WORCESTER — “A Charlton man testified yesterday that he was sexually abused 38 years ago by a University of Massachusetts Medical School student in the student’s apartment bedroom while the then-10-year-old’s friends were in the living room smoking the student’s marijuana.
Timothy Clark, 48, testified that the abuse went on for several years, until Mr. Clark and a friend got caught playing hooky after they rode in the muscle car of the student, Richard B. Edison, before another marijuana party at Mr. Edison’s house. Mr. Edison is now a plastic surgeon in Hollywood, Fla., who denies the allegations made in the civil jury trial in U.S. District Court.
Also testifying yesterday was Erik D. Nelson, a Worcester psychologist who treated Mr. Clark for post-traumatic stress disorder in 2008, the year that, Mr. Clark testified, he recovered the memory of the abuse. Defense lawyer John O. Mirick tried to make the case that Mr. Clark’s PTSD could stem from an abusive mother and father, rather than abuse for which he said Mr. Nelson has only the word of his patient. While the psychologist said he was aware of other stress factors in his patient’s life, he testified the trauma stemmed from the sex abuse his client suffered at the hands of Mr. Edison.
A jury of five women and three men is hearing the case based on a civil suit filed by Worcester lawyer Stephen Gordon.
Mr. Clark described how in 1974, when he was 10, he was intrigued by Mr. Edison’s red Cutlass “muscle car.” He said Mr. Edison gave him more intimate invitations, from driving around in the car, to steering it from the passenger seat, to steering while sitting on Mr. Edison’s lap — Mr. Clark’s feet wouldn’t reach the pedals — to going up to his apartment and listening to Led Zeppelin on a stereo.
Mr. Edison lived in the same apartment complex on Yorkshire Terrace in Shrewsbury as Mr. Clark and two older brothers and their divorced mother. Mr. Clark said he smoked marijuana for the first time in Mr. Edison’s apartment.
He said Mr. Edison began rolling on the floor with him and showed him the “crusher,” which the medical student said was a wrestling move that involved the older man getting on top of him and rubbing himself on the boy’s buttocks. Soon, he said, the behavior moved to Mr. Edison’s bedroom.
Sometimes Mr. Clark’s brothers would also be present or other children from ages 10 to 13, Mr. Clark said, and they would smoke marijuana and listen to music while Mr. Clark and Mr. Edison disappeared into the bedroom, locking the door. The witness said his mother, who eventually died from a heroin overdose, forbade him to see Mr. Edison, but she worked up to three jobs at a time, leaving the boys unsupervised. He disobeyed her.
“I trusted him,” Mr. Clark testified. “He was going to be a doctor.”
Mr. Clark said he was spending three or four days a week at Mr. Edison’s apartment. “It got more and more intense. It became a relationship,” he said.”
I absolutely believe Mr. Clark’s memories. There is no way that a man is going to get on a witness stand and admit to the court and to the public that, at age ten, eleven and twelve, he was in a sexual “relationship” with a grown man.
I might have been wrong yesterday when I stated Mr. Clark probably recalled the sexual abuse at his mother’s grave because she did not protect him from his perpetrator. I think Mr. Clark might also have been angry with her for forbidding him to see Mr. Edison. He went against his mother’s wishes and did it anyway, but he was probably angry and defiant over her trying to keep him from enjoying the relationship he had with his abuser. As sick, dysfunctional, and abusive as it was….the child in these situations does not always see it that way.
Society looks at all cases of child sexual abuse and says, “Oh how horrible that must have been for the child.” But many times, the child might say, “No, it wasn’t so bad. I liked getting attention, gifts, and the sexual stuff sometimes felt good.”
Mr. Clark may have simultaneously been angry with his mother for not being there to protect him and to be a real mother, but also angry at her for trying to keep him from the man who was providing the boy with what he so desperately needed –a form of love. To many children, sexual abuse is LOVE.
Please don’t write me and tell me I don’t know what the hell I am talking about, because I speak from personal experience here. I felt these exact emotions with my own parents.
“After two years, when the family moved to Brandywine Village on the other side of Shrewsbury, Mr. Edison soon moved there, too, Mr. Clark testified before Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV. It was not long before “the same routine” continued there, only with different youths being left outside the bedroom of Mr. Edison’s apartment, Mr. Clark said.
The family moved to Lincoln Village in Worcester in 1978 and not long after the red Cutlass pulled up to the basketball court there, where Mr. Clark was practicing. Mr. Clark convinced a friend to skip school with him the next day and go to Mr. Edison’s apartment in Shrewsbury.
The three of them smoked marijuana, Mr. Clark testified, and Mr. Edison got atop the friend, tickling him until the friend was overcome by an asthma attack. “Rick and I went in the bedroom…” and eventually Mr. Edison took the two boys back to Worcester, Mr. Clark said.
But the boys got caught playing hooky and, with Mr. Clark’s friend’s mother involved, they took Mr. Edison to Central District Court in Worcester. The charge was disturbing the peace, but he said he never saw Mr. Edison again.
Mr. Clark said memories of the pot smoking and sexual abuse came tumbling out unexpectedly, “just like shock and awe,” when he visited his mother’s grave on Mother’s Day in 2008.”
The fact that Mr. Clark began to remember the sexual abuse on Mother’s Day is also indicative of his anger. Mother’s are supposed to protect, love and nurture their children. Mr. Clark probably felt abandoned and betrayed by his mother.
Days before I first began to remember being sexually abused by my father, I got a phone call from the Police Protective League asking for a financial donation.
They did not know my father had been a police officer, it was merely a random call, and to most other people, the phone call would have appeared normal and innocent.
However, after hanging up the telephone, anger began to well up inside of me. At the time, I had not yet remembered the incest, so I had no idea what triggered my rage. The request for a charitable donation was nothing strange, and the person on the other end of the phone had been polite and understanding when I declined to give them money.
Police officers are supposed to protect and defend children, so the phone call was a trigger that began to dislodge my memories.
In the days following the phone call, I experienced terrible symptoms, including chest pain, rapid heart beat, and a pathological hunger that was close to unbearable. It was not long after this that I had my first repressed memory of incest come out of the shadows of the darkest corners of my mind.