I have to write about the courage of the two primary victims in the case. Listening to their statements in court on Friday has humbled me, and I must rush to add a qualifier to this narrative: what I experienced was nowhere near as severe or damaging as what these incredible women endured. That they could get up on the stand, face their abuser in the courtroom, and speak about the emotional aftermath of the abuse with such bald honesty was inspiring. And, questions of degree aside, we are now part of a sisterhood, for better or for worse.
Almost everyone I've spoken with or heard from has been flabbergasted that there was no jail time -- that the negotiated sentence seems very light. It's my understanding that the primary victims in the legal proceeding were more concerned about an assured guilty plea/verdict and acceptance of responsibility, than about a highly punitive sentence. They both (the victims) had to testify at length at a preliminary hearing earlier this spring, and it was a horrible, wrenching experience -- a plea agreement spared them from having to testify again (what they read on Friday were victim impact statements, and there was no questioning). And given that Klever is a 76 year old man in very poor health (cardiovascular disease, brain aneurysm, history of TIAs, prostate cancer and early-onset Parkinson's), jail time seemed to me to be somehow irrelevant, and possibly cruel.
At least, that's how I felt going into the courtroom. Seeing Klever in person after all these years did not disrupt my nervous system as much as I expected, but it was disorienting. I was seated toward the back (the room was packed) and as he scanned the crowd, his eyes did cross mine once or twice without any hesitation or recognition. (I am alternately relieved and infuriated by this fact.)
The legal proceedings were, initially, very dry and uneventful. There were endless readings of the charges and pleas, with line-by-line attention to whether Klever understood the implications of what he was agreeing to. There was a bit of housekeeping as the two lawyers jousted over minutia in the paperwork. And there was more than one recess, during which the on-camera reporter from Channel 3 trolled blatantly (and rudely) for victims to interview.
Most of the people packing the courtroom were from Klever's old church, and many of them clearly had been members for decades (lots of white hair in the room). At one point during the victims' statements, the deputy D.A. asked that anyone in the room who had been abused or otherwise affected by Klever's actions to stand, and half the room stood up, which was staggering.
After the victims made their impact statements, his attorney indicated that Klever had a statement to make. To my disappointment, he was not required to allocute to his crimes, but merely read a brief and wholly inadequate apology. There was a complete disassociation between the (very banal) words he was speaking and his affect -- it reminded me of nothing so much as the way a little boy acts when he's apologizing to a parent for doing something wrong, but not understanding that it was wrong (or why it was wrong). Very creepy, and very disappointing. I think we all hoped that Klever's guilty pleas would signal a true understanding of his crimes, and a full repentance of them. This is clearly not the case.
I don't believe that Klever has any understanding that what he did was wrong, and I don't believe he is capable of empathy with anyone, let alone his victims. In this light, I begin to wish that he would rot in jail for the rest of his life...
Many of you have been asking how I'm doing/dealing with it, and the truth is, I think I'm doing okay. I may have been a little extra-high-maintenance this weekend (hush up), but otherwise, not bad. My sleep has been disjointed and strained for the last week, and I'm sure the old psyche is working things out in the wee hours. But the case is over (except for the formal sentencing on July 29), and we are leaving for a long weekend in Chicago on Thursday. The potatoes and strawberries have been planted, the bills have been paid, and I hauled 3 bags of
I think I can finally cross Gerald Klever off my list.