I am currently researching the case of William J. Hetherington, a man who has served over twenty years in prison because he was convicted of raping his wife Linda during their separation. He maintains that the rape never occurred and his cause has found prominent champions such as Phyllis Schlafly and the National Coalition of Free Men.
So far, I have only found sources that depict Hetherington as a likely victim of a miscarriage of justice. My research is far from complete so my readers should take my observations on the case as tentative.
The seemingly most thorough source I have found on this case is Ã¢â‚¬Å“Complexities cloud marital rape caseÃ¢â‚¬Â by Cathy Young. It was the August 1, 1994 cover story for Insight on the News, a magazine owned by Rev. Sun Myung MoonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Unification Church. Some may be suspicious of anything connected with the Ã¢â‚¬Å“MooniesÃ¢â‚¬Â but YoungÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s piece at least appears to have the markings of solid and professional reportage.
I cannot quote too much from YoungÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s article without infringing on her intellectual property. The link to that article is http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1571/is_n31_v10/ai_15674644/pg_2.
To understand this blog, my reader must first read YoungÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s article as much of my writing will be commentary on it.
Young writes that there were Ã¢â‚¬Å“several timesÃ¢â‚¬Â when Ã¢â‚¬Å“Linda would accuse her husband of raping her.Ã¢â‚¬Â
This reminds me of a radio call-in program I heard on rape. A man called in who had two things to say. The first was to ask if there was such a thing as a Ã¢â‚¬Å“habitual rape victim.Ã¢â‚¬Â His question did not mean he doubted the existence of rape as his second statement was to introduce a woman with him whom he said had survived an attempted rape.
One of the guests on the program acknowledged that there are Ã¢â‚¬Å“habitual rape victimsÃ¢â‚¬Â and spoke of trying to find out if they were lying or hallucinating. I also recall reading an article on rape that stated that a mentally disturbed woman regularly called either police or rape crisis lines to say that newscaster Roger Mudd was climbing through her window.
It seems to me that when someone has Ã¢â‚¬Å“several timesÃ¢â‚¬Â told authorities that she (or he, although it would probably usually be she) has been the victim of a sex crime, it would behoove authorities to order a thorough psychiatric work-up on the complainant. It is not at all impossible for someone to have been victimized multiple times but a pattern of accusation gives rise to the possibility that the complainant is either trying to manipulate the system or hallucinating and these possibilities should be checked out. YoungÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s article gives no evidence that any such examination was done on Linda Hetherington.
Young details LindaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s version of the rape that was prosecuted. I find it a description of a gaspingly horrible crime.
William insists that no forced sex took place. Rather, he says that Linda made sexual overtures to which he happily responded and the separated couple engaged in sexual intercourse.
After WilliamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s arrest, Young continues, he could not post bond because his assets had been frozen in divorce court. The matter of the frozen assets hangs heavily over this case as it appears to have put this defendant in a kind of classic Catch-22 bind. He had assets and therefore was not declared indigent and so was ineligible to have court-appointed counsel. However, the freezing of the assets meant that he could not use them! It seems obvious to me that frozen assets should be considered as good as no assets in determining a defendantÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s financial status.
Young writes, Ã¢â‚¬Å“A pelvic examination at the hospital three hours after the incident showed no evidence of forced penetration Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a fact that the doctor who examined Linda described on the stand as Ã¢â‚¬Ëœvery unusual.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Ã¢â‚¬Â
Perhaps the oddest part of LindaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s story, at least as reported by Young, is LindaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s assertion that William flushed packaging tape with which he had gagged her, together with gloves he wore during the attack, and even their underwear down the toilet.
Huh? That would seem to make for one clogged-up can. While someone in a panic after a crime might indeed attempt to flush such bulky items, it hardly seems likely that they would have swirled obligingly down the commode without blocking up the tank. Yet Young reports that the police did not even try to recover this vital evidence up from the pipes!
However, a jury convicted William. Why? YoungÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s article does not really give a convincing explanation although it notes that two police officers saw what they believed to be masking tape marks on LindaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s and testified to this. Young also writes that the medical examination found no evidence that tape had been on her face. There was other evidence, as readers of YoungÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s piece should know, but the total case appears weak.
The juryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s verdict is a puzzle to this writer. Judge Thomas YeotisÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sentence is an equal one. Young writes that MichiganÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sentencing guidelines would have suggested Ã¢â‚¬Å“a sentence of six to 10 years.Ã¢â‚¬Â The judge sentenced him to 15 to 30 years. Young quotes Yeotis as saying, Ã¢â‚¬Å“You come into court, Mr. Hetherington, and you make a nice appearance and yet, thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s something about you that disturbs me.Ã¢â‚¬Â
In other words, this judge more than doubled what his stateÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sentencing guidelines say a defendant should be sentenced to simply because the defendant rubbed him the wrong way.
Some of my readers believe this case means that there should be no laws against spousal rape — even when the parties are separated. Young writes that William has supporters who have no quarrel with the law under which he was convicted but believe he has been unjustly imprisoned under it.
One conclusion I draw from this case is that a defendant who is indigent without assets that are frozen should be considered Ã¢â‚¬â€œ well, indigent. Not to do so flies in the face of reality.
Phyllis Schlafly writes in a column on this case that can be found at http://www.eagleforum.org/column/2006/feb06/06-02-08.html that the parole board has repeatedly denied William parole because the Ã¢â‚¬Å“prisoner denies the offense.Ã¢â‚¬Â I believe this reason for parole denial should be excluded by law because it presumes a perfection that no system of justice can ever achieve.
I would like to do more research on this case. However, what IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve read so far leads to the conclusion that much went awry in the prosecution and incarceration of William J. Hetherington. It seems quite possible that authorities were attempting to make an example of him to, as a prosecutor stated, Ã¢â‚¬Å“let the women of this world know this is not tolerated.Ã¢â‚¬Â Thus, he may have become a scapegoat in the feminist campaign to punish husbands for sexually coercing themselves upon their wives.
If this is so, HetheringtonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s case resembles that of Leo Frank, who was a victim in the 1910s of an industrializing societyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fear for the safety of female factory workers and of comedian Roscoe Ã¢â‚¬Å“FattyÃ¢â‚¬Â Arbuckle, who was a victim of the concern in the 1920s with HollywoodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s supposed sexual exploitation of women.
To learn more, and/or learn how to aid Hetherington, I suggest my readers visit not only the websites suggested above but the following as well: http://www.geocities.com/tiluser/wils_page.html and http://ncfm.org/william-hetherington.html.