Spectral Evidence: The Ramona Case: Incest, Memory, and Truth on Trial in Napa Valley

By Moira Johnston | Go to book overview

11
The Gathering of Witnesses

Holly was lying in bed in her mother's new house in Napa after her first deposition in December when she had a memory that was different from all the others -- it took place not in Diamond Bar but at the house in St. Helena. "The memory is of me in bed . . . My father is on top of me, and he is putting his penis partway inside of me . . . and there is me watching from far away. And the time is at night." The memory reappeared several times as she lay there. She could see her orange and beige bedspread. She was between fourteen and sixteen years old. Her memories of rape now extended from ages five to sixteen -- twelve years.

But just at the time this new memory came to her, Holly's lawsuit against him was unraveling. The problem was the sodium amytal. Holly had staked her entire case on memories emerging from a drug deemed so unreliable that the testimony produced under its soporific haze was largely forbidden in court. If you underwent hypnosis or sodium amytal, you would probably not be allowed to testify in your own case. Naive, Holly had let her first attorney state, back in the original filing of her lawsuit on New Year's Eve 1990, that sodium amytal was the sole source of her memories and of her charges of abuse; none of her earlier flashbacks was mentioned -- a serious error. William Tyson, Holly's new lawyer in Northern California, where so much of the legal activity was taking place, made the same error in the complaint he filed. When Holly hired Pat Gray to try her case, Gray saw "this huge mistake." An attorney who had been trying recovered memory cases since 1985 and, with Mary Williams, fighting for abuse victims' access to the courts, Gray prepared for trial aggres

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