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August 21st, 2013, 11:26[]

Olivia was on her hotel bed, peering into the infinite depths of her laptop. The room was perfect for a reclusive writer. It was not a great hotel. The floor plan was odd and the commodities a bit outdated, like the few-channel TV, but was in a nice area so she didn't mind. She brushed her blond hair out of her eyes. The 'tick tack' of her typing on the computer whittled away most of her day. It seemed to threaten eating up most of her night too. Olivia hadn't even been on Facebook or updated her Twitter in a while. She was working so hard on writing that they were forgotten.

Her back ached from being hunched over so long. She saved her work and rose to use the bathroom. After the flush, she exited and stretched. To her satisfaction, a loud 'crack' could be heard. The sink was located at the opposite wall of the bathroom entrance. It served as the 'everything sink', including coffee, water, and hand washing. Next to the sink was a mirror.

When she got to the sink she washed and looked up to rearrange any stray strands. She stopped before she could even appraise her hair, as her own face in the mirror looked... wrong. Very wrong. It scared her for a brief moment. She took a step back and blinked several times, rubbing her eyes.

Too much time on the computer, Olivia decidedly chided. She glanced to her reflection, it had returned to normal. She didn't bother with her appearance after all. The sleep deprivation had gotten to her, she guessed. Olivia instead double checked the locks on the door. They were locked. It made her feel better.

The bed offered little resistance as she sunk back into it. She closed her laptop and set it beside her on the nightstand. She turned the lamp on the table off, swallowing the room in darkness save for the slight illumination from a window near the bathroom.

Two days later 911 received an unnerving phone call from a man screaming into the receiver; "PLEASE SEND HELP TO [redacted hotel name]. OH GOD, I DIDN'T DO ANYTHING OKAY, I JUST OPENED THE DOOR. I KNEW IT WAS SKETCHY I KNEW IT WAS, I DIDN'T DO ANY OF IT, PLEASE," the man cried and blubbered until the police showed up. They took him into custody and began asking him questions as an EMS team went into the room.

The team emerged pale as ghosts, shaken. They returned and retrieved unrecognizable equipment before re-entering the scene. The cops would look upset at the man, and then sympathetic, and finally horrified as he related his tale. I wish I could have heard what he said. The man was arrested and taken into custody for further questioning. The officers looked at each other, and then at the hotel room. The EMS team was slowly emerging with the softly whimpering body of Olivia.

The area was a crime scene and stayed that way until the investigators felt they had pulled every print and every bodily fluid out of that hotel room, which was a lot. The trial began a few days later, after they had collected all the suspects. Seven adult men who all lived within a drive-able distance to [redacted hotel name] were brought to the courtroom.

The unofficial charges were atrocious; Pre-Meditated Assault, Conspiracy, Accessory to Rape, Attempted Murder. The media jumped on it and raged like wildfire, despite all attempts to keep it shushed. Headlines screeching about Olivia proposed her to be a brave survivor. But, the trial soon uncovered other details they would latch onto.

The court proceedings began. They stood up, they sat down, they swore. The DA and the Defender both presented the same facts, Olivia was definitely aggressed upon by six out of seven of these men. The only thing they dispute, is if she sent the emails asking them to do it.

Olivia wasn't able to join us until she recovered from her sustained injuries. She issued a statement on her behalf to be read in the courtroom. The trial would proceed with evidence before the jury would be able to see the main witness. Olivia's statement was the first exhibit; outlining the night of the 21st up until she went to bed. She goes on to say that she "...didn't {remember} much after that, except the occasional memory of a hand here or a touch there. She remembered being afraid, hurting, and knows that she did not ask for this."

The jury was sympathetic, a rather even mix of genders and walks of life all seemed to be equally disgusted and touched. The courtroom was somber, no... worse than that. The sorrow hung like a knife, pierced only by harrowing glares from the several female jurors aimed at the seven lowly defendants. The defending men looked worse than guilty, responsible even. It made it easy to hate them.

The next exhibit was worse to see than hearing the words of the victim herself, photos. There were bruises, gashes, knotted hair, indiscernible fluids, a blindfold, rope burns, and other cruel inflictions of suffering. The jury's exhalation and sharp inhale was audible, I think a woman may have even swooned at one point. The prosecution went as far as to give a narrative, though I'm convinced it was aimed at the defendants more than it was us.

"Olivia [redacted] was not one to lure men to her room, she was a girl of other interests. She assuredly wasn't a girl of this," the photo slideshow reveals more gruesome imagery of distaste. The photographer really caught the oozing just right in the dim motel lighting. "She stated that she did not elicit this. I do not believe she was the one who accessed her computer or cellphone past the time she indicated falling asleep. It had to have been someone outside of the room."

