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Visibly Shaken

Did you have a tough Valentine’s Day? Consider yourself lucky. Tracy McIntosh ’75 and his family had it worse.

Former Neurosurgery professor Tracy McIntosh was sentenced to 3 1/2 to seven years in prison yesterday for the 2002 sexual assault of his college roommate’s niece.

Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Pamela Pryor Dembe delivered McIntosh’s court-ordered new punishment, after his original sentence of 11 1/2 to 23 months of house arrest was vacated by the state Superior and Supreme courts.

Dembe admitted to struggling with the decision.

“Mr. McIntosh is not a monster; no one is,” she said. “I have wrestled with this decision.”

But Dembe was ultimately unswayed by McIntosh’s plea for a lenient sentence as a reward for having been a model citizen before the assault and having complied with all court provisions since 2002. McIntosh, 54, pleaded no-contest to the assault in December 2004.

McIntosh’s wife appeared visibly shaken as her husband was led out of the courtroom yesterday.

Whose heart is so hardened that it does not go out to Mrs. McIntosh, mother of two daughters and steadfast wife to a troubled man?

The relevance of McIntosh’s behavior to EphBlog, besides being a sad commentary of the human condition, All Things Eph division, is that it highlights the danger of men in positions of authority seeking sex from women over whom they hold some measure of power. See our previous coverage of this sad case. No one but McIntosh and his victim can know what happened that night. But perhaps we can all agree that a married man should not, when asked by his college roommate to give a women two decades his junior a tour of campus, seek to get her drunk and sleep with her.

How does this lesson apply to Williams? JAs should not date first years, especially not first years in their entries. There is already a norm against this practice. That norm should be strengthened. How? Just ask JA applicants if they would ever, under any circumstances, date a first year. Recognizing the politically correct answer when being interviewed by members of the JA Selection Committee, they will reply “No.”

Consider the (typical) case of male JA and female first year. If a JA does become romantically involved with a first year, remove him. No smirch will be placed in his permanent record. He and his first year friend can continue on with their relationship. But this JA leaves the entry and is replaced by someone on the waiting list. Williams turns down dozens of amazing JA applicants each year. No one is irreplaceable.

The problem is not so much that their relationship will be an unhealthy one. Some will, some won’t. Nor is the problem that such a JA is abusing his position of authority, just as McIntosh abused his. The problem with McIntosh started well before the rape. The problem started when he sought a sexual relationship with someone who had been put in contact with him because of his position of authority. If McIntosh were just cruising the party scene, that would be one thing. There is nothing wrong with juniors seeking/dating first years. But the typical JA/freshman romance would not have happened if the JA were just a regular junior, just as McIntosh would not have been in contact with this women were he not a professor at her future school.

But even if a JA is dating an emotionally mature first year, someone he would have met anyway because they were on the same team or in the same classes, there is still a problem. By dating this woman, he degrades his relationship with the (other) women in his entry. If he dates first years, why doesn’t he date them? Why doesn’t he ask them out? Is he about to ask them out? If I go to him with a personal question, will he use our relationship as an excuse to hit on me?

A JA who does not date first years is much more likely to be a constructive and healthy force in the lives of his first years than a JA who does date them. So, let’s get rid of the latter.

For background, see the debate we had three years ago on this topic. Thinks that this isn’t a problem? Consider this discussion. Two participants (David R and Loweeel) are discussing a JA who dated two first years, both from his own entry. We all assumed that they were talking about the same person. How many miscreants could there be in the JA ranks? Turns out they weren’t.

Isn’t there something wrong with a system with allows/encourages a JA to date multiple first years?

More McIntosh news coverage below.


Article 1:

Former Neurosurgery professor Tracy McIntosh was sentenced to 3 1/2 to seven years in prison yesterday for the 2002 sexual assault of his college roommate’s niece.

Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Pamela Pryor Dembe delivered McIntosh’s court-ordered new punishment, after his original sentence of 11 1/2 to 23 months of house arrest was vacated by the state Superior and Supreme courts.

