“Is your dad famous?” my agent asked when the globe’s largest publisher wouldn’t publish the memoir they bought for $175,000 without censoring out of it that he raped me—unless I could “prove it.”
He’s not. He’s just a man. He’s a man with an established history of felony activity and elaborate deception, even. I’m a man who built a career on an obsession with fact-checking and then spent six years working with psychologists and specialists who would testify all day that my memories of what he did have been processed through evidence-supported therapeutic modalities. But never mind. My word against his was not a bet the publisher would take in court in the event he sued, and the case maybe wasn’t thrown out, which were gambles Random House wouldn’t take.
In July, I walked into a police station in the small northeastern Ohio city where I grew up and told them I needed to file a report for child sex abuse. The woman behind the counter, who hadn’t been especially friendly up till then, made her tone both softer and more serious. She took out a pen and a small piece of paper. The victim was me, I told her when she asked. I’m not a child anymore, I pointed out needlessly as I stood 70 inches tall and bearded in front of her. When she asked me the address, my mother and I looked at one another with mutually wide eyes; she thought I’d know those first two street numbers we lived at, and I’d thought she would. Another one I did. The others, we successfully tracked down (fact-checking!) as we sat in the lobby where the woman had directed us to wait for an officer.