A transcript was then laid before our collective eyes, a timeline of decrypted behavior based upon the information that was gleaned from her computer and cellphone. Both were reportedly recovered from her room as though they had never moved. 

August 21st, 2013, 12:58[]

Googled 'actually good shows' on cell phone, clicks on a few suggested links.
Began and watched [redacted] Netflix series on cell phone.
Headphones were used, at medium volume.
Proved to inititate 'yes' option each time prompted 'Are you still watching?'
Opened Email client on computer.
Opened Craigslist.com, proceeds to sign up with Olivia's own info - arguable that the web browser auto-populated this information

Posts the following ad in personals:

"Non-Con Party"

"Don't play if you can't handle it!

The only rule is: don't untie, ungag, unbind, etc in any way or it is REAL i run for help

you have my explicit permission to do ~anything~ as long as you don't break the rule and ruin my fun!

Can't wait to see you."

There were 11 responses over the next few hours, but only 7 showed enough interest to gain the address and hotel number. These were done via Olivia's personal email. Each man received the same reply, no matter his message. The emails are as follows:

"Hey there, thanks for replying to my post! I appreciate someone willing to indulge my darkest desires :]" 

"Just so you know, I'll be totally in character until after you leave. So, please just leave after we're finished. I am really excited! Thurs, XX:00 [redacted address]"  

The time appeared to be adjusted in each email so that these men would not run into each other. The communications between 'Olivia' and these men went until 5am. At this point the Netflix was turned off, the email client exited, and the laptop closed. 'Olivia' is then assumed to go to bed.

And just like that, these men had entered into something much darker than desires. 

One wound up telling us that he had shown up at noon like the email asked, checked with the attendant for the room, and then headed in. Found what he was expecting, a kinky craigslist bitch roped up and blindfolded. He gave her what she was posting about and left, buying some cigarettes at the gas station on his way out. Those witnesses were interviewed and the alibi stands, he was only there for 40 minutes. 

Two says she showed up and she was roped, blindfolded, and 'clearly used' at 1:00. He expressed disdain for not assuming there would be more than one person involved in this. He admitted he had responded to posts like this before, but none of them had ever been like 'this.' He says he also interacted with her, and thought her cries were 'very authentic' but continued nonetheless. He says he did not harm her, but fingerprints corresponding with severe bruising say otherwise. He did not interact with anyone nor stop on his way home.

Three states that when he showed up at 3:00 there were small cuts on Olivia, along her arms, and around her 'gentle regions' especially. As if someone had used something bladed to torment her, or perhaps long nails. She was in the same place as the last two encounters. The other details he brought up seemed to be abrasion from the ropes, bruising, and a rather nasty amount of juice. He said he was willing to respond to the ad because this way he 'didn't have to convince her.' The air in the room seemed heavy and he felt like something was watching him. He stated that he 'wasn't interested anymore' and left. He mentions that he was disturbed by the scene but did not want to report it on account of his failing marriage - which failed entirely after the police showed up.

Four was a mess, he kept shouting. Guilt turned to fire, I suppose. The judge finally warned him the last time and he kept it together enough to spit at the jury that she 'brought it upon herself.' And 'did they even see the email', kept demanding 'why am I even here, then!?' I thought they'd hold him in contempt, but he managed to get out that he saw her with the 'things shoved in' and that he 'took them out for her' so he's not totally an asshole.' I'm sure he was trying hard to be convincing but it was painfully obvious that he was, in fact, an asshole. He stated that she was groaning and that she 'seemed really hysterical' as she was screaming behind the muffling cloth. He said that he didn't want to touch her because she was 'dirty' so he used a condom. He mentioned there were scrapes on her knees.

Five says he didn't go, although his replies to the emails were quite... enthusiastic. It was revealed that his DNA was found on scene, and thus he was immediately exposed as a liar. He refused to answer questions after that.

Six had recently gotten into BDSM porn and thought this 'might be fun' and it'd be cool since 'she had asked for it.' He arrived at 6:00 but realized something was very wrong when the door opened and he saw the faintest blood smear on the edge. He nudged the door further and found barely breathing Olivia tied to the posts. He declined to provide any details about the state he found Olivia, saying 'the photos speak for themselves' and 'how did those splinters even get there' before looking away and growing quiet.

Seven had never gone at all but had admitted he 'genuinely planned to' at 7:15. He received a phone call from police after they had confiscated Olivia's laptop and was taken in for questioning. 

