No sympathy for Murphy
By RICK CASEY
AS I said when a Galveston jury acquitted millionaire Robert Durst of murder despite the fact that he admitted chopping up the body and dumping it in the bay, I never second-guess a jury unless I've attended the entire trial and heard what they heard and saw what they saw.
So I accept the jury's verdict acquitting former basketball star Calvin Murphy of sexually abusing five of his daughters.
Now I should feel sympathy for Murphy, that his reputation is forever tarnished by the worst sort of false accusations.
Let's assume that the argument of Murphy's defense lawyer, Rusty Hardin, is accurate: The five finger-pointing daughters were lying out of anger and greed.
These five were among the daughters whose mothers he never married. They were, said Hardin, spiteful that Murphy didn't treat them as well as the three children he had by his ex-wife.
If Hardin's version is true, there's no defending the daughters' lies.
But it wasn't the first time they deceived.
Differences on display
According to testimony, Murphy told them not to call him "daddy" in public. He didn't want to tarnish the public image he had earned through his stunning play on the basketball court, his sunny personality as a TV commentator, and his work with Houston's youth.
If Murphy didn't teach them to lie, he helped hone their skills at an early age.
How would the public have felt about him if we knew then what we know now: that he has 14 daughters by nine women?
That we know of.
The differences between the way Murphy treated his official daughters and his unofficial daughters were on display during the trial.
His two daughters by his longtime marriage appeared for his defense. They were attractive, svelte, and articulate.
They showed the polish that private schools and college provide.
By contrast, Murphy's accusing daughters tended toward obesity, were less well-spoken and, in some cases, themselves had children on welfare by multiple fathers.
By all appearances, Murphy earned the devotion of the daughters who testified in his defense.
Calvin and Magic
And he earned the anger of those who accused him.
Before his trial, Murphy expressed concern that even if acquitted, suspicions would follow him and his reputation as a role model would be sullied.
He was right. But the damage wasn't just by lies. It was by truth.
And however he suffers, it could have been worse. Just ask fellow basketball star Magic Johnson, who acquired HIV through his promiscuity.
This isn't an idle comparison. One of Murphy's accusing daughters testified that her mother died of AIDS.
Murphy's almost biblical story reminds me of a brainstorm inspired by a billboard I saw on a rural stretch of Interstate 10.
It advertised vasectomy reversals.
The idea: Every boy at the age of 12 gets a tax-paid vasectomy.
When he has the desire and the means to pay for his own reversal, he is ready to become a father.
Imagine a society with sharply decreased unintentional fatherhood.
But don't write me your objections. Any idea that would be opposed by the Baptists, the Catholics and the ACLU doesn't have a chance.
And don't weep for Calvin Murphy.
What he sowed, he reaped.
I'm not going to even focus on the fact that Rusty Hardin usually has the ability to get a not-guilty for a zebra accused of having stripes!
When I lived in Houston, one of the most annoying characters on TV was Calvin Murphy doing Rocket game announcements. (2nd place goes to Marvin Zindler) I'm glad this trial brought out what a shady character this guy is and hopefully the people of Houston are smart enough not to welcome back this guy with open arms.
Was this guy even a good basketball player???
Given his current situation, I thought the following quote from the NBA website was quite ironic:
For more on "The Murph"--you can go here Calvin Murphy's NBA Bio
Courtesy the Washington Post
Well, that was a sharp indictment. One day you are riding high as a basketball star and sports commentator, and the next some grand jury thinks your disgruntled children (the ones who didn't get the money or star treatment - hell, even star's kids who are treated 'well' say horrible things that cannot be proven) are telling the truth now, after years and years and years. Suddenly, you are begging for your life from a panel of twelve people. The jury spares you a conviction and justice is done, but no one will ever think well of you again. They'll whisper, they'll talk, they'll look away, move to let you go by without a nod. All your good work with underprivileged children - so what. All your good work for charity - so what. All your good work to keep up a public image so that people will contribute to your charities - so what. And then some 'reporter' will write something terrible about you - so what.
