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The Essential Ellen Willis$

Ellen Willis and Nona Willis Aronowitz

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780816681204

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816681204.001.0001

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The Trial of Arline Hunt

The Trial of Arline Hunt

Chapter:
(p.70) The Trial of Arline Hunt
Source:
The Essential Ellen Willis
Author(s):

Nona Willis Aronowitz

Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press
DOI:10.5749/minnesota/9780816681204.003.0012

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter narrates the case of Arline Hunt (not her real name; all names, places, dates, and other identifying details have been changed to protect the anonymity of participants in the case), a woman in her early twenties who was raped but made to look like she was the defendant during the trial. Arline met the accused, Fred Dumond, in a dating bar one evening, and after having some drinks, she ended up in the latter’s apartment because he wouldn’t give her pocketbook containing her money, keys, identification, and Valium (prescribed by her psychiatrist). The trial of Fred Dumond for rape, including a lesser charge of assault with intent to rape, began on March 3, 1975. The presiding judge was Andrew P. Blackburn; the jury, composed of three women and nine men, was predominantly white, middle-aged, and working-class. After the usual cross-examinations and testimonies of witnesses, Drumond was declared not guilty, and Blackburn, upset at the verdict, told the jury: “I wish I could say to you that you performed your jury service in the highest traditions of this state, and I can’t”.

Keywords:   rape, trial, jury, presiding judge, testimonies, witnesses, cross-examinations

Jewel’s is one of a cluster of singles bars on Union Street near San Francisco’s fashionable Pacific Heights district. The canopy over the door is stamped with the bar’s motto, “Where Incredible Friendships Begin.” At the entrance a sign warns that “blue jeans, T-shirts, collarless jerseys, tank shirts, transvestites, etc.” are “taboos.” The doorman wears a suit. Inside, the middlebrow, stainedglass-and-wood-paneling decor seems a perfunctory attempt to disguise the stark functionalism of the place, which is dominated by two bars, one sitdown and one standup, surrounded by lots of space. Unlike Hal’s Pub across the street, Jewel’s serves no food, not even coffee. A few small tables are tucked in the corners like afterthoughts. A slick rock band plays but there is rarely much room to dance. Jewel’s attracts a mixed crowd—salesmen, secretaries, students, some freaks, a few blacks, an occasional young executive. The “taboos” are not strictly enforced but most patrons dress neatly, the women in pantsuits, the men in neo-mod suits or sport jackets or turtlenecks and styled hair. There are always more men and they set the tone, a compound of sexual bravado and joking belligerence. On a busy night Jewel’s is so crowded that forced proximity becomes a kind of intimacy. Men overflow into the street, cruising the women who walk by.

September 18, 1974—a Wednesday—was not a busy night. It was raining and Jewel’s was almost empty when two young women from the neighborhood came in and sat down at the bar. Arline Hunt and her roommate and best friend, Bobbie Richards, were both office workers in their early twenties. Arline was small and slim and had dark hair and a puckish, wry little smile. She wore a navy knit shirt with a collar and long sleeves, navy bell-bottoms, clunky shoes, a long silver chain, and dangling earrings. From a distance she gave an impression of (p.71) sophistication; up close her candid, friendly face suggested a college freshman. Bobbie, dressed in jeans and a sweater, looked like a fair, even younger version of Arline. They often dropped in for a few drinks at one or another of the bars on Union Street. That night they ordered beers and chatted with the bartender.

An hour or so later, a man walked in and sat next to Arline. Fred Dumond, the thirty-two-year-old owner of an agency for temporary typists, was a familiar figure on the dating bar strip. Fred was well put together, if a bit packagedlooking—a shortish but muscular body, hair styled in a shag cut, brown leather jacket over turtleneck jersey—and he projected a kind of self-confidence some would call glib. He had a reputation for being a ladies’ man; the word people used was “swinger” or sometimes, less kindly, “operator.” He ordered a bottle of Schlitz and started a conversation with Bobbie while Arline was in the ladies’ room. When Arline came back, Fred began to focus on her with a caustic banter that made her laugh. He joked about the way people’s profiles revealed their characters—take Barbra Streisand’s, for instance. He talked about a car he wanted to buy and made sarcastic jokes about his split with his wife. Arline asked him questions. They all drank more beer. Fred kept bantering and Arline continued to be amused. Around 10:30, Bobbie had to leave; she was expecting a phone call from her boyfriend. Arline got up to go with her but Bobbie told her to stay if she felt like it. Fred urged her to have another drink; he would take her home. She decided to stay awhile and told Bobbie, “I’ll be home in half an hour.”

It took Bobbie twenty minutes to walk back to the apartment she shared with Arline and a third woman, Joanne Kovacs. They were all close friends from high school in the semirural town of Shelton, California. Their apartment was cheerful and unpretentious, with Arline’s charcoal drawings on the walls and Cosmo and Mademoiselle on the coffee table and beer in the refrigerator and a cat named Minestrone and Bobbie’s tropical fish tank.

Bobbie received her phone call and went to bed. She was not, she recalls, at all worried about Arline. “It never occurred to me that there might be anything wrong. Fred seemed like a nice guy, friendly, even though I wasn’t too impressed with him. He wasn’t really our type of person. He made me think of a high-school greaser who had grown up and gotten neat clothes and a haircut. I didn’t get the feeling that Arline was interested in him or that he was coming on strong to her. She was just enjoying a nice conversation. She likes to draw people out, to joke around with people. She is a very compassionate person and he was telling her about his problems. Later she told me, ‘He looked sad, I thought he was lonely.’ It was nothing unusual for her.”

But then, around 3:00 a.m., the telephone rang again, waking Bobbie up. It was Arline. “Bobbie,” she said, “I have just been raped.” Bobbie heard a man’s voice in the background yell, “That’s a hell of a thing to say!” She heard Arline reply, “That’s a hell of a thing to do!”