Dembe admitted to struggling with the decision.

“Mr. McIntosh is not a monster; no one is,” she said. “I have wrestled with this decision.”

But Dembe was ultimately unswayed by McIntosh’s plea for a lenient sentence as a reward for having been a model citizen before the assault and having complied with all court provisions since 2002. McIntosh, 54, pleaded no-contest to the assault in December 2004.

McIntosh’s wife appeared visibly shaken as her husband was led out of the courtroom yesterday.

Defense attorney Joel Trigiani said he plans to appeal the sentence.

“When we have cases like this that are close calls, that’s what appellate courts are for,” he said.

Sentencing proceedings were delayed yesterday after Trigiani asked to withdraw McIntosh’s no-contest plea, a request Dembe denied.

“It’s like any major decision in life. Once you’ve made it, there are second thoughts,” Dembe said. “But after two go-arounds it’s too late to withdraw the plea.”

The victim, who was a 23-year-old woman about to enter Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine at the time of the assault, testified at the sentencing.

Asked to describe the night by Assistant District Attorney Richard DeSipio, she said McIntosh “had taken me to several bars” before returning to his office at Penn in Hayden Hall.

“I absolutely remember him putting his penis inside of me” after she had vomited from the alcohol, the victim said. She added that she then took a cab home, showered and went to sleep.

“My first reaction [when I woke up] was, ‘I was just raped,'” she said, clearly upset. “No prestige from his papers or brain surgeries erases it.”

The victim’s uncle – McIntosh’s college roommate – also spoke yesterday and testified that, after the assault, he talked to mutual friends who said McIntosh “was very aggressive with women.”

“This was not a mistake,” the victim said of the rape. “This was a plotted, calculated, manipulated act.”

The defense called a number of witnesses to testify on McIntosh’s behalf.

McIntosh “has learned so profoundly,” said his wife’s best friend, Diane Anderson. “I believe that this continuing [legal] process has prevented him from doing the kinds of atonement” that he needs and wants to do.

Despite the defense’s attempt to discuss McIntosh’s character and rehabilitation efforts, the victim said she only wanted to address the facts of the case.

“I am here to talk with Her Honor about what happened that night and get out of here,” she said in an exchange with Trigiani about whether people can change.

The victim described McIntosh as “incredibly sick” and said she would not have endured the long legal ordeal had the rape not happened.

McIntosh was originally sentenced to house arrest and fines and restitution to the victim in March 2005. Following large public outcry, the prosecution appealed the decision on the grounds that it was too lenient. Appeals courts concurred and sent the case back to the lower court.

State sentencing guidelines call for three-to-six years in prison for McIntosh’s offense.

The defense alleges that the original sentence, handed down by Common Pleas Judge Rayford Means – who recused himself from the case last September – was the result of a backroom deal between Means and attorneys on both sides.

That deal, the defense claims, stated that McIntosh would not go to prison in exchange for his no-contest plea.

Means has never publicly stated the reasoning behind his original sentence.

The victim reached confidential settlements in civil suits against both McIntosh and Penn in January 2007.

Article 2:

IT’S BEEN a long, tortured wait.

But today’s the day Tracy McIntosh may finally get what he deserves.

The former Penn professor and renowned brain researcher, who pleaded no contest three years ago to sexually assaulting a young woman, will be resentenced today to correct the travesty of a sentence he received the first time around.

Presumably, he’ll go to prison.

But even creeps like McIntosh are entitled to be treated fairly by the criminal-justice system.

And that hasn’t been the fact here.

This case has been a shameful episode that damaged the court’s credibility and did a disservice not only to McIntosh, but to his victim and to everyone else who believes in the honor of the legal system.

I abhor what McIntosh did and am appalled when the status of sexual predators invites special treatment.

I still think the original sentence of house arrest and probation was an atrocity.

But if McIntosh pleaded no contest in a backroom deal that guaranteed he’d avoid prison – as his attorneys claim – then the deal should have been honored.

