Sharon Mitchell Article


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Mention aporn” and “rape” in the same sentence and you are bound to get a whole lot of people upset. It doesn’t matter if you support the idea that sexually explicit material leads to violence against women, if you think the connection is a crock of shit or if you fall somewhere in between, just about everyone you ask has thoughts on the matter. Activists and advocates attempt to prove or disprove such correlations all the time, but rarely do we get to see their arguments take center stage as they have in an Orange Country rape trial. The case involves the three young boys who are accused of gang-raping a then 16 year old classmate. It would perhaps be little more than a case of she-said/they-said were it not for the fact that one of the boys video-taped the entire incident. In mounting a defense for the boys, attorneys have introduced the idea that the alleged-victim was a wanna-be porn star who was trying to launch her career with a little gang bang action. To back up their point, the defense team has turned to medical experts and even tried to trot out X-Rated star turned industry health expert, Sharon Mitchell.

The defendants in this case, Greg Haidl, Kyle Nachreiner and Keith Spann were 17 at the time and video taped their ‘encounter’ with the 16 year old girl identified only as “Jane Doe.” They are accused of giving the alleged victim beer, marijuana and possibly even lacing another drink with something stronger. With their victim incapacitated, the boys then savagely raped her, capturing the entire thing on tape. Somehow the teens misplaced the Sony camcorder containing the tape. It was found by some other teenagers staying in a Newport Beach rental and turned over to the police. Adding to the circus atmosphere of the case is the fact that Haidl is the son of an Orange County assistant sheriff. Faced with video-taped evidence, the defense has attempted to paint the alleged victim as a willing participant who consented to the activity as part of an attempt to launch a porn career.

During a one-week recess, the defense team tried to convince Judge Francisco Brise�o to allow Mitchell to testify while the jury was away. Her appearance was brief, but filled with nuggets that would seem to back up the defense team’s claims. Mitchell told the court that porn actresses often fake intoxication or unconsciousness to satisfy consumer tastes. “There’s a fantasy and fetish for everything,” she said, adding that some porn fans even request porn involving actors “pretending to be dead.” She noted that the girl performed sex in the reverse cowgirl position and was well positioned to receive objects. Though she felt that “all in all, it was a very amateur effort to make a porn film,” Mitchell did point out that the boys were kind enough to lube the objects (A Snapple bottle, fruit juice can and pool cue to name a few) before inserting them into her vagina and anus. Most damning to the prosecution was Mitchell’s conclusion that, in her expert opinion Doe was “clearly conscious.”

Forgetting for a moment that Mitchell’s testimony as to the state of the girl directly contradicts a stream of prosecution witnesses; there is the issue of her claim that actresses often fake such behaviors. Perhaps Sharon is referring to porn made long before I started watching in the mid 80’s or possibly to some odd-ball niche smut market that I’m not aware of. During the past fifteen years or so, mainstream porn has been virtually free of any movies involving girls who are passed out, dead or even intoxicated to the point of incapacitation. Women who are sleeping is a theme touched on in a handful of movies, mostly from Elegant Angel in the 90’s. One entire movie, “Sleeping Booty” was dedicated to that theme; however the late night, sneaky-sex was quite different than the brutality suggested by Mitchell and shown in the Haidl tape.

To believe Mitchell, one would have to imagine that the porn shelves of America are filled with titles that feature sweet teens intoxicated and passed out as they are violated. To the best of my recollection, only one such movie was ever made. In 1995, Paul Norman directed and Zane Entertainment released “Sorority Sluts: Passed Out” which features actresses portraying college girls at a party who drink enough to vomit and then pass out. Once unconscious the women are sodomized and have their faces rubbed in fake vomit. It was far from a raging success and vanished into bargain-bin obscurity almost before the “New Release” sticker on the box could become smudged by curious customers. The porn landscape is littered with piggy-backed successes and if this movie were even a moderate money-maker, dozens of imitators would have popped up immediately. A decade later, no one has attempted to re-create Norman’s efforts.

Though scenes where performers are playing dead are more common, they are still far from the norm. JM Productions released “Perverted Stories: The Movie” last year and included a scene where Jessica Darlin is murdered and then used as a sex doll post-mortem. The scene, complete with pale body make up and a lifeless Darlin was disturbing even in the X-rated attempt at a horror flick. In general though, porn stays away from such displays. Undoubtedly Mitchell is correct that there are people who have a fetish for this sort of material, but to say that it is common is more than a stretch. A handful of scenes in fifteen years just don’t indicate a huge market or interest in dead or unconscious women.

In recent years, Max Hardcore and Extreme Associates have gotten into a great deal of trouble for venturing into territory that falls far short of the barbaric behavior Haidl and his friends are accused of. When Max shot a scene with a visibly intoxicated performer (Olivia) for his movie “Maxed Out 20,” he found himself investigated and nearly jailed. What both Mitchell and the Haidl defense ignore is the illegality of shooting a performer, willing or not, who is too intoxicated to give consent. Rob Black’s ongoing legal troubles stemming form his mixture of sex and violence have been the subject of dozens of news reports. The simulated rapes and murders of “Forced Entry” repelled consumers in droves and brought nothing but legal woes to the company. These scenes do exist, but appear in perhaps a dozen of the last hundred thousand releases to come from Porn Valley. If the alleged victim was working with her attackers to create a porn movie, then a reasonable person would have to wonder where Ms. Doe was getting her career advice.

Faced with video-taped evidence of such a heinous crime, one can understand a defense team that would reach for any straw, any theory that might put a positive spin on their clients’ behavior. One can even respect Mitchell’s opinion that that Jane Doe could have been conscious for at least part of the video-taped sex. Her testimony fits the defense claims that Ms. Doe was a willing participant in a poorly produced porn video. To believe this however; one has to ignore law enforcement and medical experts who contradict these claims and buy into the idea that a sixteen year old girl hoped to break into porn by starring in a movie where she is drugged, pretending to be unconscious and then violated with bottles, cans and pool cues. Anything is possible of course, but even in an industry fueled by profit and driven by those with often shaky moral compasses, there isn’t anyone knocking down the door to produce and ‘under-age, passed out and violently raped’ line of smut videos. Perhaps the defense team will close their arguments by suggesting that the four teens were simply way ahead of their time. For the right amount of cash, I am sure an ‘expert’ witness can be found to back up that theory as well.

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