“I could tell she was really upset. I was really frightened—you know how you always have visions of murder. I said, ‘Arline, where are you?’ She said, (p.72) ‘Somewhere on Geary.’ I asked her, ‘Are you okay?’ She whispered, ‘I don’t know, I’m scared, Bobbie, I think he’s sick.’ I know her, I knew she was petri-fied. I told her, which was asinine, ‘Try to find out where you are.’ So she said to him, ‘What’s this address?’ and the phone went bang. From the way the guy hung up I thought, If Arline gets out of there alive, she’s lucky. I woke Joanne and told her Arline was in trouble and then I called the police. They said they’d do what they could, but Geary was an awfully long road.”

Bobbie and Joanne turned out the lights and sat by the kitchen window with a flashlight. They thought Fred might take Arline home; if they spotted him, they would call the police again. They sat and waited.

Number 2211 Geary Boulevard is part of a huge, bleak beehive of a luxury apartment complex owned by the Christian Science Church. Fred Dumond lived on the twelfth floor in apartment 1209. His next door neighbors, in apartment 1210, were John and Maureen Hollis, a solidly middle-American married couple in their fifties, the parents of grown children. Both of them worked as administrators in the church.

On September 18 the Hollises went to bed, as usual, at 10:00 p.m. Around 2:30 they woke up to the sounds of a woman screaming, which they later described as “terrifying” and “blood-curdling.” “It was screaming at the top of the voice saying, ‘Help me, please help me,’” said John Hollis. “I jumped out of bed,” his wife recalled. “The phone was on my side of the bed and I called security and I said, ‘I think there’s a murder being committed.’” At first, dazed and sleepy, she couldn’t tell where the sounds were coming from; they simply filled the room. But then she was sure: they were coming from next door, through the common wall that separated the bedroom of apartment 1209 from her own. She could also hear bumping noises and a man’s voice. “I couldn’t stand it. I went into the living room and I could still hear them in there. I was just terrified.”

The screams continued—they went on, intermittently, for fifteen or twenty minutes altogether—and when there was no response from the building’s security office, John Hollis made a second urgent call. Then he got dressed and went outside to see if there were lights in the windows of any of the apartments near his. He stood in front of the building and peered upward. There was a light in the bedroom of apartment 1209. He turned and saw a young woman standing about ten feet away.

“I’ve been raped,” she said.

He took her to the security office, where the guards finally called the police. When patrolman Martin Atkins and his partner, Robert Mitchell, arrived at 2211 Geary, Arline was laughing hysterically. “It’s a nervous reaction,” she apologized. “You can check with my psychiatrist.” The two policemen questioned her, called for another radio car to take her to Pacific Hospital, and went up to 1209 to arrest the suspect. Patrolman Atkins knocked several times. When he got no response, the security man opened the door. They walked past a bathroom (p.73) to the left of the front door and a kitchen on the right, into the living room, and then into the bedroom, which was off to the left of the living room, right next to the bathroom. Fred was lying in bed, apparently asleep, dressed in jockey shorts. There was a splatter of what looked like bloodstains on the sheet. Patrolman Mitchell shook him awake. Atkins told him he was under arrest for rape and advised him of his rights. Fred Dumond said, “You’ve got to be kidding.”

Pacific Hospital boasts a model program for the treatment and counseling of rape victims. The project, initiated by a psychiatric nurse and a sociologist in 1972, has been an education for all concerned. “The emergency staff used to be into the whole phenomenon of blaming the victim,” says Joan Christiansen, assistant nursing director in charge of emergency services. “She was either drinking, or being seductive, or walking around at 3:00 a.m. Since we’ve had the program there has been a total change in attitude. Rape is a crisis. Different women react differently—some are upset, some calm, some in a state of shock—but every victim’s life is disrupted in four ways: physically, emotionally, socially, sexually.” At Pacific, nurses trained in counseling skills try to ease these disruptions by helping the rape victim to express her feelings and cope with specific problems, such as whether to press charges.

When Arline Hunt arrived in Pacific’s emergency room, a nurse met her and saw her through the hospital routine. After receiving her consent, a gynecology resident examined her genitals for injuries, took smears for sperm and for a gonorrhea culture, gave her a prophylactic shot of penicillin and morningafter pills. The nurse told her to be sure and get a follow-up examination, since rape victims often get vaginal and urinary infections.

At 5:00 a.m., a counselor came and listened to Arline’s story. Her report described Arline as “attractive, neatly dressed, cooperative, coherent, responding, pretty verbal.” After the interview Arline tried to call her roommates, forgot her own telephone number, and had to look it up. By the time the police took her home she didn’t feel like talking at all. Her period had started earlier that day and she was bleeding heavily. She hadn’t had a chance to clean up at the hospital—the doctor had explained that washing might destroy evidence—and she felt, as she put it later, “filthy and disgusting.” There was only one thing she wanted to do: take a shower.

… A few years ago, I signed up with a computer dating service. Dozens of men I knew absolutely nothing about had my address and phone number. They came to my apartment to pick me up, I went to theirs for drinks or dinner. It didn’t occur to me till years later how dangerous this was. Anything could have happened….

… We met in a bar. Like it or not, it’s one of the few ways to meet men in this city. I liked him; there weren’t any suspicious vibes. He did make a couple of jokes about my tits, but I put it down to normal (p.74) male obnoxiousness. He drove me home and I let him in because he said he had to use the bathroom….

… As I was unlocking the hall door, a man came up behind me. Itried to slam the door on him, but couldn’t. I was so embarrassed about acting paranoid that I apologized. I could have gone to a ground floor apartment and rung the bell or yelled, but I was afraid of being hysterical and paranoid and making a scene for nothing. So I just started walking casually upstairs. He followed me and pulled a knife….

… While he was raping me I started getting the strangest feeling that all this was somehow familiar. I realized that it wasn’t so different from times I’d fucked guys I didn’t really want to fuck because I couldn’t think of a graceful way to refuse….

—fragments from a consciousness-raising session on rape

When Arline talks about September 18 her voice takes on a sardonic edge, as if she were describing not only her own horror but the folly of the human condition.

“We stayed for a couple of hours after Bobbie left, maybe more. I liked him. He was funny; he was making me laugh. And he seemed to need someone to talk to. But I didn’t want to go out with him. He asked me and I said no, it’s been nice talking to you but this is it. I was trying to explain without being too blunt. He wasn’t my type. He was bragging about his money and that stuff doesn’t impress me.