The fact that the truth of that alleged agreement may never be known is an injustice all by itself.

And frankly, the mishandling of this case tempers the satisfaction of seeing it finally resolved today.

McIntosh met with the victim, an incoming Penn vet-school student, at the suggestion of her uncle, McIntosh’s college roommate. After a night of drinking, he allegedly forced her to have sex in his campus office.

He pleaded no contest to charges of sexual assault and possession of marijuana in connection with the 2002 incident.

Three years ago, Judge Rayford Means imposed the sentence of house arrest that set off a chorus of outrage.

The D.A. appealed. When the case was remanded for resentencing by the state Supreme Court, things took a wild turn.

McIntosh’s defense attorneys claimed that the sentence arose from a deal struck in Means’ chambers at the request of the assistant D.A. then on the case.

The deal, they said, was a plea for no prison time.

It was never put on the record, defense attorneys claimed, because Gina Smith, the assistant D.A., felt compelled to argue for prison at the sentencing hearing to appease public sentiment. She did that vociferously.

In an exclusive interview, Smith told me no deal was made.

Other officials in the D.A.’s office also said no deal was made.

And that means the only person who could verify that a private agreement was reached was, of course, Judge Means.

But despite tantalizing remarks that suggested a deal had been struck – “I know in my heart of hearts what the parties bargained for,” he said – Means wouldn’t confirm or deny it and recused himself from the case.

Judge Pamela Dembe refused to compel his testimony, saying the record clearly indicated no formal bargain had been reached.

Today, McIntosh will be resentenced by Dembe.

I’m told that off-the-record deals are not uncommon and rarely, if ever, backfire the way this one did.

They may be practical – they help cases get resolved and provide cover to the participants – but they distort the truth and leave everyone vulnerable.

“I don’t think it’s fair to the victim and/or the defendant to rely on things outside the record,” said assistant D.A. Rich DeSipio, who’s now handling the McIntosh case.

The fact is Judge Means could have rejected the proposed deal to begin with, if he thought it inappropriate.

Or he could have demanded that the agreement go on the record.

Since he didn’t, I think it’s his obligation to come clean about this case. Dembe should have compelled him to testify.

And if there was, indeed, a deal, no matter how sickening and outrageous, it should have been honored.

Because even creeps like Tracy McIntosh deserve to be treated fairly by the criminal-justice system.

Indeed.

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#1 Comment By ’10 On February 19, 2008 @ 11:58 am

a) JAs should not date or be at all romantically/sexually involved with their own frosh, for obvious reasons. That said, the rest of your arguments are incredibly stupid.

b) JAs are not in a position of authority over most frosh; they barely have any authority over their own entry. As a frosh, I met juniors in various contexts who I later found out were JAs, but that information didn’t affect our interactions in the slightest. You’re significantly overestimating the prestige/power of the JA position; it’s really only meaningful within their own entry.

c1) You can’t replace a JA halfway through the year; the relationship built up with the entry is too strong. I assume you love your wife, but there are surely other “qualified” women who you could have been happy with, and had you gone to a different school you might have met one of them and built up a completely different life. That doesn’t mean you could just discard your current wife and replace her with another one of those other “qualified” women; the relationship you’ve built up is far more important at this point than any original qualifications she might have had.
c2) Besides, most rejected JA candidates have long since come to terms with their non-JA-hood and made other plans for their junior year – going abroad, living with other friends, etc. No one is going to give those up in order to work with a co-JA that they did not choose in an entry that has already bonded without them and may even actively resent them.

d) “If he dates first years, why doesn’t he date them?” – what the hell kind of question is that? The same question could be asked for any category – “if he dates blonde people, why doesn’t he date me?” – “if he dates Californians, why doesn’t he date me?” – to make any relationship whatsoever seem unacceptable. There is no reason why a relationship between a 20-year-old and a 19-year-old (or even a 21 and 18 year old) should be considered somehow exceptional or perverted to the point that it defines you as the sort of person who “dates first years” rather than just people you happen to be attracted to.

e) As far as degrading the relationship with female frosh, I’d be much more worried about my JA hitting on me if he were not in a committed relationship.

