when rapists walk free

    Dear Mr. Kristof,
I have followed your account of commercial and punitive rape in Asia with great interest. My focus in this subject matter is intensely personal. I have brought upon myself a great deal of trouble through my association with a Chinese victim of child rape, whose father, the perpetrator of her abuse, has not only escaped with impunity, but used the assets of the publicly traded company that he founded, to buy her silence about his crime. To declare my interest, the reason for my concern about this distasteful matter is that my life has been threatened in connection with my legal claim to the assets thusly misappropriated. Although my business claims have been settled, the legal peripeties in connection with this threat and my publicity thereof are ongoing, and you may find my adversaries’ account a useful corrective to my partiality.
    From your writings, I surmise that you regard rape, especially committed with impunity, in an expression of malign disempowerment of its victim, as a particularly foreign kind of injustice. Nevertheless, both the record of your employer and my experience suggest that we need not strain ourselves in search of prominent domestic examples.
    I recall a New York Times article by N.R. Kleinfield of July 1, concerning Jessica Hendra, ex-humorist Tony Hendra’s younger daughter from his first marriage. She accuses her father of molesting her when she was seven and again when she was nine or ten. Tony Hendra is currently best known as the author of a best selling book, Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul. In a former life, he was the editor of National Lampoon, where in 1971 he published a recipe for telling when one’s daughter is ready to be cooked and eaten, recommending in part:

An ancient and surprisingly accurate test of readiness is to hold the buttocks one in each hand and squeeze gently. If the daughter says, “Grrrugchllllchllll,” she is not yet quite ready. If she slaps your face, you have missed your opportunity. But if she giggles, she is just right.

Jessica Hendra was five years old at the time of that writing. One hopes that she was not yet quite ready.
    Tony Hendra has described his daughter’s allegations of abuse as “false in every respect.” His denial is curiously hedged. He readily admits in his book that he was a negligent father and husband. Since the book is meant to be confessional in nature, Jessica Hendra in turn questions, why her father had failed to include her allegations. Tony Hendra responds that the book was not a “comprehensive confessional.” He insists that his daughter is “psychologically troubled,” and is operating with “recovered memories.” New York Times’ public editor Daniel Okrent devoted his entire column On July 11, 2004, to the question of whether his paper was correct in publishing accusations that Tony Hendra had failed to reveal one of his sins in the book. He concluded in his capacity of your newspaper’s editor, that the author’s success, and his book’s confessional theme, made the most intimate details of his life a fair subject for public humiliation in its pages. On the other hand, in his capacity of your newspaper’s reader, he expressed his wish that it had not undertaken this punishment.
    I have long agonized over my right to publicize Min Zhu’s sexual abuse of his daughter. WebEx is a successful, publicly traded company, a prominent advertiser in media channels that include your newspaper. Min Zhu has parlayed the success of his company into silencing his daughter’s complaint for childhood sexual abuse with its shareholders’ assets. The declarations that he and his company WebEx have filed in my cases, expressly disclaim their willingness to deny my “increasingly bizarre and utterly false allegations” of child rape, as stated in his daughter’s claims reproduced below. As recently as 2003, Erin Zhu has confirmed under oath that her father molested her. Having experienced threats and menaces uncannily similar to those that she described to me as causing her to yield to her father’s sexual advances, I feel entitled to make the sins of their named beneficiary and ostensible author fair game for my public discourse.

I don’t think it’s childish at all to be afraid of what might seem silly. I never worry about vampires, but corpses in various stages of decay, or people hiding in the dark about to attack me, are almost always on my mind if I were alone near somewhere dark. It seem to have started when I was little, when I’d stare at various spots at night and make up stories about what scary thing it might be, and scare myself shitless even though there’s several other people sleeping in the same room. It might also have to do with the fact that my parents used to physically fight at night when us children were in bed in the same room, and I tried my best to crawl deeper into the sheets and avoid hearing about my mother banging into the furniture. Even now I can’t stand violent/scary movies, and was a serious nervous wreck when watching a movie having to do with a girl alone in a house scared of a man breaking in. Reminded me too much of waiting in the middle of the night for my father to silently come in my room, shaking with fear every night knowing that there’s nothing I can do about it. Thankfully there’s someone I trust sleeping with me now, so I don’t have to be afraid of intruders so much.
Erin Zhu, Dec 24 1991, 6:42 am

[story of rape deleted]
I am 17 too, and went through similar kind of “occurrence” when I was 14, except that it was my father rather than a stranger and it lasted a lot longer.
Erin Zhu, Dec 26 1991, 12:15 am

In my family (very conservative Chinese), the subject of sex was utterly taboo and not ever mentioned until it became obvious that the children have had enough exposure to the culture here to have a pretty good idea of it, and then the only response was to insist that I, as a girl in danger of accidental pregnancy and so on, should never do anything as gross as that.
All this was, of course, after my father oh-so-impolitely deflowered me himself. Amazing how well he was able to deceive himself about his motives and actions. […]
For me, the sexual abuse part was certainly in line with the rest, a part of the power game that my father so expertly plays with the rest of the family. However, the importance of the sexual abuse was that it finally brought home to me that this was not just a matter of me not behaving like a proper little girl and getting punished by my father, but genuine betrayal of all that he portrayed himself to be. It broke through the lie of him being protective and only punishing me “for my own good”, and thus was more painful than the other forms of abuse.
Erin Zhu, 2 Jan 1992, 3:05 pm