“A friend of his came in and bought us a few beers. Then I said I had to leave. I got my coat and umbrella and gave him my pocketbook so I could put my coat on. We went outside and he hailed a cab—I assumed he was going to take me home. I asked him for my pocketbook. He said, ‘Wait a minute.’ We got in and he gave the cabdriver his address. I said, ‘Hey, I’ve got to go home, I’ve got to work tomorrow,’ and I told the driver to go to my place. Fred said, ‘No, we’ll work this out later.’ He gave his address again, and I gave mine again. The cabdriver just kept going to 2211 Geary. I thought well, this guy is being childish. He’s playing a little game. We got out in front of his building and I said, ‘Can I have it back now?’ and he went inside, and I followed him up in the elevator. I couldn’t leave without my pocketbook—it had my money, my keys, my identification, my Valium. Just everything I needed. And he was just ignoring me. I figured he’ll have his fun, he’ll have his little joke, and when he gets tired of it he’ll give me my pocketbook. I wasn’t scared at all. It didn’t occur to me. I meet a lot of guys who play these dumb games and it’s annoying but they’re not rapists. You can’t go around suspecting everybody.

“I followed him into his apartment and he slammed the door and stood in front of it. I said, ‘Okay, stop playing games, can I please have my pocketbook so (p.75) I can get a cab and go home?’ And he said, ‘You are not going anywhere.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ All of a sudden it was like he was a totally different person. The change in him was incredible. He said, ‘You are not going anywhere. Go in the bedroom and take your clothes off.’ I thought, I can’t take this seriously. I felt sick. Sick and weak. I said, ‘I promise I won’t tell anybody about this if you’ll just let me leave right now.’

“He pulled me into the bathroom and pushed me down on the side of the tub and went to the toilet and urinated. I was disgusted. I stood up and he pushed me down again. I picked up my umbrella and tried to use it against him, but he just pulled it away from me and started laughing. I still had my coat on. He pushed me into the bedroom and made a phone call to some guy. I don’t remember what they said. Then I started to feel really faint. I didn’t want to lie down, or it would be all over. So I asked him for a glass of water. He said, ‘All right, but don’t try anything.’ He went into the kitchen and I ran over to the phone and dialed the operator. [The kitchen was between the bedroom and the door.] But he got back too quickly and hung up the phone and said, ‘Don’t you do that again.’ And then he pushed me over to the bed.

“He pushed me down on the bed and I got back up again and he pushed me down again. I started screaming at the top of my lungs and he was saying, ‘Shut up, they are making me do this.’ And I said ‘Who?’ and he said, ‘I can’t tell you, but if you go out of here, they are going to get you anyway.’ And so I started to scream again because at this point I didn’t know what was happening and I didn’t care. I just wanted somebody to hear me or something to happen. Then he started pulling down my pants—they were stretchy with an elastic waist—and I was fighting him but finally he pulled them off, and my underpants. I tried to push my fingers in his neck, and I tried to get him in the groin but it didn’t work. He stuck his fingers into my throat so I couldn’t scream.

“I saw there was no point resisting. I was afraid of what he might do. I knew he was crazy. He had a violent temper, he kept yelling at me to shut up. And he was strong. I was afraid he would try to strangle me with my necklace or rip my earrings out, so I took them off. I took my top off.

“I told him I had my period and he said, ‘I don’t care,’ and ripped out my Tampax and threw it on the floor. He pinned my hands above my head. Then he got on top of me and had sexual intercourse and stuck his finger in the back part of me.

“After he stopped, I got off the bed. I saw my Tampax on the floor and I picked it up and said, ‘You’re disgusting!’ and threw it down again. He was still lying in bed. I dialed the operator and said, ‘There’s been a rape at this number.’ He grabbed the receiver and slammed it down. Then I called Bobbie. I felt al-most fearless at that point.

“I got dressed and got my pocketbook and umbrella out of the bathroom and ran out. He was yelling at me that I was stupid, I was the stupidest woman he’d ever seen. I ran down twelve flights of stairs.”

(p.76) A woman who grows up in a big city learns early that her purse is a third arm, never to be relinquished, least of all to a man she has just met at a bar. Perhaps Arline Hunt had not been in San Francisco long enough to abandon the sheltered, upper-middle-class mentality of Shelton for urban war-zone smarts.

Perhaps, on the other hand, something in her simply refused to live that way. “I can’t ask myself why did I do this or that. Why did I give him my pocketbook, why didn’t I scream in the cab. Because I know I wouldn’t have done anything different—I don’t mean now, knowing what I know, but then. I guess,” she says—that sardonic tone again—“I’m trusting, naive, dumb or whatever.”

A friend and occasional lover, an advertising writer named Gary, put it another way. “There’s something almost Zen about Arline: whatever will be will be, don’t expect much and don’t demand anything, just go along with whatever’s happening. Arline never asks, ‘What are we doing tonight?’ She just comes in and sits down and asks for a beer. I would say Arline has a deflated opinion of herself, but she doesn’t get bent out of shape. She likes to get fucked up and have a good time.”

When Arline went off to her parents’ alma mater, a small college in Kansas—ending up there because she hadn’t felt like shopping around for schools—she expected to hate it. But she met some good people and had good times. She smoked grass, and took speed to stay up all night writing her C papers, and experimented with acid, which made her laugh and laugh, magnifying the laughter to freaky proportions. After two years she quit and went home.

When she moved to San Francisco in 1973 it was without any great enthusiasm. She had been living with her parents for the last year, working at dull clerical jobs, and she was anxious to get away. The city itself did not excite her, but in the city she would have her friends.

People, relationships—what else really mattered? She hated her job as a clerk in a textbook company. She thought about finding something she would really like doing, perhaps something connected with art—she had been painting and drawing since childhood. Gary urged her to promote herself, to put together a portfolio and try to get a job designing greeting cards or place mats, but she never did.

So what it came down to was people and a good time. People who were sincere and not out for what they could get. People, she never failed to emphasize, who had an absurd sense of humor and could make her laugh.