Without directing this comment to the case at hand, I want to point out that obesity is a well-recognized symptom of victims of child sex assault. Along with sloppy dress and poor grooming, shrinks theorize that, perhaps sub- conciously, the victims hope that obesity will "insulate" the them from future attacks.
I mean no offense to BLeonard, but what a bunch of garbage. You can get a psychiatrist to say anything, but especially in the area of sexual assaults. I get so frustrated, and I do see both sides so don't count me as calloused, but:
No evidence of tearing, scarring to the hymen or anus - some expert will tell you that this is perfectly normal and a person could have been sexually abused.
Sloppy dress, with obesity and poor grooming habits - 99% of the monster truck rally participants and viewers - some expert will tell you that this is perfectly normal for a sexually abused individual because they don't want to be attractive.
Good dress, attractive make-up, meticulous grooming - some expert will tell you that the victim becomes good a seducing to overcome her feelings of inferiority/inadequacy due to the abuse.
I really have a hard time using the rock hard science of psychology/psychiatry to shore up a case with NO EVIDENCE, and an outcry much much later in life.
The danger is, and a very real danger it is, is that we stop requiring any evidence, and a witch hunt takes place. Any idiot with an axe to grind can say it happened, and when it can't be proven that it didn't (ie: time, evidence, etc...) you parade the quack up to say that whatever happens to be the personal grooming habits of the victim could verify that she has been sexually abused. Yup, that has a vast potential for abuse.
Sorry for the vent, and it isn't personal BLeonard, I just take a conviction very seriously as do you.
Beck, I think most of what you write is well-taken. Psychological "syndrome" evidence is too slender a reed upon which to build a case. Certain behaviors, however, taken in context can assist the fact finder in the job at hand. With regard to the lack of the tearing and etc. you mention: the physiological data are unassailable for the proposition that all kinds of sex abuse leave no direct physical marker.
[This message was edited by BLeonard on 12-10-04 at .]
I think Ms. Gibson's assertion that the case had "NO EVIDENCE" says volumes with what it doesn't say. So the testimony of a victim isn't evidence. I have no opinion on the Murphy case because all I saw was what was in the newspaper, and I was going to stay out of this discussion until I read that comment, but if we accept that burden we are going to write off a lot of victims of sexual abuse who were not "lucky" enough to have been physically damaged by the assault. Delayed outcry, even into the adult years? I've prosecuted numerous cases where the victim simply did not have the courage to talk about it until they were out of the control of the perp; many of thoses cases resulted in confessions by the perp. The Murphy case apparently had a lot of problems, not the least of which was the monetary motive the alleged victims had but to make such sweeping statements about these cases is clearly wrong. And I don't see a problem with pointing out the character flaws of the defendant that were highlighted in an unsuccessful prosecution. Do we have to say that O.J. Simpson was a good guy just because he was acquitted of the crime? To quote an educated source, what a bunch of garbage.
Folks, let's not act like this is a baseless case. Apparently there was enough "evidence" that the grand jury went forward with the indictment. The Harris County District Attorney's Office thought the case was strong enough to go to the grand jury and pursue an indictment. The victims were not just appeased by the DA's office. I'm sure these victims were scrutinized before the case ever went forward. Just because this is an outcry years later doesn't mean there is "no evidence". Apparently there just wasn't enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
I tried nothing but child sex cases for three years and more than my share in the other seven. During voir dire I always ask these questions: How many of you know someone who was sexually abused as a child? A person who has never told anyone in authority? My 60 person panels generally have about 35 or so women. Never have I had fewer than two of these women tell me that it happened to them.
These ladies tend to be about 45-55 years old and say they were reared at a time that such things simply were not discussed. Even when a child did outcry, the majority of police and prosecutors had no idea how to handle the case.
For this I feel at least a touch of institutional guilt.
On more than a few occasions, brave women have said in open court, many choking back tears, that today is the first time EVER that they have disclosed their abuse. After trying dozens of these cases and investigating, filing, indicting and pleading hundreds more I have come to believe that it is more common for a child NOT to tell right away than otherwise and that more often than not we don't know the true nature and extent of the abuse
|Powered by Social Strata|
© TDCAA, 2001. All Rights Reserved.