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The only real evidence against him was the word of his victim, and his own roughly two months worth of e-mail.
No one testified about such cyberculture quirks as the notorious difficulty in distinguishing the truth or fantasy of e-mail postings.
The verdict came as a shock to courtroom observers who, unlike the jury, had access to the uncensored, and highly titillating, e-mail exchanges between Jovanovic and his accuser, 57 pages of exchanges that took place both before and after the alleged torture incident that marked their only off-line date.
By ignoring 'Net dynamics and accepting his e-mail postings as pure representations of truth rather than admixtures of fantasy, the verdict exposed the failure of many traditional institutions to grasp the psychological upheaval wrought by cyberculture.
Legal maneuvering stripped the victim's e-mail of its many references to her interest and participation in bondage and domination experiences, experiences that in themselves commonly turn gender roles upside down.
The unexpurgated e-mail, however, is not only key to the case, it is a great prism for viewing the new havoc in relationships playing out on-line.
And her post-torture behavior also appeared inconsistent.Otherwise they move on." Out of this often-kinky culture arose the celebrated cybersex trial, New York's first Internet-related sexual assault case.Last May, Oliver Jovanovic, a Columbia University doctoral candidate, was sentenced to 15 years to life for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman he had met and corresponded with on the Internet.ZZ5 testified that she did not begin to resist Jovanovic until three or more hours into their date: She said the reason she took so long to say no to his atrocities was that she felt intellectually intimidated by Jovanovic, that she initially thought his tying her up "was a joke," and that she had trouble "being assertive." "I don't now, but I did then," she said, before dissolving in tears on the stand.
This testimony by an admitted bullshitter seemed to give the defense a good chance to prove its case for consent.ZZ5, who claimed interests in art, public speaking, writing and politics, was so proud of her ability in BSing that she had noted it on a high school information card. During the trial, ZZ5 testified that after Jovanovic drove her from her dorm to have dinner on the night of November 21, 1996, she willingly accompanied him home to his small New York apartment. She sat next to him, looking at photos in an art book and watching a video that they had discussed in their e-mail--works whose imagery included still lifes of cut-up corpses, and scenes of hideously maimed live people in various stages of torture.