Not that Arline’s life was all fun and games. For one thing, there was Graham. Graham was Arline’s first lover. They met when she was sixteen; he was out of high school and engaged. She thought he was an aggressive bastard and didn’t understand what was driving her to sleep with him. She hated it: it was un-comfortable, she was just doing it to please him, and she felt guilty besides.

All through college Arline went out with lots of men, but she didn’t have sex again until the summer she returned to Shelton. She fell in love with a young Englishman and agreed to marry him, but by the following winter she had (p.77) changed her mind. Shortly afterward she ran into Graham at a party. He was married by then, with two kids.

“I still thought he was obnoxious,” she recalls. “I don’t know why I went out with him, but I did—I had to give a fake name to my parents. I got used to him. He was always the hard-ass guy, but in another way he wasn’t, not really.”

The relationship turned into an intense love affair. For the first time Arline really enjoyed sex. She was also miserable, crazy, dependent. They talked about running away and living together; then Graham began avoiding her. When she confronted him, he admitted that he couldn’t leave his children. After that there were many goodbyes that didn’t stick. Once, soon after Arline had moved to San Francisco, he came down for a disastrous visit. “I had said I would see him, but no sex. He completely forced it; it was scary. He was always too aggressive and demanding. My roommates didn’t approve of him coming. I kept telling them not to worry, nothing was going to happen. So when he forced me I couldn’t scream. I didn’t want anyone to know. I just cried.” As usual she forgave him and the affair dragged on.

It was around the same time that the trouble at work began. The company provided a small lunchroom where most of the employees—the office staff and the men who worked in the shipping department—ate at noon. One day Arline was sitting at a table playing cards with a group of people when she saw one of the shippers staring at her. “I was frozen, I couldn’t look up. I had to stop playing. My body was uncontrollable. After that I tried sitting with my back to them. It just kept growing, a horrible feeling of anxiety. I was afraid to light a cigarette ’cause my hands were shaking. I started eating in the room I work in but it’s glassed in and the shippers work outside and they would just naturally look in. Before, there were always times when I would be nervous but it never affected me in such a physical way. Maybe part of it is living in the city.”

In August 1974, Arline began seeing a psychiatrist. Along with once-a-week therapy he prescribed Valium. At the time of her encounter with Fred Dumond she was taking five milligrams once or twice a day.

On September 19, at nine in the morning, Arline went to court to swear out her complaint. Bobbie went with her. They hadn’t slept. Arline was still in shock and spacey from pills, and she and Bobbie had noticed for the first time a bruise on each of her wrists. Trying to answer questions, she broke down. James Delaney, the assistant district attorney who would be handling her case, told her, to her relief—she was afraid of seeing Fred in court—that she didn’t need to hang around for the arraignment. At home she kept trying to erase the night, to pretend it never happened. “It was too weird, too sickening. I couldn’t remember things … even now it’s almost like it happened to someone else. But it was there.”

Arline’s parents were on vacation; when they came back the following week she called her mother. Arline says she never really considered not telling her parents, though she was apprehensive about their reaction. Her father, a biologist, (p.78) and her mother, a housewife constantly involved with community projects, were high-energy achievers and Arline felt they disapproved of her for not using her abilities. They were also conservative and religious and emotionally reserved, all of which made communication difficult. Her mother would have none of Arline’s attempt to explain that in her world Fred’s behavior was not so extraordinary as to arouse suspicion. “How could you not know something was happening? Why didn’t you tell the taxi driver this man had your pocketbook?” It was Arline’s first exposure to an attitude that would soon become familiar.

On October 10, Arline had to appear for a probable cause hearing, at which a judge would decide whether the prosecution had enough of a case to present to a grand jury. The decision went in Arline’s favor, but the hearing was traumatic. Fred Dumond attended but did not testify. He watched impassively as his lawyer, Burton C. Scott of the prestigious local firm of Frazier, Frazier and Santini, a man with a reputation for toughness and a glass eye that made his stare frightening, introduced Arline to the art of cross-examination.

“He was trying to catch me on every detail, twisting everything I said. In a situation like that you’re not thinking, ‘I’m gonna get raped, I’d better plan my strategy for the trial.’ You’re just thinking about wanting to get out of there. Times and sequences aren’t on your mind.

“I was freaking out, one of the policemen was telling me to calm down. The lawyer brought up my psychiatrist and my pills. I may have my problems, but I’m not crazy. Then he asked me how I knew I was penetrated. I said, ‘I could feel it.’ He said, ‘Oh, so you’ve felt that sensation before.’ The D.A. objected to that one.”

Bobbie also testified briefly. “It was brutal. The defense lawyer was trying to confuse Arline, make her feel stupid. He scared her to death. And all these old men up for other cases were standing around, watching and laughing, and Arline having to say, ‘Well, if you want to be explicit, he put his penis inside me.’”

Arline considered dropping the case, but decided she had to go through with it: “I couldn’t see letting him get away with it. I couldn’t see just letting a sick person like that out on the street.” She felt a rage at the thought that Dumond might get off. Her friends, trying to prepare her for the worst, were warning her how difficult it was to get rape convictions. Bobbie had seen the TV documentary A Case of Rape: the rapist had been acquitted and the victim and her husband had ended up getting divorced. “At first I couldn’t face that possibility. The unfairness of it. I didn’t know what I’d do. After a while I resigned myself. I knew the way things were run, he’d probably be acquitted. I already felt defeated.” Gary told her she ought to look on the whole thing as a learning experience about the real world.

The case went to the grand jury, and Arline had to tell her story once more. Months passed; the trial was postponed twice, aggravating her anxiety and depression. She got scared walking around the neighborhood. She lost weight. Her psychiatrist doubled her dose of Valium. The atmosphere in the apartment (p.79) was funereal; nothing much was funny these days. At this low point she decided to call her brother in Los Angeles and tell him the whole story.

