of yourself. Your job as a defense attorney is to provide the best legal defense you are capable of. It is your job to uncover potential ways the law has been bent unfairly against your client. It is not your job to unleash a monster in the direction of people you’ve decided have been unfair to your client, or, in this case, your firm’s client.

    And so, I certainly hope, for the sake of your ability to live with yourself, that this is not what you did.

  10. No, I am stone cold sober. I am curious, however, as to how you claim to know what Nick Beres did or did not ask. Have you talked with him? (I have, and he related a good bit more information than was broadcast.)

    And in terms of “potential ways the law has been bent unfairly against [my firm’s] client,” don’t forget that facts, as well as the application of law to facts, matter too. And this juror’s potential bias is a factual issue that will be subject to some very critical examination as to whether the verdict is tainted. I hope that your own experience as a stalking victim will inform you in this regard. If you were part of the venire in a criminal jury trial, would you conceal that information when asked? Would you cavil about whether you were or were not a victim?

    Publicly available records indicate that at the time of the crimes, the perpetrator was age 23 and the other participant was 16. If a person aged 13 to 17 is not a victim in a statutory rape case, is that then a victimless crime?

    This jury foreman was no shrinking violet. On the day after verdict, January 28, WTVF broadcast an interview of the jury foreman by Chris Contie. Mr. Easter appeared on camera, and the graphic of his name appeared on screen. This interview is available online at

    Mr. Easter made some comments suggesting that at the beginning of deliberations, many jurors had already made up their minds, and in response to a question about what he found to be the most disturbing aspect of the trial, he said, “What bothered me the most about the case was they pled not guilty in the face of such incriminating evidence.” He said that he wanted to be the foreman and read the verdict to the defendants: “I wanted to be the one to read the verdict and I wanted to read it to their face.” Are those the remarks of one who is fair and impartial?

  11. I don’t understand what he meant to accomplish by coming here. There are no hearts and minds to be won, plus nobody ever became more sympathetic to a deeply unpopular cause because someone took to some blog comments. Didn’t the daily demonstrate that lesson well enough already?

  12. Holy shit, John. I don’t know how much clearer I can make it: I know all this and it doesn’t change my opinion.

    We don’t disagree because you know so much more than me and you need to fill my malleable lady-brain with the right opinions and information. In fact, I am making every effort to not know more about a case where an adult raped a minor and then, later, was treated like a hero by a local reporter for admitting to a rape he went to prison for.

    We disagree because I think it was wrong to interview a rapist and to treat him like he was doing some public good by doing the interview, when really, he was using the opportunity to run his victim down again.

    We also disagree about the wisdom of you pretending to be a decent person while salaciously spreading information about a case involving a minor. And, Jesus Christ, that you really used the term “no shrinking violet” to describe a rape victim you’re trying to discredit is almost Snidely Whiplash levels of evil. Stop it.

    You can conflate “Should the juror have disclosed that information?” with “Was it okay for Nick Beres to give the juror’s rapist a public platform to attack him?” all you want. No one is buying that those are the same issues.

    You should not be commenting here.

    I don’t know why you thought it was a good idea to begin with, but I’m telling you that you’re making a total ass of yourself. Stop commenting here. Not even to apologize or try to explain yourself again. Just stop commenting.

  13. “I am sympathetic to your having been a crime victim, (as I have been, too, including multiple home burglaries and the thefts of several well loved musical instruments,) and I realize that experience is unsettling.”

    Seriously? Comparing theft of musical instruments to stalking? There is no comparison between a person taking things vs a person trying to take a woman’s control. But if you could comprehend that, you’d not be here arguing the innocence of gang rapists.

  14. I am pleased to explain, and also pleased to thereafter stop commenting. I don’t want to impose my views where I am not welcome.

    On the Nashville Scene blog, you trashed Nick Beres for not presenting his story in the manner that you would have done. You wrote:

    “But let’s not let Beres off the hook here either. If this jackass’s contention is that what he did to the juror was so terrible that the juror is too warped by the experience to be fit to serve on the jury, then Beres has an obligation to find out what the rapist did to the juror. Not the vague “statutory rape” charges, but what the rapist actually did.”

    I took that to mean that you regarded it important for the details of “what the rapist did to the juror” to be made public. In that the details contained in the court file are rather graphic, I did not wish to do that myself via commentary on your blog without first offering you the opportunity to do it yourself, thus becoming a conduit for information that you evidently regarded as being of public interest. Had Nick done so, it might have courted trouble with the FCC, and it is apparent from your Scene post that you have no problem with vulgarity. (Unless you didn’t really care about the facts and were just kvetchring about a journalist whose briefcase you are unqualified to carry.) Again, I doubt seriously that you know the scope of what Nick Beres did or did not ask. That suggests that you were using facts or the absence of facts in the WTVF story as a drunk uses lampposts — for support rather than for illumination.

    I offered, you declined, and I am content to go on my merry way. I hope you and your readers have a good weekend. Toodle-ooo!

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