This is my story.
"PASADENA--Police arrested a motel employee Wednesday after he allegedly groped two women during a breakfast buffet.
Jose Martinez, 35, was booked on suspicion of misdemeanor sexual battery, Pasadena police Sgt. John Luna said.
Martinez was working about 9 a.m. at a motel in the 1200 block of East Colorado Blvd. when the incident occurred, the sergeant said.
He groped the lower bodies of two 29-year-old women, above their clothes, Luna said.
After his arrest, Martinez confessed to the groping, police said."
I wrote about this at the time. And, in truth, at the time, I was pretty disturbed by what had happened. However, when I wrote the story, I added in humor in some sort of attempt to make light of the situation. It's what I do. I make jokes to break the tension in my own life. It was minor, but it was NOT OKAY and it was NOT FUNNY.
In 2011, two of my friends and I spent a couple of days in Pasadena. On the first morning, I stood at the counter of the continental breakfast, waiting to make a waffle.
A male employee was going in and out of the room checking on things. He walked past me and groped my butt. My brain began to process what had just happened. Could it have been an accident? Was there any way that someone could accidentally grope a butt for that long? Was there anyway that someone could have mistakenly done something so overtly sexual? I walked up to my friend. "Maybe it was an accident but I think..."
We quickly realized that he'd done the same thing to both of us.
As I waited for my waffle to be done, I kept my butt firmly planted against the counter. When the waffle was finished, I turned to remove it from the iron. I saw him coming out of the corner of my eye. It was as though he'd been waiting for me to turn around. I saw him reach out and I felt the same unfamiliar hand inappropriately touching me in the middle of a breakfast buffet. I tensed. My nerves buzzed. At this point, I was pretty shaken. The first time I was disturbed but confused. The second time left absolutely no room for confusion.
I went to my table and told my friends, "It happened again." My arm was shaking and unsteady. Setting my waffle down, I hit the cup of hot chocolate I'd already made. It flew up in the air, sailed forward, and dumped down the front of my white pants. Embarrassed and emotional, I blurted out, "That's how worked up I am about all this." A man asked if I was burned and began to help clean up the mess. The man who had touched me, whose name I later learned was Alfredo or Jose (the news article called him Jose. The court documents call him Alfredo), came immediately over to our table.
I assured everyone that I was alright and I backed up into a corner to protect my butt from further touching. As everyone else tried to clean up the mess, I stood, frozen, against the wall. Jose/Alfredo asked me, repeatedly, if I was okay. I largely ignored him and then left to change my clothes.
I headed up to my room but, in my state of shock or panic or whatever it was, I wasn't sure which room was ours. I went back down to my friends, still covered in chocolate and asked them. As I got back into the elevator, I saw Jose/Alfredo coming toward me. I frantically pushed the button to close the elevator doors but he darted in just as the door was closing. I was 29. I should have screamed. I should have tried to jump out. I should have done something other than stand there, frozen. But I did not. I could not. I stared at the ground. His shoes were covered in paint.
I thought he was going to rape me.
The touching had been unwelcome, unexpected, unwanted, and completely inappropriate. But the elevator ride, the myriad of terrifying thoughts I had in those few seconds, was horrible.
"Are you okay?" he asked me.
"I'm fine," I said as firmly and unmoved as I could. Make yourself seem fierce. Make yourself seem bigger and braver. I squared my shoulders.
"Are you sure?" he asked.
"Yes! I am sure," I exclaimed. I should have slapped him across his face and told him never to touch me again. I should have, at the very least, told him that I was covered in hot chocolate because of him. I did not. I could not. All I could think was that he would stop the elevator between floors and hurt me. Or that he would wait until I was in my room and use some master key to force his way in.
He asked me my name. I have no idea why I told him. I should have said it was none of his business. I should have, at the very least, given him a fake name.
He repeated it, smiling. The door opened and I dashed out. Then I stopped abruptly, terrified that he was going to follow me. Thankfully, he went right and I needed to go left. I changed my clothes as quickly as I could and dashed back down to my friends.
"He followed me onto the elevator," I told them.
We all went back up to our room to decide what to do. We talked about our options. We knew we wouldn't stay a second night. We didn't feel safe there. Ultimately, we decided to call my dad, who is in law enforcement.
I think I somehow believed that it wasn't a big deal. Because society feeds us this lie that it's not a big deal. Because Harvey Weinstein can get away with rape and lewd and lascivious conduct for decades. Because it was only my butt. Because he hadn't assaulted me on that elevator. Because he didn't force himself into my room. The truth is that, yes, it was my clothed butt. A whole lot worse has happened to a whole lot more people. Thank goodness for my father. He knows the penal codes and he told me to call the police immediately.
In California, penal code 243.4(e) Any person who touches an intimate part of another person, if the touching is against the will of the person touched, and is for the specific purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, is guilty of misdemeanor sexual battery. As used in this subdivision, "touches" means physical contact with another person, whether accomplished directly, through the clothing of the person committing the offense, or through the clothing of the victim. "Intimate part" means the sexual organ, anus, groin, or buttocks of any person, and the breast of a female.
When the officer arrived, he was so kind and caring. He said that what we described was minor sexual assault. I do not bring up the fact that he said "minor" to in any way imply that he made light of the situation. Rather, to hear an on duty officer who wasn't my father describe the incident as assault was simultaneously overwhelming and relieving. He gave us the option of pressing charges. At that point, wanting to be free of the situation, we opted for a stern tongue lashing by officers in uniform. Ultimately, we just didn't want this to keep happening to other women. We watched the scene unfold from our window. More cops showed up and, suddenly, Jose/Alfredo was being cuffed. We found out later that the officer had pulled surveillance video from the buffet. He said that what he saw was so obvious and so predatory in nature that an arrest must be made. One of the officers who had arrived on the scene, a female, commended us for calling. She said that all too often, these things go unreported. She said we did everything right.
I credit my dad. When I would have otherwise been way too afraid to speak up, way too worried about confrontation, way too embarrassed or timid, he gave me courage. I never saw the tape. I only felt what I felt. But, later, the district attorney was very disturbed by the footage she saw. She wanted a punishment more severe than we ever would have thought in those first few minutes.
It was only my butt. But it was unsolicited and wildly inappropriate. I stood with my back against things for a long while after. I became much more aware of my surroundings. The fear that he was going to rape me, the thought that I would be powerless to stop it if he tried, those feelings stayed with me for a long time. Still, I sometimes feel uneasy when I'm on an elevator alone with another man.
People are wondering why these young Hollywood women didn't speak out at the time. There were two of us. We were 29 year old wives and mothers and we didn't exactly know what to do or say. He was a motel employee. To expect young and terrified women to have stood up to a Hollywood mogul when they think that they're the only one is unrealistic.
We must first create an environment where women (and men) are not afraid that speaking up and speaking out won't make things worse. Until then, individuals in positions of power will continue to get away with horrible atrocities. Perhaps, in order to create such an environment, more people need to tell their stories. Perhaps then, the world would be forced to listen.
Think what you want of Megyn Kelly but this is a good and short watch. And then, if you're feeling like getting worked up, read the comments. So many of them blame the women. So many. What can we do to change this narrative?
If you hate Megyn Kelly, watch Anderson Cooper instead.
The link to the article about our encounter can be found here.