This is a mirror of Stephen Goldin’s pages from SFF.net about Marion Zimmer Bradley. More notes here.
Marion Zimmer Bradley: Excerpted Testimony
Q. Did you know that he [Walter] had a
relationship with [Victim X]?
A. I became aware of it, yes.
Q. When did you become aware of it?
A. About that time.
Q. What time?
A. Shortly after we were married. At that time I treated [Victim X] like one of my own children. He and my son David used to go swimming together and such.
Q. And to your knowledge, how old was [Victim X] when your husband was having a sexual relationship with him?
A. I think he was about 14 or possibly 15. I’m not certain.
Q. Were you aware that your husband had a sexual relationship with [Victim X] when he was below the age of 18?
A. Yes, I was.
Q. Did you know that about the time you were married to your husband?
A. Shortly afterward. It was quite shocking to me.
Q. How did you find that out?
A. I believe he mentioned it.
Q. Who mentioned it?
Q. And what did he tell you?
A. Well, he told me that he and [Victim X] were sleeping together. And I said that I had believed that was an intellectual position. He told me it was not. I was very upset.
Q. So back in the 1960s you knew that it was not just an intellectual position for Walter; correct?
A. I knew that intellectually. I didn’t have any physical awareness of it.
Q. Did Walter ever tell you that he thought it was a mutually desired situation between [Victim X] and himself?
A. I had read that in his book.
Q. Which book?
A. He wrote a book called “Greek Love” under the name of John Eglington.
Q. And you reviewed some of the manuscripts of that book before it was published?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. And did you contribute by doing proofreading?
A. I did proofreading, yes.
Q. Did you do some editorial work on that book?
A. I attempted to, but I found out afterward that everything I had done had been thrown out by the publisher, Robert Bashno (phonetic).
Q. But you did attempt to make some editorial changes to that book as it was being written?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. How did you hear that [mother of Victim X] had no complaints about the sexual relationship between your husband and her minor child?
A. She told me.
Q. So you did speak with her about this?
Q. And when did you speak with her about this?
A. It was, as I say, shortly after we were married.
Q. And what was the nature of the conversation with [mother of Victim X] regarding your husband’s sexual interactions with her son?
A. I don’t remember that we spent any time on it. Mostly she was telling me that I was not a good writer, that I was a commercial hack, and that she was a great and artistic poet. I told her that at least I could feed my kids on what I did, and that if she had kids to feed, she’d probably do it too or — that is, write commercially.
Q. What about the subject matter between the sex of your husband and her son did you discuss that led you to believe that she had no complaint about this sexual relationship?
A. I think what she said almost exactly was “I find nothing to complain about,” but I can’t remember exactly. That was, I think, about 25 or 30 years ago.
Q. So it was your personal opinion that a boy of 14 to 15 years old was old enough to make decisions about having sex with a 50-year-old man?
A. Yes, I was. I believe so. He was not 50 at the time.
Q. How old was he?
Q. Did you ever publicly defend Walter in terms of his not being a pedophile?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. And was that during the “Boondoggle”?
Q. Can you tell me why you would publicly state that Walter was not a pedophile when you knew that he had been having sex with a minor child?
A. Because, as I said, [Victim X] did not impress me as a minor child. He was late in his teens, and I considered him — I think he would have been old enough to be married in this state legally, so I figured what he did sexually was his own business.
[Editor’s note: In point of fact, the boy was 10 and 11 at the time in question.]
Q. The “Boondoggle” was partly — the subject matter was directed partly towards the sexual relationship with [Victim X] and Walter Breen; correct?
A. As far as I can remember, yes.
Q. And did you — Was the existence of that sexual relationship part of Walter’s defense in the “Boondoggle”?
A. As I say, it was a long time ago. I don’t remember whether I denied it or whether I said that it was nobody’s business.
