Archive for March 4th, 2011

All fantasy should have a solid base in reality. –  Max Beerbohm

As I’ve discussed before, BDSM is an exercise in trust, and not merely of the submissive for the dominant; in noncommercial male-dominant situations he must also trust her not to turn on him and misrepresent the situation to disapproving and ignorant “authorities” who will then accuse him of rape, torture and worse.  I examined one such case on October 27th, and in recent weeks another appeared; here’s how it was reported on February 15th in the Huffington Post:

A Wisconsin woman looking for New York City housing on Craigslist made an agreement with a 45-year-old man living in Brooklyn:  She’d cook and clean in exchange for free rent. But when she arrived this month, she told police, she was handcuffed to a radiator and made to be the man’s sex slave for eight days, acknowledging she left the apartment at least once and returned.

The man, John Hopkins, has been charged with rape, assault and unlawful imprisonment and was being held on $350,000 bail…Officers found the 27-year-old woman Saturday in the studio apartment in the fetal position, shaking, on the bed.  A rope was bolted near the bed where he tied her to rape her, she said.  Handcuffs she said were used to shackle her to the radiator were found nearby.  By the bed, officers found a bag with a ball-gag, whip and a rope.  The woman was taken to a hospital with rectal hemorrhaging and bruising.  Authorities withheld her name because of the nature of her complaint.

Authorities were called to the apartment Saturday after the woman’s mother contacted authorities in Wisconsin.  The woman apparently had broken free that day and contacted her mother, saying she was going to kill herself because she couldn’t bear to be locked up anymore, police said.  It’s not clear why she didn’t call 911 herself.  Police arrived and found both the man and woman in the apartment.

The woman told police she met Hopkins online, and he bought her a one-way ticket to New York City on February 4th.  He met her at the airport, and the two took a taxi to his apartment…Once inside…he told her she was going to be his slave.  Hopkins forced her to call him “master” and let her leave only to go to work, the documents said.  She had a job as a chef at a restaurant on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, and she left at least once but for some reason returned, authorities said, though it’s not clear why.  When she did, she was handcuffed again.  During the eight days, she was blindfolded, gagged and repeatedly raped and forced to perform oral sex, according to court documents.

It’s clear there is an awful lot of information missing from the story as presented; the most obvious problem is the seemingly contradictory statements about her comings and goings.  At one point it says she “left at least once and returned”, but it also says Hopkins “only let her leave to go to work”…did she call her mother on the first day of work, or had she been in and out before?  She clearly couldn’t keep a job just reporting to work once in eight days.  And if she wanted to escape badly enough to call her mother for help, why on Earth did she go back to the apartment instead of simply waiting at the restaurant?  I immediately suspected that Hopkins and the woman had an online BDSM relationship and he eventually talked her into coming to New York to live it for real, but when she got there she discovered it was a case of “good fantasy, bad reality”.

Hopkins’ version appeared in the New York Daily News five days later:

John Hopkins said he has one question for the…woman who has accused him of rape:  “Why did you do this to me?”… Hopkins…recalled responding to the ad his accuser posted on Craigslist two years ago looking for sex…[and] said they started to meet up for role-play sex sessions that involved him tying her up as the “slave” while he acted as “master.”  “I didn’t rape her,” insisted Hopkins, who works as an audio engineer.  “Everything we did was role-playing.  In the game of role-play, the ‘slave’ actually has the power.”

Hopkins…faces a first-degree rape charge and a litany of other charges…Hopkins said that [the woman’s] account is a lie.  “Everything they’re saying I did was consensual,” Hopkins said.  “She could have left if she wanted to, but she didn’t.”  Hopkins said his kinky sex games with the 27-year-old Midwest woman continued until a few weeks ago when she started drinking heavily.  She left his home, was then kicked out of her friend’s apartment on the upper West Side and claimed she crashed in Central Park one night, where she was attacked…”I’m convinced those are where the scratches came from,” he said.  “I didn’t do any of that.”

Hopkins said the woman returned to his place Friday where she downed half a bottle of vodka.  He said he phoned her mother to tell her the situation and she spoke to her daughter, a sushi chef, for half an hour.  When they hung up, her mother then called the cops and Hopkins was swiftly arrested, Hopkins said.  “I got railroaded,” he said.  “A woman says anything happened to them in New York State, and they believe her and not the man.  It’s not fair.”

Note the scare quotes around the word “consensual” in the headline, indicating the authors’ total ignorance of BDSM (they obviously don’t believe a woman could ever consent to it despite the fact that a great many do); also note that though the first story was plastered all over the media the follow-up got almost no press at all.  IMHO Hopkins’ story, though it has a few iffy elements, holds more water; except for the duration it’s pretty much what I had already guessed.  But it should be relatively easy to determine which story is true; if the woman only arrived in the city eight days ago on a one-way airline ticket as she claims, there will be a record of it.  Also, though Craigslist deletes old ads someone may be able to dig up a cached copy of the index showing the apartment ad the woman claims to have answered (like Gawker did for Chris Lee’s ad, as reported in Wednesday’s column).  Was she drunk when the police arrived as Hopkins claims, and what about the friend she supposedly stayed with one night?  And then, as reported in The Gothamist, there are the emails:

Hopkins’ attorney Andrew Stoll said the pair did not meet on Craiglist and, “All of the acts in question were consensual acts between two adults who freely agreed to every aspect of their relationship.”  He showed emails the woman allegedly sent to Hopkins, including one from during the alleged imprisonment, “i yearn to serve my Master better.  can i cook for you tomarrow?  i love you so much.”  Stoll said, “These accusations only arose when my client called the complainant’s mother, to tell her that her daughter needed some emotional help, and should probably go back home.”

What a sad, sorry mess.  One of the two is lying and the one telling the truth is a fool.  If the woman isn’t lying she was a damned fool to fly across the country to move in with a complete stranger in New York, and if Hopkins isn’t lying he was a damned fool to continue a BDSM relationship with a woman he knew was emotionally unstable (though the cops didn’t find her restrained there was evidence of rough anal sex).  Due to the current semi-legal status of BDSM it’s possible for a monster like the one who captured Jill Brenneman to pass a nonconsensual relationship off as consensual, and in other cases for disturbed women to represent consensual relationships as nonconsensual (as Hopkins alleges happened in his case).  Until the right of consenting adults to do as they please in private is recognized, confusion and hysteria take the place of rational analysis and situations are more likely to be interpreted as the observers want to see them rather than as they actually happened.

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