Erik Menendez Was Warned to Keep Mum About Molestation, Doctor Says
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Erik Menendez told his psychiatrist that a relative warned him not to disclose details of sex abuse by his father ″no matter what, under no circumstances,″ the therapist said Thursday.
Dr. William Vicary testified that Erik believed ″he would ruin whatever was left of the family name″ if he went public with the abuse.
″He thought everyone in the world would think he was a homosexual, his girlfriend would leave him and for the rest of his life people would look at him like the Elephant Man,″ Vicary said.
Erik, 23, and his brother, Lyle, 25, are on trial for murder in the 1989 shotgun slayings of their parents, Lyle and Kitty Menendez, in their Beverly Hills mansion.
The brothers admit killing their parents but plead self defense, contending years of sexual and psychological abuse triggered fear their parents would kill them.
Prosecutors said they killed out of greed and hatred and made up the molestation story to excuse their behavior.
Vicary gave his opinions under a barrage of objections from Deputy District Attorney Pamela Bozanich, who argued the comments were irrelevant. The judge overruled most of her objections.
Bozanich suggested that Vicary was biased for the defense, that his perception of Erik as ″a basket case″ after his arrest was due to the stress of his imprisonment and that the defendant lied about being molested.
Actually, said Vicary, jail wasn’t a problem for Erik.
″I was quite shocked to find he liked it in jail. He found for the first time in his life there was no pressure on him. For the first time in his life, he wasn’t afraid someone was going to beat him up or rape him,″ he said. ″He didn’t have to be perfect or number one.″
Vicary acknowledged he is sometimes perceived as biased toward defendants because, ″I’m one of the few doctors who (understands) child abuse and those who wind up in prison or juvenile hall because of it.″
″Have you found that someone on trial for their life might have a motive to lie or fabricate?″ asked Bozanich.
″Of course,″ said the witness.
But under questioning by Erik’s lawyer, Leslie Abramson, he said Erik was not a prisoner pretending to be crazy.
″There are a lot of game players at the jail who want to be diverted into the mental health program,″ he said, and in 15 years as a forensic psychiatrist he has learned to spot them. He said he even teaches a medical school course in ″malingering″ or lying by patients.
Vicary, the last defense expert to testify before the expected close of evidence on Friday, described Erik as nearly psychotic when he met him, a beaten young man without self-esteem, struggling with remorse and blaming himself for his abuse. He said Erik had serious problems because he couldn’t feel hate or anger.
″He was such a passive, wimpy, hopeless mess,″ Vicary said.
Abramson stressed the contrast between Vicary’s portrait of Erik and what jurors saw in court when he testified for 10 days in his own defense. Except for a few tearful moments, he was calm and collected on the stand.
″He’s dramatically better,″ Vicary acknowledged, crediting months of therapy and anti-anxiety drugs.