He hadn’t heard it before. Arline’s parents had, after the initial shock, been sympathetic and concerned; they supported, even admired, her decision to prosecute. Yet they were obviously still touchy about the subject, for they hadn’t said a word to anyone, including their three other children. Arline did not have much contact with her only brother, who was older and married, but she identified with him because he too had refused to do the expected: after going to graduate school in physics, he had decided he didn’t like it and was driving a school bus. His wife was a student and a feminist. At her suggestion Arline got in touch with the Women’s Law Commune in Berkeley; a lawyer there promised to check on the D.A.’s investigation to make sure all leads were being pursued.

In February, Arline met a computer programmer named David at a bar called Storey’s, and they started going out. “My feelings about sex hadn’t changed,” she says. “I knew Dumond was really sick, that all men weren’t like that. One thing I was secure in was his sickness.” But she was upset when David made skeptical noises about her story, when he too wanted to know, come on now, really, why did you go up there in the first place….

Three days before the trial, Arline and Bobbie had dinner at Hal’s Pub. Bobbie, facing the door, saw two men walk in. “Arline,” she said, “put your head down on the table and don’t look up. Dumond and his friend are here.” They both put their heads down. When they looked up again a few minutes later, the men were gone.

Q:

  • Would you describe your clothing, Miss Hunt? You describe having underpants on under your slacks. Did you have anything on underneath your sweater?
  • A:

  • No.
  • Q:

  • You had no bra on, did you
  • ?

    A:

  • No.
  • Q:

  • Have you ever been raped before
  • ?

    A:

  • No, I haven’t.
  • Q:

  • Did you ever scratch this man
  • ?

    A:

  • I tried to put my finger in his throat.
  • Q:

  • Did you ever scratch this man
  • ?

    A:

  • No.
  • Q:

  • How long were you fighting him
  • ?

    A:

  • I don’t know.
  • Q:

  • According to your testimony there was a struggle the whole time, was there not
  • ?

    A:

  • My fingernails are not long enough to be able to harm anybody.
  • Q:

  • Did you ever bite him
  • ?

    A:

  • No.
  • (p.80) Q:

  • Did you ever land a kick?
  • A:

  • Did I what?
  • Q:

  • Did you land a kick, did you ever really kick him?
  • A:

  • I tried to.
  • Q:

  • And during this whole time you were not able to inflict an injury on him, is that so
  • ?

    A:

  • He was stronger than I was, and I couldn’t.
  • Q:

  • During this struggle, Miss Hunt, were you injured? Did you get any cuts—
  • A:

  • I got bruises on my wrists where he held them above my head.
  • Q:

  • Did you show them to the doctor at the hospital
  • ?

    A:

  • No, because I didn’t notice them until the next day, and other people did notice them.
  • Q:

  • Did you see him put his penis inside
  • ?

    A:

  • No, I didn’t see it.
  • Q:

  • And didn’t you tell the district attorney when he asked you on direct examination that you don’t think that he had a climax?
  • (Delaney objects and is overruled.) A: I didn’t know. I didn’t say I didn’t think.

    Q:

  • All right. You didn’t know. So would it be fair to say you didn’t feel what you might have felt was a climax, would that be a fair statement
  • ?

    A:

  • I don’t know what he had. I don’t know if he had a climax or not.
  • Q:

  • When were you finally able to get out of that apartment
  • ?

    A:

  • I don’t know the time.
  • Q:

  • What time did you call your girlfriend Bobbie from the apartment
  • ?

    A:

  • I told you I thought it was probably around 3:00, 2:30 or 3:00, something like that.
  • Q:

  • Would it refresh your memory if I told you that you said earlier that it was somewhere around 3:30
  • ?

    A:

  • I don’t know the exact time. I told you that before.
  • Q:

  • If it was somewhere around 3:00, is it your testimony from the time you got there at about 1:00 until about 3:00, you were on the bed struggling, two hours
  • ?

    A:

  • I don’t know how long it was.
  • Q:

  • How long did it take him to urinate in the bathroom
  • ?

    A:

  • Do you think I had a watch on and I was looking at it? (Delaney objects and is overruled.)
  • Q:

  • Was it more than five minutes
  • ?

    A:

  • I don’t know. (Before the judge in a closed hearing):
  • Q:

  • Have you ever tried to injure yourself
  • ?

    A:

  • No, I haven’t.
  • (p.81) Q:

  • Have you ever tried to commit suicide
  • ?

    A:

  • No, I haven’t.
  • Q:

  • You hesitated. Is there any reason why you hesitated, Miss Hunt
  • ?

    A:

  • Only because I think this is a little bit personal and doesn’t pertain to what’s going on.
  • —excerpts from the cross-examination of Arline Hunt

    Jim Delaney knew that People v. Dumond would be a stinker. Arline Hunt had gone to a man’s apartment from a dating bar, and her pocketbook story (witnessed only by an anonymous cabbie the police had been unable to find) was hard to believe if you didn’t know her. It also helped to know that rapes originating in these dating bars were becoming more and more common, becoming a pattern. Women were starting to be more aware of the risks, but there would always be people who took chances; a recent rash of hitchhiking murders in the Bay Area had not stopped thousands of women from hitchhiking.

    It was also damaging that Arline had taken off her shirt and jewelry—though Delaney’s wife had told him that having an earring torn out was one of her own big fears ever since it had happened to a friend of hers taking off a sweater. Finally, the doctor who examined Arline hadn’t found any sperm, nor had he noticed her bruises, which weren’t, in any case, impressive injuries.

    Still, Delaney wasn’t entirely pessimistic. The Hollises had agreed to testify. John was actually flying in from Chicago, where he was working on a temporary assignment. Maureen was not happy to be living alone at 2211 Geary, with Fred Dumond still next door; she worried that if she testified he might try to get even in some way. But she felt it was her duty to come forward. Besides being ultrarespectable, they were simply nice, obviously morally concerned people—ideal witnesses from a credibility standpoint. Delaney hoped they could convince a jury that Arline had been screaming for twenty minutes in the next apartment.

    The trial of Fred Louis Dumond for rape, including a lesser charge of assault with intent to rape, began on March 3, 1975. The presiding judge was Andrew P. Blackburn, a highly respected jurist with a reputation—even among liberals who disliked his hard-nosed law-and-order stance—for meticulous fairness. Philip Pacetta, another attorney from Frazier, Frazier, had taken over the defense from Scott, who had a prior commitment. The three-woman nine-man jury was predominantly white, middle-aged, and working-class.