Q. But you did one of the two, either denied it or said it was nobody’s business?
A. That’s right.
Q. At what point do you personally believe that it’s inappropriate to have sex with a minor child?
A. At this point I have no opinion on the matter.
Q. Were you at that time [in a fan publication during the Boondoggle-ed.] defending Walter Breen?
A. Yes, I was.
Q. And how were you defending Walter Breen?
A. By saying that whatever it was was nobody’s business but his.
Q. And, to your knowledge, did you ever publicly during that defense of Walter Breen state that it never happened?
A. I don’t remember, but I don’t think so.
Q. Did your daughter ever report that [Johnny Doe 1] had been found in Walter’s bed?
A. She did.
Q. Did you find that odd?
A. No. Walter had shared a bed with me on many occasions perfectly innocently.
Q. You knew that Walter was a pedophile at that time?
A. I knew it. Intellectually, yes, I knew it.
Q. And you knew that he was sharing a bed with a 13-year-old boy at that point; correct?
A. Yes. But, as I say, I believed Walter was impotent and nothing that could bother anyone could happen.
Q. Did you make any attempts to adopt [Johnny Doe 1]?
Q. Through what agency did you attempt to adopt [Johnny Doe 1]?
A. I think it was the Alameda County Children’s Protective Services or something to that effect. It was a long time ago, and I don’t really remember much about it.
Q. Did you have to undergo any kind of interviews or evaluation for the fitness of being adoptive parents?
A. Yes. We went to a class for counseling for adoptive parents.
Q. Did you tell her [Johnny Doe 1’s mother-ed.] that your husband and her child had been in bed together?
A. No, I did not.
Q. Why didn’t you?
A. It didn’t occur to me that it was important.
Q. Did you ever disclose to her that your husband was a pedophile?
A. I never thought of him that way.
Q. Did you ever tell her that your husband had a sexual relationship with a minor boy named [Victim X]? A. No.
Q. Did you ever disclose to the Berkeley — or strike that — the Alameda County Youth Authority, who you think it was, that your husband was a pedophile?
Q. Did you conceal that from them?
A. I didn’t think about it.
Q. Have you ever spoken to any of the parents of any minor children, informed them that Walter would never harm them?
A. I don’t remember.
Q. Have you ever told any of the parents of minor children that Walter was not a pedophile?
A. I don’t remember the subject has ever come up.
Q. Did you ever insist to Elisabeth Waters that Walter was incapable of molesting [Johnny Doe 3]?
A. I can’t remember, but it doesn’t sound like the sort of thing I would say.
Q. Elisabeth Waters in her 10-8-89 diary, which was given to the police, indicates the following: Quote, “And I feel like a total idiot for not having said anything back when I thought Walter was molesting [Johnnt Doe 3] ten years ago. I guess it was just another case of,” quote, “‘Don’t trust your own perceptions when the adults are telling you you’re wrong.’
“Marion insisted that Walter was incapable of it, and she was 22 years older than I and married, while I was very ignorant about sex.”
Does that refresh your recollection at all as to whether you had a conversation with Elisabeth Waters about the molestation of —
A. If she says so, it probably happened.
Q. Okay. Do you have any — Does that refresh your recollection about that conversation?
A. No. I don’t remember the conversation at all.
Q. Having had that read to you, do you recall telling Elisabeth that, that Walter would be incapable of molesting [Johnny Doe 3]?
A. No, I don’t.
Q. Do you know if Walter was incapable of giving oral sex to minor boys?
A. I have no idea. I know nothing at all about oral sex. I broke up both my own marriages over it.
Q. What was that last part?
A. I said I broke up both my own marriages over it.
Q. I’m going to read to you from the 10-9-89 entry of Elisabeth Waters.
“Marion always said she’d divorce Walter if he did this again. She seems to think that he molested both [Victim X] and [Johnny Doe 4], but she was rather startled when I told her about the letter to Dr. Morin about [Johnny Doe 3]. She said that she thought Walter thought of [Johnny Doe 3] as a son.”
Q. Did you state that you would divorce Walter if he ever did this again?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. What did you mean by doing this again?
