Governor Schwarzenegger, Rape is Rape
© Jack Cashill
A female sailor, 18 years-old, leaves her ship in the East Bay and takes the BART into San Francisco. She meets up with a friend, and they go to the Palladium, a co-ed dance club for the under-25 set.
Like many sailors before her, male and female, this one has had too much to drink. She has gotten separated from her friend so she sits at a table by herself and watches the dancers.
An older gentleman, mid-50s with a charming Spanish accent, sits down at the same table. He is with two women. They leave, and he sidles over next to her.
The man’s interest in her seems entirely fatherly. And she, away from home for the first time, naïve and a little lonely, welcomes his conversation.
She checks her watch. Realizing the last BART will soon be heading back, she excuses herself to leave. He tells her that he is driving out that way and would be happy to drop her off. Trusting, and still a little drunk, she accepts.
As they approach the seven-mile long Bay Bridge, the man confesses to having drunk too much and done too much coke. He suggests that she come back to the house where he and his wife live. She can spend the night—it is already very late—and he will drive her back in the morning. She accepts.
She remembers little that happens thereafter until he climbs on top of her, now naked, and attempts to rape her. She begs him to stop. He won’t. She grabs a mug off the nightstand and clobbers him with it.
She continues to fight him off until he passes out. She grabs her clothes as best she can and heads out into the unknown streets of some distant part of the city and tries to make her way back to the ship.
When she finally returns to her ship, she has her wounds treated and then tells the chaplain what happened. As she discovers to her horror, the would-be rapist died in the fracas.
It turns out that the man was a leading Hispanic activist. The Navy, not wanting to ruffle feathers in an election year like 1996, turns her over to the San Francisco police.
The police arrest her. The DA tries her for second-degree murder. A pro-Hispanic jury in an anti-military town convicts her of second degree murder and sends her to prison for 16 years to life.
Upon learning of such a case, is there a single thinking person who would not be outraged? Would not the streets of San Francisco fill with indignant women’s groups and friends of the military demanding justice?
Well, this is a true story. Only one fact has been changed. The sailor was a male. His name is Steven Nary, and no organized group has raised a peep in his defense.
As a result, after thirteen years in prison, Nary was just recently denied parole for at least five more years.
In truth, Nary’s case is even more troubling than the hypothetical case described above. His would-be rapist, Juan Pifarre, had entered the country illegally and stayed through a sham marriage.
Pifarre had a history. His one time attorney and neighbor, Ralph Johansen, would testify that he had once defended Pifarre on an assault charge stemming from an incident at the same dance club.
Apparently, Pifarre had grabbed the crotch of a 19 year-old male and asked for oral sex. This led to a fight in which both were charged with battery.
Johansen had lived downstairs from Pifarre in San Francisco’s Castro district for 13 years until 1993. Many a night he saw Pifarre come home with what appeared to be young military types.
Often he heard “lots of noise, lots of screaming,” and at least once he heard a full-blown fight that culminated in a fist going through a window.
Would this chubby 53 year-old predator have gone to a co-ed dance club and attempted to rape a presumably straight sailor without some means of accomplishing this?
At the time, date rape drugs were all the rage in the darker recesses of gay culture, and Nary’s behavior was entirely consistent with someone who had been drugged. This did not come up at the trial.
Johansen characterized Pifarre as being “cold and angry” all of the time and often drunk. On still another occasion, he attempted to fondle an undercover officer in the restroom of San Jose park and was promptly arrested.
Pifarre’s behavior apparently did not change a whole heck of a lot when he moved to the Potrero Hill home where he died.
There, according to trial testimony, the downstairs neighbor gave “sort of a smirk” when the police asked whether she had ever heard altercations upstairs before.
In the early morning hours of March 24, 1996, the sounds of violence had frightened her to tears, but tellingly, neither she nor her husband had thought to call the police.
None of this mattered at the Kangaroo trial Nary endured in 1999, a trial timed to coincide with the Laramie, Wyoming trial for one of Matthew Shepard’s killers.
Nary went up for parole for the first time on June 24, right in the middle of gay pride week. San Francisco sent an assistant DA 200 miles to attend his parole hearing and make sure that Nary did not get out prematurely.
City officials still remember the riots that ensued when the killer of gay supervisor, Harvey Milk, killer received a light sentence. They saw that the gay hunger for “justice” can be no less frightening than that of a crowd of angry southern whites.
Now, only the governor of California can reverse the decision of the parole board. He has no more than ninety days to do so. If you know him, or even if you don’t, please email him this article.
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