Victim of 'gay' rape fights back
California, What's the Matter withGeneral
© Jack Cashill
On the drive back to the Alameda Naval Station from San Francisco, Steven Nary would testify, Juan Pifarre told him that he had been to a party earlier. There he had had too much to drink and done too much cocaine, both likely true. He wasn’t sure that he could make it across the bridge and back, likely false.
“His wife was out of town,” Pifarre told Nary. He suggested that Nary “could stay at his house. He could call some girls.” Pifarre, in fact, did have a wife, however sham a marriage that was, and Nary had seen him with girls. A naïve 18 year-old, he had no reason to be overly suspicious, and he consented.
Along the way, Pifarre pulled the car over in a commercial area, promised to come right back, and exited. When he did come back, the interaction began to change.
“He started touching my leg,” Nary testified, “and asking for a blow job.” Nary scooted away from him and pushed his hand off. Pifarre persisted, and Nary continued to resist. Pifarre then flashed some twenties he had gotten at the ATM where he had stopped.
Exasperated and still inebriated, Nary finally accepted the $40, as he claimed, just to shut Pifarre up. Nary volunteered the information about accepting the money to the police. The prosecutors would hang him with it.
When they got to the house, the first thing that Pifarre did was to offer Nary some more alcohol. Nary tells me that he declined the booze and asked for water. Pifarre went with him to show him where the glasses were.
“I don’t remember if I filled the glass up or if he did,” says Nary. After drinking the water, all that Nary wanted to do was go to sleep, and he told Pifarre this. But now Pifarre started hounding him for oral sex.
“I told him I just wanted to go to sleep,” Nary testified, but Pifarre would not let up. “The next thing I remember,” Nary testified, “was laying on the bed and him putting a condom on me and giving me a blow job.” Prosecutor John Farrell ridiculed Nary on this point:
You don’t know how your clothes got off.”
“You don’t know how your shirt got off.”
“And you don’t know how you’re penis got erect, right? Is that right?”
“I guess, I mean. It just happened. I was there and he was putting a condom on me and giving me a blow job.”
The scene got quickly more unsettling. Pifarre persisted, now demanding anal sex. What follows is the critical excerpt from Nary’s letter of May 15:
I have struggled with trying to understand why I let it all just happen. When I rolled over and pulled up my pants he continued to ask me if he could give me anal sex. I said no and that I just want to go to sleep. After some time, he started pulling my shorts down to force anal sex on me. He succeeded in pulling my pants down enough for him to try to continue. I felt stuck. I could not speak. I could not move, and I could not do anything. He just kept trying and trying over and over. In fact it brings me to tears as I write this because I have avoided this image for so long.
The reader does well to recall that Tim Schwager had had “memory flashbacks of trying to fight [Andrew Cunanan] off during the night,” and when he came to, he had no clothes on and no memory of how they came off.
Had Nary’s public defender, Bruce Hotchkiss, introduced the idea of a drugging—and there was also ample opportunity at the Palladium for Pifarre to have done so--Nary’s behavior would have made perfect sense.
At the time, the use of date rape drugs was widespread in gay society. Hotchkiss may not have known how prevalent the drugs were. Given their sensitivity on gay issues, especially in the Bay Area, the straight media have completely avoided the topic.
Still, Pifarre and Cunanan inhabited the same city at the same time, used many of the same drugs, and ran in overlapping circles. There is no evidence that they knew each other, but they shared certain lifestyle choices.
One has to wonder where Pifarre got the confidence to go to a straight club, hustle a straight kid, and expect to succeed. Some part of it may have been his skill at exploiting the loneliness and isolation of boys like Nary, especially if they were drunk. Part of it too may have been his willingness, perhaps even his eagerness, to take on rough trade. But given Nary’s behavior, the best explanation is that Pifarre drugged him.
Ironically, however, Nary is not looking for excuses. He has converted to Catholicism in prison and feels the need to accept responsibility for everything he has done, including the oral sex and the death of Pifarre.
Besides, he knows that if he goes into his first parole hearing a few years hence playing innocent victim, “This system will never let me out.” In fact, though, Nary responded to Pifarre’s assault the way any rape victim would, at least one who had a fighting chance of success and who could summon the will and courage that Nary did. Hotchkiss asked:
“What did you do at that point?”
“I then tried to push him away?”
“Were you able to push him off?”
“What was he saying, if anything?”
“He continued to tell me he wanted to give – screw me from behind.”
“What did you do at that point?”
“I then grabbed a cup that was by the bed that had previously had water in it and hit him in the head with it.”
As Nary testified honestly, he had never been in a fight before in his life, never even lost his temper, but when he somehow got his mind back that night and his will, he fought off Pifarre like a man possessed.
Pifarre had picked the wrong kid to rape. Nary does not really remember the sequence of events, never did. At his attorney’s request, he tried to fill in the blanks as best he could, but the prosecutor walked all over him, made him sound evasive as well as violent, mocking Nary with every question.
“Well, you hit him with the mug again and again at the door, right?”
“I don’t remember hitting him with the mug again and again.”
“But you might have, right?”
“It’s a possibility, yes?”
“So, it’s a possibility you hit him with the mug, but you just don’t remember that detail?”
“After the first hit it went very quickly, so it wasn’t a matter of remembering anything.”
Although the prosecutor would portray Pifarre as small and pudgy, he outweighed Nary and was not without power of his own. His friend Raymond Sloane testified to this at the trial. “Mr. Pifarre had a bravado, had a charisma, and I think it, you know, expanded as he was drinking.” When Hotchkiss asked if Pifarre could become belligerent when he drank, Sloane answered simply, “He could.”
After the blow by the bedside, the fight shifted into the bathroom where Nary contends Pifarre tried to gouge his eyes out and where Nary countered by grabbing a towel rack and striking back.
When Nary had finally subdued the relentless Pifarre, he grabbed his clothes as best he could, fled into the early morning darkness, and eventually made his way back to the base.
Four days later, after talking to the chaplain, Nary called the police and turned himself in, not knowing that Pifarre was dead. Fearful of upsetting the Clinton administration in an election year and the host city on a gay issue, the Navy shamefully ignored its own regulations in its haste to rid itself of this now troublesome sailor.
The judge set bail at $1 million. The figure shocked Nary’s public defender because, as the San Francisco Chronicle would report, “The suspect called police voluntarily and asked to be picked up.”
Besides, Nary had “defensive wounds,” and the bail for first time defendants in a passion crime almost never exceeded $250,000.
No matter. Nary was about to learn lesson one in his unwilled study of San Francisco tectonics: don’t expect justice when you oppose two powerful cultural plates. Expect, in fact, to be crushed.
Next, the final installment of this 5-part series: Homophobic? Hang Him High!
Cashill’s newest book, What’s the Matter with California, is available in bookstores - or you can order your autographed copy online .
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