A. I meant if he ever molested a young boy again.
Q. And when you say “again,” who were the other young boys that you were talking about him molesting?
A. [Victim X] especially.
Q. Any others?
A. I can’t remember any offhand.
Q. Are you aware of there being others?
A. There might have been. I would not have inquired into the matter.
Q. But to your knowledge, there might have been others besides [Victim X]?
A. There might have been.
Q. But you didn’t specifically inquire into that?
A. At the time I did not. I can look back now and see there might have been, but I didn’t know at the time.
Q. Did you ever warn any people in the general public about Walter’s tastes for young boys?
Q. You were aware that Walter had a sexual appetite for young boys?
A. I suppose I was.
Q. Did you ever warn people at the conventions of Walter’s sexual appetite for young boys?
A. No, I did not.
Q. Indeed you defended Walter’s expulsion from a convention on the basis of pedophilia, didn’t you?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. So in addition to never warning people, you actually defended his presence there, didn’t you?
A. I thought it was his own business.
Q. Did you ever tell Elisabeth Waters that children didn’t have erogenous zones?
A. I may well have.
Q. Do you have the belief that children don’t have erogenous zones?
A. At the time I believed it.
Q. And what time was that?
A. I think it was probably when my own kids were young.
Q. I’m going to show you what’s been marked as Plaintiffs’ Exhibit No. 3 [police inquiry into Ken Smith’s molestation-ed.], and I’m going to refer you to Page 4, the last paragraph of Plaintiffs’ Exhibit No. 3, Page 4. Quote, “I asked if she knew Ken Smith, and she said met him in the fall of1988, briefly because Breen had brought him over, but that she does not know his family.”
Does that refresh your recollection as to whether or not you had met Ken Smith?
A. I don’t remember him.
Q. Okay. So you don’t remember either way?
A. No, I don’t. I’ve been racking my brains back and forth, but I can’t remember ever meeting Ken Smith.
Q. In 1990, in that same page, you told the officer you did not think that Breen was actually engaging in sexual activity with young boys.
A. I believed that at the time.
Q. At that time you knew that he had sexual activity with [Victim X] when [Victim X] was under the age of 18, didn’t you?
A. Yes, I did. But as I said, [Victim X] was a teenager, and, as I remember, this was some little kid around 10, 12 years old.
Q. Prior to marrying Walter did you ever discuss his relationship with any young men under the age of 18?
A. I think the subject may have come up in passing, fleetingly. Certainly very little impression on me.
Q. When you say the subject “may have come up in passing, fleetingly,” can you tell me what you can recall about the subject coming up prior to your marrying him?
A. Maybe at that point we were discussing civilization and the fact that young men among the Greeks — well, the women, of course, at that time were idiots and uneducated and living in Perdock, and so the men had emotional and friendly relationships with members of their own sex, and that formed the topic of conversation. It was an interesting subject. We talked about it a bit.
Q. And at that point did Walter confide to you that he had sexual relationships with young men?
A. He did.
Q. And do you have an understanding of the names of any of those young men?
Q. Did he give you an indication of how many occasions he had sexual relationships with different young men?
A. No. We did not talk much about it. I gather it was something that just came up now and then.
Q. So it was your understanding it was something that Walter would engage in now and then?
Q. Didn’t you come to know about [Victim X] prior to marrying Walter?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. You knew he was under the age of 18, didn’t you?
Q. So your understanding at that time in 1964 is that there was nothing inappropriate about an older man asking a minor for sex so long as the young boy said no?
A. As long as the young boy is given plenty of opportunity to say no.
Q. At that time did you also believe if the young boy had said yes that would be okay then?
A. I had not thought a great deal about the matter, but I suppose yes, that is a fair statement.
Q. Okay. Did you ever ask your son whether Walter propositioned your son? We’ve mentioned now about this other gentleman, Mr. Bashlow, but did you ever ask your son whether Walter ever propositioned David?
A. It came up a few years ago.
Q. Tell me how it came up.
A. Well, somebody was talking about it, and afterwards I said to David, “Did Walter ever say anything to you about it?” and he said, “No. I was too old. I didn’t pay much attention to it.”
Q. Where did you have this discussion with David where he thought he was too old for Walter?
A. When he was 15 or so.
Q. So at the time that David was 15, David informed you that he believed that your then husband was not propositioning him because at that point David was too old for Walter’s tastes?
