For the past six months, I've been staring at a 30-pound box filled with court documents and what's left of a young man's life following one college night and a 5- to 15-second disputed sex act.
That is, 5 to 15 seconds into the act of sexual intercourse, she said, "Stop."
He stopped immediately.
She claimed rape.
Thus, before his 23rd birthday, Rich Gorman of Orlando, Fla., was locked behind bars in the Liberty Correctional Institute near Tallahassee, serving a five-year sentence for sexual battery.
One minute a junior at Florida State University majoring in business/computer systems, the next a prison inmate labeled a sex offender.
I've hesitated to write about the case because all such cases are complex, as we've been reminded the past several weeks by the rape case at Duke University. Gorman's case bears little resemblance to the Duke episode, except that both involve youth and alcohol, a toxic combination in the sexual arena of he said/she said.
The moral of Gorman's story, which can't be proved or disproved in this limited space, is that boys and men accused of rape have little hope of reclaiming the life they once knew, regardless of whether they're guilty or innocent.
Any objective person reading through the testimony and depositions from Gorman's case would wonder how he landed in prison.
The "victim," whom we'll call Chastity, contradicted herself and changed her story several times - all documented in the box at my feet. She was drinking and making out with Gorman earlier in the evening.
She also went willingly into his apartment on the night in question, and this is key. She initially told police that she was pulled struggling from the car and dragged into his apartment, where she was raped. When she was told that parking lot cameras might have captured her going into the apartment, she changed her story, admitted that she wasn't forced, and that she walked voluntarily into the apartment.
My suspension of skepticism ends right there, but there's much more, including a prior rape claim by the "victim" at another college a few years earlier. Same victim, same scenario, except that she recanted in that case, saying she wasn't sure it was a rape because she was drunk. All the preceding was ruled inadmissible during Gorman's trial thanks to rape shield laws.
Again, I'm unable to do justice to the many questionable details of this case. Instead, let's focus on Gorman's nightmare, and what potentially can happen to any male who has sex with a female in the current sexual climate of virgins and demons.