    Arline and Bobbie arrived together. They were, according to Gary, “a mess—emaciated, untogether, out of control of the situation.” For the fourth time Arline faced having to re-create the details of September 18. “Usually I could just not think about it. Going through it all, again and again—that was the worst part.” At the grand jury hearing a jury member had said, “Just tell the story—you don’t have to relive it.”

    Delaney put Arline on the stand first. Her direct testimony went quickly; (p.82) most of the day and part of the next were devoted to cross-examination. Pacetta was a younger, less formidable man than Scott, not so inclined to verbal brutality, and Judge Blackburn kept him more or less under control. The prosecution won a crucial point when Blackburn refused to admit Arline’s psychiatrist and tranquilizers as evidence of mental instability; after allowing Pacetta to pursue the question voir dire (without the jury present), he ruled that it was prejudicial and irrelevant: “I find that no issue arises by reason of the young lady drinking beer and taking Valium at the same time such as would affect her memory or her ability to recall events or would cause her to imagine things that never took place…. I find in the second place that the lady has never had any history of imagining things.” Still, the interrogation was an ordeal.

    “I felt the lawyer was trying to make a fool of me. He wanted exact times, situations, positions, over and over again. I would forget things and he would trip me up. He would bring up discrepancies from the minutes of the probable cause hearing. Most of these things were irrelevant little details, but to the jury it would look like I was lying. There was a rip in my pants; I hadn’t noticed it till after probable cause. The lawyer tried to make me say I’d testified that they weren’t ripped. I just hadn’t noticed it. He kept trying to make me admit to lies: ‘Isn’t it a fact that you were kissing?’ He even brought up seeing Dumond in Hal’s Pub. As if we were there to meet him. As if we had a date.”

    Bobbie sat in the courtroom, living Arline’s misery. Two old men sitting next to her were snoring. She could hear others making cracks about Arline, snickering when she had to talk about her period, agreeing that, boy, she had sure screwed up her story now. “She was on trial,” Bobbie said flatly. “If you hated the guy and wanted to murder him, you wouldn’t want to go through it—except for principle. She would get confused. What time? What time? It was six months ago and there were obviously things she wanted to block out. She was on the verge of breaking down half the time.”

    Arline was finally dismissed and the remaining prosecution witnesses took up the rest of the second day. Delaney had some small successes: He got Officer Atkins to testify that he had noticed Arline’s bruises and mentioned them to Delaney at the September 19 complaint hearing; and he established that the hospital’s negative sperm report was inconclusive. The examining physician testified that menstrual blood could flush out sperm and that because of Arline’s flow he had been unable to see whether seminal fluid was present or not. He had simply taken his sample from the area where it was most likely to accumulate. Delaney asked if his findings meant that Arline’s vagina contained no sperm. He answered, “No…. I can only say that in the sample I took, there was no sperm.”

    But the crucial witness was John Hollis. He recounted what he had heard and done and made as good an appearance as Delaney had hoped. On cross-examination, however, there was a brief skirmish that would prove significant:

    (p.83) Q:

  • And isn’t it a fact, Mr. Hollis, that on this particular night you told the security guard that you thought the noises were coming from the eleventh floor?
  • A:

  • No, I don’t recall that I said they were coming from the eleventh floor. I said since sound does travel, that was the reason I went out to see if there was any question, but the light was on in the room next to my bedroom.
  • The following morning, the defense began by calling the supervisor of security for 2211 Geary Boulevard. Pacetta had him read into the record an entry from the security office log for September 19: “2:35 … received call from tenant in apartment 1210 complaining about a loud noise and screaming coming from the 11th floor (he thinks).” Next, Fred’s friend took the stand and testified that at Jewel’s “Arline and Fred were talking, and all of a sudden she put her arms around him and pulled him close to her and whispered something.” The third witness was Fred Dumond.

    There was some disagreement among courtroom staffers, journalists, and other observers about Dumond’s effectiveness as a witness. Some were impressed with his suntanned good looks, his sophisticated, expensive suit, and his calm confidence. Others thought he was a bit too smooth and sure of himself, that he was, as one veteran trial watcher put it, “a real con man.” There were rumors about Dumond’s behavior with women he had interviewed at his agency. He had two felony convictions—one for receiving stolen TV sets, the other for stealing from an employer—that Delaney was permitted to introduce for the purpose of impeaching his credibility. Even his lawyer didn’t like him; Fred had been upset about Pacetta’s taking over his case and relations between them had been strained. Months after the trial, Pacetta would comment that Fred had presented himself as “shallow” and “a swinger.” In fact, Pacetta argued, it was just this image that made him credible: Why would a ladies’ man like him have to rape anybody?

    Fred’s account contradicted Arline’s in nearly every particular. She said he hadn’t bought any of her drinks; he claimed he had. He swore that she never gave him her pocketbook. They were not arguing in the cab but kissing. At his apartment they petted on the couch in the living room, then moved to the bedroom, kissing, fondling, undressing. At one point Arline went to the bathroom, and he heard the toilet flush. After she came back, he put his fingers in her vagina and noticed that she was menstruating. (Obviously what she had flushed was her Tampax.) He was disgusted and asked her to leave. She got angry and upset. They argued; there was some “fairly loud” but not “excessively loud” yelling. Arline called her roommate and accused him of rape. He got furious and hung up the phone. He said, “Get the hell out of my house—you are a nut.” She yelled at him some more, then left.

    (p.84) Delaney’s cross-examination worried one point and another, but he was unable to ruffle Dumond’s cool. He began their last exchange by asking, “Did you hear her scream at all?”

    A:

  • Scream, no.
  • Q:

  • Did you hear anybody scream
  • ?

    A:

  • I don’t recall hearing—hearing screaming at that point.
  • Q:

  • Arline never screamed
  • ?