A. I think that’s what he said. To the best of my memory, that’s what he said.
Q. So you were curious enough to ask your own son whether your husband had made a sexual proposition to him?
A. I wouldn’t say I was concerned enough. I would simply say the matter came up in conversation.
Q. The question is: Did you undertake any action to prevent any further contact between Robert Bashlow and your then 13-year-old son after you learned that Mr. Bashlow had sexually propositioned your son?
A. Well, I would say that — that that was much more David’s business than anyone else.
Q. So you didn’t do anything to prevent Mr. Bashlow, did you, from coming in contact with your son?
A. No, I did not.
Q. Okay. So at that time it was your belief that a 13-year-old child was perfectly able to make their own decisions regarding sexual contact with adults?
A. I never thought that I was very intelligent, but this — my opinion at the moment was that 13-year-old young people were quite old enough to decide what they wanted to do.
Q. At the point you indicated at the time you had an understanding of when children could begin to make decisions regarding sex with adults, what time are you referring to, what time period?
A. I would say that in their middle teens most teenagers are perfectly capable of deciding what they want.
Q. Okay. When did you come to form that opinion in time? Was it in the ’60s? The ’70s?
A. During my own teens, in the ’40s and ’50s.
Q. So I’m asking you: Is your determination or understanding of when a child was able to make decisions regarding sex with an adult based on the size of that child and ability to physically defend themselves?
A. That would be one consideration.
Q. What other considerations would there be?
A. The general maturity of the child in question, the fact whether the adult was the kind of person to be threatening. If the adult was generally a non-threatening person, I think my attitude would have been no harm in asking if he takes no for an answer.
Q. Okay. And did you consider Walter to be non-threatening?
A. I certainly did.
Q. So, did you feel, then, there was no harm in Walter asking young children to have sex with him so long as he would take no for an answer?
Q. And until — down to what age would that be okay?
A. I don’t believe I ever considered the matter much.
Q. Did you ever come to a point in your life where knowing about your husband’s interest in young men, young boys, that you consciously made a decision that your sort of going to turn your head the other way and not think about it?
A. No, I did not come to such a decision consciously to turn away from it.
Q. Did you ever ask your daughter whether Walter had ever propositioned her?
A. No, I did not.
Q. But you did ask your son?
A. Yes; because — because I thought that Walter had a thing about young boys, which is not to be taken as being acceptable in this situation, and therefore I asked.
Q. Did you ever ask Patrick whether Walter had ever propositioned Patrick?
A. No, I did not.
Q. Can you explain why you asked your son David that question but you didn’t ask your son Patrick that question?
A. Yes. Because when we met Walter David was nine. I think when we first met Walter David was nine or ten. When I married him he was 13, and I understood that Walter liked boys that age. Patrick was a baby. Walter saw him born. It never even crossed my mind.
Q. Okay. Back in 1964 did you ask Walter whether he was still engaging in sexual acts with [Victim X]?
A. I did not.
Q. Did you make a conscious decision not to ask him about his relationship with [Victim X]?
A. Yes; because [mother of Victim X] — the subject came up between us. And before you ask, I do not remember how it came up, but somehow or other it came up, and [mother of Victim X] had said that she had no complaint to make about Walter’s relationship with her son.
Q. Okay. So at some point you had a discussionwith [mother of Victim X] regarding the sexual relationship between Walter and her son; right?
Q. And did you ask her how she felt about it?
A. I think she volunteered that. She said Walter’s influence on her son had been a good one all around.
Q. Did you ever ask [Victim X] how he felt about the sexual relationship with Walter?
A. All I have to say on that point is that once [Victim X] was a big strong boy, and if he had any objections, he could have tied Walter into a bow knot.
Q. My question is: Did you ever ask [Victim X] about how he felt about the relationship with Walter?
A. No, I did not because, as I say, he was big enough to take care of himself.
Q. Okay. In your last deposition you indicated that you had not seen [Victim X] since three years following the marriage with Walter Breen. Do you recall that testimony?