#2 Comment By Rory On February 19, 2008 @ 12:10 pm

i can’t believe how unbelievably dense you are david. I really can’t. How did the first thread you posted not make you think “hmm…perhaps McIntosh, a legitimate sexual deviant, is not the proper context for a discussion of consensual, committed relationships between an 18 year old and a 20 year old.”

The framing alone makes anything you say about JA dating patterns absurd because the entire discussion is presented in an absurd manner. wow.

in the words of Michael Boltn and Samir Nagheenanajar from Office Space:
“Michael Bolton: That’s the worst idea I’ve ever heard in my life, Tom[David].
Samir: Yes, this is horrible, this idea. “

#3 Comment By Larry George On February 19, 2008 @ 12:34 pm

A bad situation, all around. If you look at the pictures, he has aged tremendously. I’d imagine his wife, his college roommate, and the victim and her parents have, too.

I’m not clear about how a court can vacate a sentence and resentence like this. The whole possibility that Dr. McIntosh is being sentenced to jail on the basis of a plea he made in exchange for not going to jail is very upsetting. I’m not a big fan of plea bargaining but it is an established part of our justice system, and mucking about with it in individual cases is not the place to try to change or reform it. It sounds as though politics entered into the new sentencing phase in a big way. If so, whatever Dr. McIntosh did and whatever he deserves, there is now another victim: the justice system.

If he appeals, I wish him luck in getting the original sentence reinstated, for the good of the justice system.

And I am very sad for all the Eph families caught up in this mess.

#4 Comment By Larry George On February 19, 2008 @ 1:03 pm

I have read the other postings about Dr. McIntosh. The association of his case with JAs’ situations at Williams is so bizarre that I’d like to stress several points.

Dr. McIntosh was a JA at Williams. Some readers, hearing that, will assume from the path today’s post takes (especially, “JAs should not date first years, especially not first years in their entries…[I have omitted considerable material from the original here] The problem with McIntosh started well before the rape. The problem started when he sought a sexual relationship with someone who had been put in contact with him because of his position of authority…”) that Dr. McIntosh must have gotten into trouble or compromised himself as a JA. I have found no evidence of that. If he was involved with a first-year female while he was a JA, she could not have been in his entry, given that all entries were single-sex in 1973-1974. I also have found no evidence that Dr. McIntosh took advantage of any woman while he was a Williams student.

P.S. ’10, your comments mirror my understanding of the JA situation.

#5 Comment By Jeff Z. On February 19, 2008 @ 1:14 pm

Rory and ’10, amen. Of the many inane things David has said on this blog (someone should really compile a greatest hits list) this line, from his previous “coverage” of McIntosh, may be the most patently absurd:

“I don’t have much new to add except that, if you are a JA romantically involved with a first year, then you are, morally, little better than McIntosh.”

#6 Comment By Larry George On February 19, 2008 @ 2:04 pm

Jeff Z., although I’m a relatively new reader, I’d have to say “Amen” to that. I hadn’t caught just how ridiculous the sentence was until you highlighted it. A doozy.

#7 Comment By ’11 On February 19, 2008 @ 7:56 pm

What about female JAs and male first years? The same holds for both sexes…

#8 Comment By A Concerned Junior On February 21, 2008 @ 2:34 pm

A few things,

they do ask JAs during the app process if they’ll date, and I feel safe in assuming that those who say “yes,” aren’t placed on a waiting list or given an entry…

and yes, JAs are replaceable. While it seems horrible, I can guarantee it is less horrible than JA/frosh romance and eventual break up. My entry wanted to kill ourselves. Really.

#9 Comment By frank uible On February 21, 2008 @ 6:18 pm

This is all too touchy-feely. Both JAs and first years have reached the age of consent – let the chips fall as they may.