    A:

  • She was talking in a rather hysterical voice, but she wasn’t screaming, no.
  • Q:

  • Did you hear her scream “Help me, help me, God help me?”
  • A:

  • No. I didn’t. She never said that.
  • Dumond stepped down and, after a last minor witness, the defense rested.

    On the fourth and last day of the trial Delaney introduced a rebuttal witness: Maureen Hollis. She testified that when she first awakened, she had thought the sounds might be coming from the eleventh floor. But after a few minutes, she had been quite certain they came from next door. She described them as “blood-curdling screams and shrieks.”

    Then came closing arguments. In his summation Pacetta used the phrase “dating bar” fourteen times. He reminded the jury that Arline had been having a good time at Jewel’s; that she had not protested to the cabdriver or anyone else that Fred had her pocketbook; that he had not forced her to go home with him; that she had taken off some of her clothing; that she had not seen the defendant penetrate or felt him climax; that no sperm was found; that the security report specified the eleventh floor. He suggested that Arline’s testimony was confused and inconsistent, that she had spent more time at Fred’s than her story accounted for. If Fred was going to rape her, Pacetta wondered, would he take her to his own home? Let her call her roommate? Bring her a glass of water? Go to sleep afterward? In short, did this attractive, well-dressed young man look like a rapist?

    Delaney argued that Arline had no reason to be afraid of Fred before he slammed the door; that she had taken off her things out of fear; that she didn’t have to see the penetration to know it happened; that she wasn’t concentrating on the defendant’s climax but on her own anguish; that the sperm report wasn’t definitive; that no one had kept track of time that night; that it could have been almost 2:00 before they got to the apartment; that no one, let alone a terrified woman who had just been raped, could remember everything; did the jurors recall every detail of, say, their last accident? On the contrary, it was the defendant’s memory (“we did this for fifteen minutes, this for twenty”) that was too good to be believed. Why, if Arline was lying, would she make up something as far out as the story about watching him urinate? Or admit taking off clothes? In fact, why would she subject herself to all this—a complaint session, a probable (p.85) cause hearing, and now this trial? Who was more believable: this woman who had nothing to gain except the mortification of testifying about these indignities committed upon her, or this man with a criminal record, on trial for rape—this man who professed to be so repelled by Arline’s bleeding, yet went to sleep on the bloodstained sheets? But all this aside, one thing could not be explained away: the screaming the Hollises had heard. Not mere loud argument, but “terrifying,” “blood-curdling” screams.

    One argument Delaney didn’t make had the courtroom habitués shaking their heads. Was it likely that this man-of-the-world, who had so many women falling all over him that he didn’t have to rape anybody, would get so upset about a girl having her period? Whatever had happened up there, that, they agreed, sounded farfetched. Later, Phil Pacetta would argue, with the characteristic ironic undertone that made his out-of-court defenses of Dumond sound more like insults, “He had wined her and dined her, investing all that time in a potential score—and at the last minute he finds out she’s bleeding. Why should he get involved with a woman who’s bleeding all over the place? He felt that she was out to rape him!”

    At Delaney’s suggestion Arline stayed away from the courtroom the day Fred testified. “I’m glad I wasn’t there. I would have freaked out when he told that story. When I heard what it was, I thought, he’s got to be kidding. I was really happy because I figured he didn’t have much of a chance. I called my mother and asked her if she would believe what he said. She said, ‘I’m prejudiced but it sounds fishy to me.’

    “I couldn’t tell much about the jury. There was one older woman who kept giving me scrutinizing looks; I didn’t know if she was just concentrating or what. But I honestly thought that they couldn’t believe his story.”

    The jury went out at 3:00 p.m. and deliberated for four hours. Since the court session was over for the day, the judge ordered the verdict sealed. In the morning the foreman announced it: “Not guilty.” Judge Blackburn told the jurors to be seated and asked the clerk to poll them. This was a routine procedure on a guilty verdict; it was rarely done for an acquittal. Something was up. One by one, the jurors confirmed their verdict: not guilty. Judge Blackburn directed the clerk to affirm the verdict. Then, with barely controlled anger, he began:

    “It is almost impossible in this county to get a conviction of rape…. I am reluctantly coming to the conclusion, whether it is the permissive society or what we are living in, at least as far as jurors are concerned, rape is no longer a crime. And when we have a trial, instead of trying the defendant, you make the poor girl the defendant…. You have seen television programs, girls don’t report rape for the humiliation involved in it, the degradation they go through in the trial…. They are made the defendant, and they walk out of this courtroom with one thought in their mind: in our courts there is no justice for the victims of rape. And I can’t say that I disagree with them.

    “How many countless rapes are committed and never hit the courtroom (p.86) because of the way jurors treat rape victims. I don’t know, but it has gotten to be almost a national scandal. … And if you jurors believe the girls who are victims of this kind of violent sexual assault aren’t entitled to the protection of our juries, just like the defendants are, then it is a sick society.

    “Now I am coming to this case. You had two responsible citizens of this state, irreproachable of integrity and principles, who testified before you that they heard screaming there for twenty minutes. Can it be, ladies and gentlemen, that you believed the screaming, terrified girl, with blood-curdling calls, consented to the advances of this defendant? Can you disbelieve those people? And can you believe a defendant who stood with two convictions, one that he was a thief and the other that he dealt in stolen property? … Believe him and disbelieve them? Well, that’s what you have done….

    “I wish I could say to you that you performed your jury service in the highest traditions of this state, and I can’t.”

    He ended by summarily dismissing them from jury duty for the rest of their terms.

    The day the verdict came down, Arline was at work. When she didn’t hear from Jim Delaney, she called his office. She had to pry the information out of him. Did they come to a decision? Yes. What was it? Well, it’s gonna be in the paper tomorrow. What does that mean? What do you think? Not guilty. Arline began to cry. Then Delaney told her about the judge’s speech.

    Blackburn’s rebuke transformed People v. Dumond from a routine rape case—a “swearing contest,” in courthouse parlance—to a controversial one. Local feminists were delighted; most defense lawyers were outraged at what they regarded as an attempt to intimidate juries. An exception was Philip Pacetta, who not only defended Blackburn’s right to speak but when asked if he agreed with the judge’s comments said: “The record speaks for itself.”