A. Yes, I do.
Q. During the three years that you did see [Victim X] during the marriage, was [Victim X] a frequent visitor at your home?
A. Yes, he was.
Q. Okay. To your knowledge, was he engaging in sexual activity with Walter during the three years that he was a visitor at your home?
A. I have no idea.
Q. Did you ever so inquire knowing that Walter had previously had a sexual relationship with [Victim X]?
A. I did not.
Q. Did you ever do anything to protect [Victim X] from any type of sexual contact with Walter Breen during the three years that he was a guest in your home following your marriage?
A. Oh, please. The idea of me protecting little [Victim X], good heavens.
Q. Did you ever do anything to protect [Victim X] from sexual contact with your husband during the three years following your marriage that you knew [Victim X] was around your home?
A. It never occurred to.
Q. You never asked [Victim X] if it was okay with him; right?
A. I never asked [Victim X] because I knew perfectly well that if anything was wrong he could come to me. We were on terms that — I mean, he was in my house. He was getting milk from my refrigerator. He was eating at our table. If anything had been wrong, he would have come to me and said, Marion, there is something wrong. I’m quite sure he would have.
Q. So, as long as he didn’t come to you and say, Marion, there is something wrong, you felt no need to inquire?
Q. Did it ever bother you that your husband might be sleeping with this boy?
A. I never gave it any thought.
page s 106-109
Q. Other than your discussion with Moira prior to her marriage regarding the legality or illegality of Walter’s contact with minor children, did you ever discuss that topic with anyone else?
A. I can’t think of anyone.
Q. When you and Walter were thinking about adopting [Johnny Doe 1], did you ever have a discussion with Walter saying, Walter, if we adopt [Johnny Doe 1] you can’t have sex with him?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. Okay. Tell me about that.
A. I just told him flat out that if we adopted [Johnny Doe 1] he would be our son and nothing else. That it was not to be a boyfriend or anything of that sort.
Q. At that point did you have any concerns thatWalter might be having sex with [Johnny Doe 1] such that it caused you to tell Walter that?
A. I did not. I was just sort of vaguely thinking back on our whole background.
Q. And when you say your “whole background,” what do you mean by that?
A. Of everything that had happened since I had first met Walter and everything everyone else had said about him.
Q. Now, you said that he would be your son and nothing else. Do you think that would put him in a different category than other young boys?
A. I don’t believe that I formulated it in any way.
Q. What did you mean by your statement to Walter that he would be our son and nothing else?
A. That if he had any idea in his mind that the boy might be a subject for his — his sexual interests, he should put that right out of his mind right away.
Q. Okay. And why would —
A. That if he ever had such an idea, and I wasn’t accusing him of it, that he should not continue thinking that way.
Q. All right. Was that solely because he was going to be adopted by you?
Q. So if he wasn’t to be adopted by you, then you would not have had this conversation with Walter about this boy being a part of his sexual interests?
A. I didn’t speculate on my husband’s affairs. We were no longer living together at that time, and I paid very little attention to what was going on.
Q. Okay. And did you feel that you had some responsibility to [Johnny Doe 1] to tell Walter —
A. Yes. That if we had adopted [Johnny Doe 1], he would have been our son.
Q. So, did you feel you had some responsibility to [Johnny Doe 1] to tell Walter no sex with [Johnny Doe 1]?
A. Yes. I laid down the law very firmly.
Q. All right.
A. It was one of the reasons we — we eventually split up.
Q. What do you mean by that?
A. He was very upset with me. He said I didn’t trust him, and, of course, I didn’t.
Q. So you didn’t trust Walter around young boys at that time, did you?
A. At that point, no.
Q. Okay. So you were concerned that Walter might have some inappropriate sexual relationship with [Johnny Doe 1] over at the other house?
Q. And you told him that that was completely prohibited; right?
Q. And how old did you understand [Johnny Doe 1] to be at that time?
A. I thought he was about 12 or 13.
Q. And how big was [Johnny Doe 1]?
A. He was small and fragile.
Q. So, did you feel you had a responsibility at that time to protect [Johnny Doe 1] from Walter?
A. Yes, I did. More than anybody else I felt very protective toward [Johnny Doe 1].
Q. And what was — made you feel that more than anybody else you had a responsibility to [Johnny Doe 1]?
A. Well, when he was around he’d come sit on my lap sometimes and things like that, so I developed a certain feeling that he didn’t have any other family and that I’d take care of him.
