Editor’s letter to the editor re Rough Sex

Ξ October 6th, 2007 | → | ∇ the boston phoenix |

The Guide Magazine
PO Box 990593
Boston, MA 02199

(617) 266-8557, fax (617) 266-1125


Kudos to Harvey Silverglate and Joshua Gewolb for warning your readers (in “Rough Sex,” Aug 1-8, 2002) that Middlesex County District Attorney Martha Coakley is crusading to brand those who engage in consensual, adult/adult S&M sex as dangerous perverts deserving commitment to a prison euphemistically labeled a “treatment center.”

Silverglate and Gewolb rightly note that Al Baker, who has consistently maintained his innocence and is currently being held at the Nemansket Correctional Facility in Bridgewater, has had his privileged attorney/client mail seized and has been denied access to literature key to preparing his defense. However, the civil liberties violations suffered by Baker (and thousands of others similarly situated) are myriad.

Baker’s initial 1991 trial, in which he was convicted of two counts of raping a 29-year-old man, was a travesty. Baker’s accuser waited months before alleging the mutual oral sex they had on a series of Saturday nights was rape. In fact, he continued to see (and have sex with!) Baker after he had testified about his “rape” before a grand jury. He offered no coherent reason why he waited so long to report his “rape” nor why he continued to socialize with Baker, lending credence to Baker’s assertion that he was set up by Teamsters (the key police informants were union officials) livid with Baker’s company’s role in providing non-union labor to striking work sites.

At the trial, prosecutors played a redacted videotape of Baker’s self-taped S&M frolics with other like-minded adults, none of whom had anything to do with the alleged victim– who neither saw any of the tapes nor participated in any of the kinky activities portrayed. Though those appearing in the tapes all testified for Baker, the damage was done as the court saw Baker as a growling master of rough sex.

Pursuant to his rape arrest, Baker’s home was ransacked. Among the 3000 or so images found on the gay bulletin board system Baker ran, prosecutors alleged that 22 models were under age 18, and thus their pictures constituted child pornography. Though the models were all young adults who could as easily be 23 as 17, lacking proof of age, Baker was charged with 187 counts of “child sexual exploitation,” one count for anytime anyone anywhere on the planet downloaded one of the suspect images (the likes of which can be found on mainstream web sites maintained by Yahoo and similar ventures).

Having served ten years as a rapist (who never raped) and a sexual exploiter of children (who never touched a child), Baker is now threatened by lifetime incarceration by Middlesex County prosecutors. A paid-by-the-state “expert” Ira F. Silverman, after reviewing only paperwork supplied by prosecutors– never seeing or speaking with Baker, swore that Baker was “sexually dangerous.” Silverman testified that because Baker owned “twenty or so” sex toys, because he like to cruise for sex with other like-minded adults, and because he enjoyed S&M sex, he was sick and in need of “treatment.” Silverman, whose legendary quackery has earned him the moniker “Dr. Dildo,” flirted with perjury by omitting in his report key language from the psychiatric manual which distinguishes between “real” and “simulated” sadistic activities. (Baker carefully staged his S&M scenes with other willing adult participants; his sadism was clearly “simulated,” not “real.”)

And Middlesex County contends that Baker’s refusal to participate in a sex offender treatment program confirms his dangerousness. But if he were to participate, nothing he said to clinicians (who would be probing for his deepest sexual fantasies) would be confidential– everything he said would be recorded and used against him in court, even if it had nothing to do with his alleged “crimes.” Clearly, no one with competent counsel would agree to divulge sex secrets to a policeman masquerading as a doctor.

Additionally, Middlesex County is looking to resurrect that redacted videotape to once-again inflame the court that will be deciding Baker’s fate. But prosecutors conveniently cannot locate any of the other voluminous, potentially exculpatory, evidence seized for Baker’s initial trial.

The spectacular sex hysteria that currently grips our culture means that egregious abridgments of constitutional rights are condoned by judges fearful of landing on the front page as “soft on child molesters” and that prosecutors like Martha Coakley (who made her career prosecuting innocent people accused of literally unbelievable daycare abuses) will continue to demonize sexual minorities in service of her political ambitions. And with John Ashcroft the nation’s top cop, one doesn’t have to be a resident of puritanical Middlesex County to be very worried about what’s happening to Al Baker.

French Wall


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