Friday, July 31, 2009

Doctor Convicted Of Rape Of Woman Hospitalized For A Week

From KSBW:

Carl Bergstrom, who was found guilty of forcible sodomy, was taken into custody immediately after the verdict was read. He faces up to eight years in prison.

The jury decided that the sex between Bergstrom, 53, and a woman he met at a Carmel bar back in April was not consensual, as Bergstrom had argued.

During the trial, jurors listened to an emotional 911 call in which the victim pled for help and said that, "He raped me bad. Oh, God, he raped me so bad," prosecutors said Monday.

The woman was taken to a hospital after being found by officers huddled in a gutter outside Bergstrom's home.
Not surprisingly, the defense claimed that Dr. Bergstrom's actions which caused this woman so much trauma that she was hospitalized for a week were consensual.

What is acknowledged by the prosecution and defense is that the woman consented to go to Dr. Bergstrom's home. How this fact is spun by the defense highlights what so many people refuse to acknowledge. Rape is about disrespecting other human beings' basic human right to control what exactly is done to their own bodies.

For too many people it is legally acceptable when girls and women are denied their human rights, sometimes with extreme violence, the moment they consent to any sexual interaction or seem likely to consent.

Another story about this conviction includes allegations against this doctor about on the job misconduct including drugs and possible malpractice over the alleged misdiagnosis of a man who later died of cancer. Two other women testified at trial as reluctant witnesses that they had been sexually assaulted in a similar manner. Their testimony was presented as corroboration of the victim's testimony.

From the Monterey Herald:
Defense attorney Tom Worthington said he thought the case raised "philosophical questions" about consent and personal responsibility.

"At what point is a female responsible for her own conduct?" he asked. "When you have two consenting adults, how far do you go down that path? And when the woman says 'no,' how clearly does she have to communicate that and how does he have to react?"

One juror, who did not give her name, answered the question as she left the courtroom Monday morning. "No means no," she said.
The core problem with this defense attorney's questions is that in this case "her own conduct" did not include anal sexual penetration. That was his conduct and it was unilateral.

Worthington's own comments about the planned appeal of this conviction nullify the validity of his own questions related to this case.
According to testimony, the woman's blood-alcohol level was more than 0.20 five hours after the incident and may have been as high as 0.31 when she was assaulted. The legal limit to drive is .08

While there is a law against having sex with a person who is unable to consent, Worthington said, forcible rape requires that the victim either denied or withdrew consent "granted freely and voluntarily by someone who knows the nature of the act involved."
If this woman was unable to consent as Worthington is now alleging then arguing that she was personally responsible for what she couldn't possibly consent to is nonsensical.

This claim by Worthington if true means that Dr. Bergstrom committed perjury in his testimony. If this woman was unable to consent to anal sex then she wasn't able to consent to any of the other sexual actions Dr. Bergstrom admitted in his testimony.

Shortly after he began having anal sex with the woman, he testified, she said, "Stop, stop, stop" in rapid fashion. Bergstrom said he immediately stopped. After more intercourse, he tried to have anal sex with her again, he said. She told him to stop and "she just sort of snapped. She jumped up, ran to the kitchen, grabbed my coat and two of my cell phones, and ran out of the house," Bergstrom said.

This testimony makes it clear that Dr. Bergstrom didn't have consent for anal sex before he began, but that communicated lack of consent (which likely signalled physical pain) only mattered temporarily. Dr. Bergstrom's admitted two attempts at anal sex and his actions left a woman in the hospital yet one of his defense attorneys after the conviction is still trying to blame the victim.

What is most likely is that Worthington and the entire defense team's first approach was to slander this rape victim in a way which tapped into bigotry about women who report having been raped and when that didn't work, he dropped the pretense that she consented in the hope that he could argue that his client was guilty but only of a sexual assault statute with a lower penalty.

This case does raise issues about consent and personal responsibility but not in the way that Worthington implied. The person who neglected consent and tried to dodge personal responsibility was the defendant not the victim in this case. He is supported in this dodging of responsibility by Worthington.

Defense attorneys and those who support accused rapists will frequently and falsely present unilateral actions as something "they" did which falsely positions those actions as mutual. The claim of "they had sex" is a counter allegation.

Worthington's first question would be more honest if it were reworded: "At what point is a female solely responsible for a man's conduct toward her?" and his follow up question needs to be: "When you have two consenting adults, how far do you go down that path before he can legally do whatever nonconsensual actions he wants to do her?"

Worthington's last question about how clear a woman's "no" must be before it has legal meaning is a popular question which makes rape legal by default since this question positions having actual consent as optional. His last question should instead be: "What does a non-consenting woman have to do, or have done to her, before her lack of consent will no longer be ignored with impunity?"

If it is okay to injure a woman who goes home with a man so severely that she spends a week in the hospital then Worthington's logic means that it must be legal to do anything to that woman including murdering her if doing so gives the man a sexual thrill. After all, most women (and men) don't clearly communicate their lack of consent to being murdered during sex and Worthington's questions clearly place all the responsibility for setting limits on the woman.

According to Worthington's logic if a woman hasn't clearly communicated a limit then that limit legally does not exist. If this logic is valid then it must be applicable to everyone in every situation. No exceptions.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:26 AM   3 comments links to this post


At July 31, 2009 4:06 PM, Blogger JENNIFER DREW said...

Thank you Marcella for very succinctly disentangling defence attorney's attempt to blame the female rape survivor for supposedly 'consenting' or for not preventing this male rapist's sadistic attack upon the woman.

Here in the UK male rapists continue to be acquitted despite physical evidence a female rape survivor has suffered severe physical injuries due to being forcibly anally penetrated, bitten and beaten by the male rapist. All too commonly the focus is always whether or not the female rape survivor communicated sufficiently clearly to the male rapist that she did not 'consent' or want to sexually abused in this way.

But given pornography is now mainstream with the central message all women want, need and enjoy being subjected to sadistic male sexual violence because it is supposedly 'erotic' this apparently invalidates the severe injuries a female survivor suffers at the hands of the male rapist(s).

When are juries and prosecution laywers going to focus on the actions of the male rapists, rather than always focusing on the female rape survivor. She is not the one on trial - the male rapist is the one.

So if we agree with Worthington's twisted logic, anyone who commits a crime is never responsible for his actions because it is always the victim who is supposed to prevent the crime occurring in the first place. Does this mean then that if a man cannot prove he did not resist sufficiently when a mugger or man physically assaulted him - no crime occurred.

Likewise women are not accorded the same power and privileges men are commonly accorded and one of these privileges is that men's claims 'I did not rape that woman' are commonly believed because women are supposedly innate liars and always out to seek revenge against so-called innocent men.

Men are presumed to be credible if they are perceived as having a public respectability such as medical doctor, whereas women's creditability always depends on whether or not they are perceived as adhering to male-defined notions of sexual morality and 'female respectablity.' A woman's occupation is considered irrelevant whereas a man's occupation supposedly proves whether or not he is a rapist.

At February 09, 2010 2:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At February 09, 2010 7:41 PM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...


Since you are making a criminal accusation and lamenting that the person you are accusing is protected I find it interesting that you have chosen to hide your own identity.

If what you write is not slander then you have no valid reason not to provide your legal name, hometown and enough additional informtion so that I can confirm you are who you claim to be.

Only if you do that will I undelete your comment.


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