Q. Did Walter ever refuse to agree to your condition that he not have sex with [Johnny Doe 1]?
A. He didn’t. No, he didn’t.
Q. Did he ever agree to it?
A. I don’t remember. I don’t think he said in so many words no, I will not have sex with [Johnny Doe 1]. I think he said something like, You don’t have to worry about that or something.
Q. Was this topic of sex with [Johnny Doe 1] at all one of the reasons why [Johnny Doe 1] was never adopted?
A. Not that I know of.
Q. What was your understanding as to the reason why [Johnny Doe 1] wasn’t adopted?
A. I believe that his — his father was in prison, wanted to maintain a relationship with him and didn’t want him adopted.
Q. Were you ever interviewed by the people at CPS regarding the adoption?
A. Yes, I was. We went and attended a couple of classes on adoption.
Q. Did they ever ask you whether either of you had ever had any problems with sex with minors?
A. The question did not come up. Of that I am perfectly sure.
Q. What makes you say you’re perfectly sure of that?
A. Because I think I would have remembered that.
Q. Did you ever inform them that Walter had had a sexual relationship with [Victim X]?
A. No, I did not.
Q. Did you ever tell them that you were concerned about Walter perhaps having a sexual relationship with [Johnny Doe 1]?
A. No, I did not.
Q. Why didn’t you?
A. I think the only answer I can make to that is that it’s quite obvious that you have never been in love.
Q. Can you explain that further? I don’t understand your answer.
A. Simply that the subject did not come up even in my mind. It came up briefly, and I mentioned it, and that was the end of it.
Q. So the subject did come up in your mind enough for you to raise it Walter; correct?
Q. But you didn’t raise it with the child protective authorities?
Q. And you’re saying that’s because of your love for Walter?
A. I don’t know if by then it was love or just a general sense of protectiveness.
Q. So, was you’re not telling CPS an effort to protect Walter?
A. I suspect it must have been.
Q. Are there any other boys that you told Walter you’re not to have sex with that boy?
A. Well, Moira at one time complained that Walter was coming on to one of her boyfriends.
A. And I went up to Walter’s house and I said, “Look, this is not a good thing to do.”
Q. Okay. So Moira said to you she was afraid that Walter might be trying to have sex with [Johnny Doe 4]?
Q. And did you tell Walter not to have sex with [Johnny Doe 4]?
A. I just said that Moira would not approve.
Q. So it was based upon Moira being unhappy with the situation?
Q. Do you recall telling the police you met Ken Smith when Walter brought him around?
A. Yes, I do. I mean, sometime after he had been living in the gold fishbowl for quite awhile.
Q. You knew that he had Ken Smith over there; right?
A. Well, he came in one day with Ken Smith, so I assumed it.
Q. So you assumed at some point after Walter moved into the gold fishbowl and you rented it to Walter that Walter had Ken Smith over there; right?
Q. Did you ever tell Walter, You can’t molest Ken Smith over there?
A. I didn’t know him from Adam or Fox.
Q. But you met him and knew Walter had him over there and —
A. Oh, yes.
Q. Did you ever tell Walter, Ken Smith is off limits?
A. It never occurred to me. I think what I probably thought was that was up to Ken Smith to tell him if he didn’t want to.
Q. So at that point you believed it was up to Ken Smith to tell him if he didn’t want to have sex with Walter?
Note: This page originally appeared at http://sff.net/people/stephen.goldin/mzb/excerpts1.html, but that subsite is permanently offline. Stephen Goldin’s new site is here, but it does not contain the MZB tree (that I found). Apart from bringing the code up to HTML5, adjusting URLs to my own naming system, and fixing a couple of typos, what precedes the rule above this paragraph is entirely Stephen Goldin’s work excerpting Marion Zimmer Bradley’s testimony.