    The jurors themselves were, for the most part, disturbed and angry. One woman juror called Blackburn’s action “a rape of the jury system” and wrote a letter of protest to the chief justice of the California Supreme Court demanding that Blackburn apologize to the jurors in open court. A male juror declared, “To be blunt, I think the judge is nuts.”

    To Arline, Blackburn’s statement was a boost. It showed that at least she wasn’t a joke, soothed her fears that people were laughing at her and thinking she was a liar. It made her feel a little less defeated. Then she read an article in an underground paper that quoted one juror as saying, “I thought just the way the others did. She was as guilty as he was. If she hangs around a place like that, she deserves everything she gets.” The casual cruelty of the remark—“someone’s torn ego using me as a punching bag”—was only part of what outraged her. If she “deserved what she got,” that implied that she “got” something, which meant that this juror hadn’t believed Fred Dumond when he denied having sex with her: “Some fine upstanding citizen, to condone perjury (p.87) and then sit in judgment of me!” That perception, as the comments of other jurors would confirm, was essentially accurate. Whatever one thought of the propriety of Blackburn’s outburst (or, for that matter, of the verdict itself), his target was well chosen.

    In some ways Arline Hunt had been more fortunate than most rape complainants. The police had treated her considerately—although, according to a source at the courthouse, they were privately incredulous at her story—and so had Pacific Hospital. The Women’s Law Commune agreed that the D.A. had conducted an excellent investigation. Opinions on Delaney’s role in court were mixed. “Delaney is a type,” said a local journalist. “A San Francisco old boy, hale and hearty. I wouldn’t call him any kind of hero. I doubt that he really cared about the case before Blackburn made it into a big thing.” Gary complained that Delaney smiled too much. “He wasn’t as distressed as he should have been. I didn’t feel that Arline had a good relationship with him. She was a docile client and he was none too aggressive.” Delaney himself worried that he was not aggressive enough in cross-examining Fred. “He was such a smooth bastard: I was in a dilemma as to whether there was anything I could do to break his story or whether badgering would just solidify it.” But there were other people—Arline was one—who felt he had tried very hard to win.

    The trial itself, unpleasant as it was, could have been much worse. Arline was not, for example, subjected to an inquisition on her sexual experience. And another judge might have allowed the defense to bring up her psychiatric treatment. Except for Pacetta’s emphasis on dating bars and bralessness, the trial had probably been as fair as the adversary system—with its built-in potential for harassing witnesses and confusing the jury with side issues—allowed.

    The basic problem was that the jury reflected the nature of the jury pool, which in San Francisco as elsewhere is mainly drawn from the most conservative segment of the population. Transients are grossly underrepresented, young people and the conspicuously educated almost always challenged. Moreover, most states make it easier for women to be excused from serving, though the effect of such policies on rape trials is not as obvious as it might appear: not only are most female jurors conservative, elderly housewives who tend to disapprove of sexually active single women, but many women seem to feel a defensive need to blame the rape victim in order to reassure themselves that “it could never happen to me.” In any case, the three women on Fred Dumond’s jury—all of them over fifty—were as actively in favor of acquittal as most of the men. During a recess a court official overheard two of the women jurors talking in the corridor; they agreed that by going to a bar and not wearing a bra, Arline Hunt was “asking for it.” And one woman, acting as a technical adviser to the male jurors, assured them that it was impossible to remove a Tampax by force—a patent absurdity.

    What was decisive, for the majority of jurors, was simply that Arline had gone to a man’s apartment—no one took the pocketbook story seriously—and (p.88) was therefore fair game. They had surprisingly little trouble rationalizing the screams: “You hear screaming—maybe it’s serious, maybe not. She was half in the bag. Sometimes you entice a person and then get scared.” “The screaming didn’t carry any weight—I think the words were put in [the witness’s] mouth. There weren’t any marks on her.” “Women scream for many reasons.” “It came from the eleventh floor.” “It was overdramatized, there wasn’t enough evidence. No blood in the hall or anything like that.” Few of the jurors seemed to care much whether Fred’s story was true and some were explicitly skeptical; the man who had called Blackburn “nuts” said flatly, “He didn’t impress me. I couldn’t say I believed him any more than I believed her.”

    Two of the men fought for conviction, but Donald Peterson, a thirty-two-year-old laborer and bartender, was the only juror who would admit to doubts about the verdict. “I was for conviction,” Peterson said, “but it looked to me like we weren’t going to convict. And there was a little doubt—no physical evidence, gaps in time, the stuff about the Tampax. Assault I could have gone with, but to put a guy away for fifteen years for rape…. I felt sorry for her. She ran into a dude who wouldn’t take no for an answer. The women were impressed with him but to me he looked like a real rat bastard. I meet a lot of guys like him where I work, and if he took out my sister, I’d be waiting up. Yeah, I believe she really screamed. But that kid would have had to have her arms broken before they would believe her. Except for one guy, who was trying to tell them, ‘You’re trying the girl, not the guy.’ I had second thoughts then. I still do.”

    Shortly after the trial, Fred Dumond dissolved his business, was evicted from his apartment—probably at the instigation of the Hollises—and disappeared. At Arline Hunt’s apartment something like normality began to reassert itself. Then in early June, Arline quit her job. She had been feeling much better—or so Bobbie had thought—but now her depression deepened again. She felt that a man she was seeing was putting her off, that a girlfriend was rejecting her. One day she was talking on the phone to her married sister in Michigan and began to feel that her sister wanted to hang up. When she got off the phone she was crying. While Bobbie was in the bathroom, she took every pill in the house, then told Bobbie what she had done. She spent a month in the private psychiatric hospital with which her doctor is affiliated. After her release, she began looking for another job.

    Rolling Stone, 1975

    Notes

    Editor’s note: All names, places, dates, and other identifying details have been changed to protect the anonymity of participants in the case discussed. Shortly after “The Trial of Arline Hunt” was published in Rolling Stone, Willis ran into then–New Yorker editor William Shawn in the hallway. Upon complimenting the piece, he remarked that he “could never publish something like that.” At that moment, Willis knew her New Yorker days were over.