November 2nd, 2018


Regarding Marna Nightingale, Sexual Assault, and Me

I’ve been accused of raping an ex. This puts me in a difficult spot, because I didn’t do it, and there is nothing I can say which will prove it didn’t happen. I can’t say “this is what happened, and I know better now”, because it didn’t happen.

Marna Nightingale ([personal profile] commodorified on Live Journal and Dreamwidth in her allegation here) says that in the autumn of 2009, I chose, without asking her, to have sex without a condom. It’s not true.

We went out. We were very serious, from summer 2008, until the end of 2010. She says she chose to ignore my violation of trust because I was going through a rough time in the autumn of 2009.

When we were getting ready to meet each other, for the first time, she was very up front about things. She told me she used condoms for preventing pregnancy, and no other form of birth control. If something should go wrong, and she got pregnant, she was not going to get an abortion; that her family could afford a child, wanted a child and would keep the child. If I wanted to be involved, I could be as involved as I liked, or not; but if I were involved, it would have to be a commitment; no coming and going, and I would have to come to Ottawa on a regular basis, because that was where they lived (at the time I was living in California).

So when she says I just decided I didn’t feel like using a condom, that’s the framework in which I was supposed to be making the decision: that I was choosing to risk getting her pregnant, because I “just didn’t feel like it”.

Looking at my chat logs, and e-mails, the only part of autumn 2009 in which it could have taken place is the very beginning of September, when she and (Cat Meier/[personal profile] fairestcat) were moving Cat’s belongings from the States to Canada prior to their marriage. I met them in Pasadena, where we saw friends, and I drove them to the Bay Area. We stopped in San Luis Obispo, and then went to my home in East Palo Alto.

They were with me, and my then housemate, for about four days. Marna is alleging the incident took place in that time frame. I did not see her again until Nov 13th 2009.

I have a chat log from April of 2010, where Marna wanted to me to agree to not using condoms, specifically with the intent of getting pregnant; where I expressed my reluctance, not because of the possibility of children, but because she has fibro, and getting pregnant might have been damaging to her health.

It’s not proof I didn’t do what she claims. She says I didn’t feel like using a condom in September of the previous year, despite the risks to her health, and of unplanned pregnancy. But in early 2010 she was negotiating with me about getting pregnant; and I was still reluctant to forgo condoms, out of concern for her physical health. We didn’t resolve that question until the end of July 2010, with me insisting she could not force me to stop using them.

There were occasions, prior to our agreement, when she tried to get me to not use a condom; because she found them painful and she very much wanted a child.

She says she is not being petty or vindictive; Yet she, and one of her partners, are boasting that they have been conducting a whisper campaign for about a year.

In the comments on that public post her commentariat has a nickname for me, decrying that Marna has to keep encountering “That Asshole”, despite my having blocked her on social media and refraining from comment about her; or the circumstances of our breakup. I have striven to avoid reference to her, and have not gone to conventions I knew she, or Cat, would be attending because I didn’t want the hostility. In the interim she has been speaking ill of me. I am told I was being referred to as “Gaslighting Ex No. 2” more than a year ago.

Which brings me to the reason I broke up with her. I did it because she attempted to break up my fiancée’s longer term relationship, saying my (now wife) and I were going to take advantage of him, and abandon him. She took advantage of his insecurities and emotional vulnerabilities to damage our relationships, because she was mad at me for getting engaged. She spent the best part of day telling him that his partner of more than ten years and I were going to exploit him, abandon him, and break him.

She said she resented that she was not given a veto over my right to marry; and felt my leaving California was a betrayal of some promise I had made to her.

She and I started seeing each other near the tail end of a long term (almost ten years) relationship, a very good relationship, which for all sorts of reasons, failed. She advised my ex that she should physically separate from me, and then see how things developed. I cannot say now if that advice was given in good faith.

In early 2009, she said she wanted to have children with me, and we started talking about it. On April 27th, 2009, she said we should start. I expressed reluctance, for the reasons stated above. In July 2010 I finally agreed. After that her behavior changed. She became much more aggressive about sex; and less willing to accept my not being in the mood.

My wife and I have the chat logs. I have all the letters she sent me. I have the emails. None of it, of course makes it impossible for me to have done it.

There is a lot of bad blood here. This is, of course, a case of conflicting accounts. Neither of us can prove the case. That she wrote about my virtues, and integrity, in multiple fora, right up to the point I broke up with her doesn’t mean I couldn’t have done it. That I have been very public about condemning accusations such as the one she is making (though I am not, and never have been on the ConCom, nor the board, of Arisia; which she says is why she chose to come forward with it now) doesn’t mean I couldn’t have done it.

That she says she has no reason to doubt my sincerity, and that it was at a bad time in my life, and implies it was a one-time thing makes it even harder to deny; because it very deftly puts the tone of “maybe it was a mistake, an emotionally driven error in judgement” into the mix.

If I had done it, that would be the thing to say.

I could repeat the details of my first girlfriend’s abusive behaviors around consent (which, was in the middle-80s, when I was 19, and the expectations about what a young man would want were different.)

Which doesn’t change what happened. I had explicitly talked about this part of my history. Marna was one of the people who helped see it for what it was, and she still pushed for sex when I wasn’t enthusiastic.

Given the givens, I could ask people to accept that I screwed up, learned from it, and grant me some mercy.

But I can’t do that, because, no matter what she thinks now, the idea that I said, “I felt like it” as an excuse for violating the terms of our relationship, and her trust, is something I wouldn’t do.

Is it possible that we had sex without a condom, prior to forgoeing them altogether? I don’t think so; for all the reasons I mentioned above. Is it possible we had some form of condom failure? Sure. I can recall half a dozen, or so, in the past 35 years. But that’s a far cry from casually, and callously, risking a total change in my partner’s life, as well as threatening her health.

I know some people will say “I believe her” and that’s fine. Given the givens, I understand. Our society has too long casually dismissed women when they say they have been abused, assaulted, or raped, and that needs to change.

I also know that I didn’t do this. All I can do is state that, present the evidence I have, and hope it’s persuasive. If you feel you need to disavow me, I understand. I can’t say that won’t hurt, but you have to follow the dictates of your conscience, and no one else’s.

(I am not going to restrict comment. I am not going to argue details; I have said what I need to say about this. I have a commitment which takes me out of town for the weekend, and could not reply until Tuesday, even if I were so inclined.

No matter what you think of me, be kind to each other)
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