Excerpts from public record documents filed in Zeleny v. Zhu & WebEx, Santa Clara Superior Court Case Number CV-809286:

the summer when I was fourteen, my father suddenly changed his tune when my mother left for an extended visit to China. he took off my clothes, praised my naked form held up to a bathroom mirror, and devoured my body with his lust. I wanted to die; I tried to kill. I did not succeed in either.
― Erin Zhu, 27 Dec 99 13:40:45 PST

I was not born and raised a nice girl ― after all I am my father’s daughter, and I inherited so much from him, his murderous rage, his overwhelming ambitions, his sarcastic contempt, his sadistic streak.
I will not be a monster like my father; I am determined and sure of that much.
― Erin Zhu, 25 Nov 99 20:14:42 PST

[WebEx ex-President and CTO Min Zhu] first sexually abused [his daughter Erin] in August 1988. […] Just as [Erin] was about to fall asleep, Min Zhu slipped into bed with [Erin]. Although a brilliant student, [Erin] was naive and innocent about sexual matters. [Erin] had studied biology and was aware of the biological aspects of reproduction, but she was unaware of the “practical” aspects of sexual matters. Min Zhu was wearing shorts and a tank top/t-shirt. [Erin] was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Min Zhu removed [Erin]’s clothes and began to touch her sexually. [Erin] verbally objected to his advances but Min Zhu merely stated that there was nothing wrong with what he was doing. Min Zhu proceeded to remove his clothes and forced [Erin]’s hand to touch him sexually. Min Zhu assured [Erin] that there was nothing wrong with [Erin] touching him in that way and that Min Zhu’s state of erection was normal. Min Zhu proceeded to turn on the lights, stating that he wanted to see [Erin] naked because he had never seen a virgin naked, since her mother was not a virgin when they were married. [Min Zhu] proceeded to place his hand between [Erin]’s legs and pronounced that the moisture in her vagina meant that her body was “being bad” and that she deserved to be punished. [Erin] attempted physically to refuse Min Zhu’s sexual advances. However, she was powerless to fight her father off. Min Zhu was approximately 39 years old, was a grown man in his prime, and was much larger and very much stronger than [Erin]. Min Zhu was approximately 5’11″ tall and weighed approximately 160-170 pounds at that time. [Erin] was a fourteen-year-old girl, was only 5’4″ tall and weighed less 90 lbs. Min Zhu became more aggressive and mounted [Erin]. When [Erin] struggled, Min Zhu began choking and restraining [Erin] with a blanket. He threatened to kill her. [Erin] stopped fighting her father as she was physically overpowered and feared that she would be severely harmed physically. [Erin]’s fear was all the more pronounced in light of Min Zhu’s long history of domestic violence and lack of remorse or conscience. Min Zhu then proceeded to rape [Erin].
―Excerpted from the January 18, 2000 draft complaint by Erin Zhu, filed as an exhibit in Opposition to the Defendants’ Motion to Strike

On January 19, 2000, I traveled to Palo Alto, California, to meet with Min Zhu and Susan Xu to discuss settlement of Erin Zhu’s claims. I met them at the Gordon Biersch restaurant in Palo Alto, California. Min Zhu opened our meeting by describing to me his experiences in China during the Cultural Revolution. He stated that he and his wife had been sent to a remote camp and had had to struggle very hard just to survive. He said that he had been in many fights. He then told me he had come to this country and succeeded in building a billion dollar corporation, but if he lost it, he would not be troubled, because he had already undergone such hardships that any such loss would be nothing in comparison to what he had already suffered. He said he looked forward to a new experience, fighting in the American court system, and it could not do anything to him that could compare to what he had already endured.
―Excerpted from the Declaration of David W. Affeld in Opposition to Motions For Summary Judgment and Summary Adjudication By Defendants

    In a market economy, anyone is entitled to trade with a daughter rapist. In a free country, anyone is entitled to admire and extol him for any reason. Even so, as a result of disclosures in the referenced lawsuits, Min Zhu recently stepped down from his position as WebEx President, to be replaced in that position by a hired gun. According to his sworn deposition in my case, he is, moreover, scheduled to “retire” in the near future. Please use this information as you see fit.

cordially, ― Michael Zeleny@post.harvard.edu ― http://www.livejournal.com/users/larvatus/
7576 Willow Glen Road, Los Angeles, CA 90046 vox: 323.876.8234 fax: 323.876.8054 cell: 323.363.1860
All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. ― Samuel Beckett

pornographic imagination II

    Now that I have your letter, I understand both your reluctance to send it, and your delay in doing so. The former reflects my own resistance to reopening the subject so thoroughly excavated in our collegiate dialectics thirteen years ago. I refuse to mirror the latter in delaying this response, begging only your forgiveness for casting it in vague generalities, to which your bel esprit is fortunately far more susceptible than the otherwise pliant mind of the honnête homme. Continue reading pornographic imagination II