The defense tried to propose that the men were simply 'doing as they felt they had been asked.' That isn't a reason to condemn them to this level of inhumanity, they were responding to who they felt shared an interest in this type of intimacy. The jury seethed and scoffed, upset at the very thought. The defense moved that Olivia was, instead, a suffering schizophrenic. The mental illness often sprang up in young adults and would account for much of her behavior. It was not well received, but the court seemed to ponder the possibility. It was argued that Olivia had no history or continuation of these symptoms and they would await a medical evaluation in order to prove this as fact. An officer had gone to the hotel room after the crews had left because 'he felt like he had missed something.' He noted that nothing seemed to be out of place, but found it odd they would place a window over the sink. Upon checking the window, he found a set of unidentifiable prints.

A representative of the lab reports offered some information, saying the fingerprints and DNA collected at the scene match up with most of the stories, except for Seven, Three, and Five. There were discrepancies though, as there were a lot of partial prints, too smudged to identify. Olivia's fingerprints were found on the 'ropes binding her feet.' Leaving us to wonder at what point was she able to reach those ropes in her captivity. The jury found this odd as she was found still affixed to all four bedposts and no one mentioned 'breaking a rule.' Things didn't add up. Times were off. Something was wrong.

No one came to a verdict during our attempt to 'argue finally' about how this all came about, so we just decided not to until we had heard Olivia's testimony. The men of the group admired her tenacity and said many awful things about the defendants. One went on about 'if this had happened to my daughter' rattled by it all. Another lamented that it did happen to someone's daughter, that took the rage out of him pretty quick. One of the female jurors was upset during the chatter. She was going on about how it "wasn't fair" and how she "didn't understand" the horror and futility of it all.

"Why would they do this, why would anyone do this?" she kept trying to figure out. It seemed as if she would keep going on circles when another of the jurors leaned over and matter-of-factly whispered.

"Maybe there was no reason, maybe they just did it because they could. Like that old saying, see an opportunity and take it! Sometimes people are simply the victim of opportunity, if you will." That either settled or chilled her to silence.

Most of the female jurors were furious too, they fumed and swore, they said that no one had better pardon anyone. Most made comments about the bravery of Olivia, and how they wished her the best. Even if the defendants were innocent in any semblance of the word, I was sure they would each pay for being involved. The jury was rabid.

Later that day, after much expositioning over graphic detail, we left the courthouse. But, I shouldn't even be saying this. I'm on the Jury. 'Gee that's lucky', you'd think, 'happening to wind up on it'... Except it's really not, it's simply hard work.

I had combed the neighborhood until I found one of the official county summons. A mailbox outside the home of a darling brunette, sweet little Ms. Gibson didn't need to see something like this... I do.

Olivia came into the trial the next day, she looked awful. The swelling over her eye was better than in the photos, but more purple. Her lacerations seemed to have glued themselves together enough to be scabbing scar tissue instead of carvings.

The ceremony began, and she seemed mostly stoic as she stared at the defendants. Preparing to see them for 'the first time' proved to be more than an endeavor than she considered. She was clearly shaken up by their mere presence. They would not make eye contact with her. She continued to stare. Olivia was finally called to the stand, thus breaking her obsessive glare. She rose and limped forward to assume the stand, she took a breath and began her account.

Olivia was finishing up the portion about double-checking the locks on the door. The question 'did you check the window locks' almost finished escaping the lips of the prosecutor before she looked over at the jury and became inconsolably hysterical. Screaming, no shrieking, "THAT WAS MY FACE, SHE HAS MY FACE, SHE TOOK IT, SOMEONE STOP HER THAT IS MY FACE IT IS HAUNTING ME, MAKE HER STOP, THAT IS MY FACE, GIVE IT BACK" and so on, pointing in the juror's direction, mouth gaping, color draining from her (actual) face as she shook and trembled in what seemed to be a, very exciting, psychotic episode.

The heads in our stand swiveled back and forth, confused. Some looked back at the wall. Just in case there was a demon behind them or some equally monstrous face-stealing being. A couple of unnerved men laughed quietly at the absurdity of the sudden outbursts. Olivia continued to scream, devolving into expletives at the beast -no doubt already on edge from the looming gazes of her previous aggressors. She seemed to be enraged at this perceived threat and she really wanted her face back.

Some of the jurors were insulted by the pelting and responded with equal fervor. I was uncomfortable, to say the least, to be in the thick of it and pushed a stray lock of brown hair behind my ear. It was soft and silky, I love how hair feels after being dyed. The judge attempted to calm Olivia in order to make sense of it all but failed. Contrary to the TV shows, there was no gavel banging. They wound up forcibly removing her from the stand and placing her back in the hospital, in a different ward this time. The trial was suspended for the rest of the day, and we would resume session tomorrow.

Today, before I left town, I had a good laugh watching the police knock on the door of Ms. Gibson. They seemed really concerned when she furrowed her brow and shook her head no.

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