Doctors Say Woman With 46 Personalities Vulnerable to Exploitation
OSHKOSH, Wis. (AP) _ Friends and doctors said Friday they were worried that tabloid television and international exposure surrounding the sexual assault of a young woman with 46 personalities will lead to exploitation of the victim.
″My concern is she may very well be exploited by everybody as she has been before,″ said Dr. Inam Haque, a psychiatrist at Winnebago County Mental Health Clinic who has treated the woman since 1986.
The 27-year-old woman, whose name has been withheld by the media to protect her identity as a rape victim, told the Oshkosh Northwestern she was elated by Thursday’s verdict.
″We did it,″ she said. ″Anybody like us, myself and the insiders (her other personalities) will be able to get protection now.″
A Winnebago County jury on Thursday convicted Mark A. Peterson, 29, of Oshkosh of second-degree sexual assault. He faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced next month.
The jury found the unemployed grocery store bagger, who is married, knew the woman was mentally ill and manipulated one of her personalities - a naive 20-year-old woman who didn’t know what intercourse was - to have sex with him two days after he met her.
Wisconsin law forbids sexual contact with mentally ill people who can’t understand the consequences of their actions.
The victim said her real self only learned of the June 11 assault because a 6-year-old personality was ″peeking.″
Peterson maintained after the verdict he did not know the woman was mentally ill and was the victim of an overzealous prosecutor. He promised to appeal.
The woman’s testimony, which often involved her closing her eyes and bowing her head as she switched personalities, dramatized a rare psychiatric diagnosis called multiple personality disorder.
Ruth Reeves, a neighbor and friend, said the woman would retain a lawyer to help her handle the publicity and requests for interviews. ″It appears that everybody wants a piece of the action,″ she said.
The television show ″Inside Edition″ announced Friday it plans to air an interview with the woman next week, showing footage of the woman switching personalities.
Inside Edition reporter Janet Tamaro said the show decided to use the interview after consulting with the woman, her mother, Mrs. Reeves and counselors about the consequences of revealing her identity.
″We were willing to do it any way all of them were willing to do it - any way they wanted,″ Ms. Tamaro said. ″We really left it up to them to decide.″
District Attorney Joe Paulus, who prosecuted the case, said he worries the woman may be exploited. He said he had nothing to do with arranging her interviews with tabloid televisions shows.
″She still functions in the community. She is capable of making everyday decisions on her own. She has got to make her own decisions in life,″ he said.
The illness often results from childhood abuse that forces the sufferer to create multiple personalities to avoid confronting reality, experts say.
In an interview with the Appleton Post-Crescent, the woman said she held no grudges against people who doubt her mental illness. At one point this year, she estimated she had 86 personalities, but many have merged together, she said.
The woman, born in South Korea, said she believes her father was an American, probably a GI. She was taken to an orphanage shortly after birth.
″I had no maternal or paternal care of any kind,″ she told the paper. ″I was not touched or picked up, except to be changed or fed. I was a very angry, lonely, sad baby.″
After eight months, she was adopted by parents who picked her out of a catalog, she said. Her adoptive father physically abused her, she said. He was ill ″and couldn’t help it.″
The woman said the multiple personalities began when she was still an orphan in South Korea.