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Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 10, page 12 [newspaper clipping], 1858

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Identifier: DX03225027

Title: Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 10, page 12 [newspaper clipping], 1858

Description: Newspaper clipping regarding the trial of Francis C. Sexton for the rape of Miss C. Wood.


A PAINFUL CASE.—In the case of Francis C. Sexton, on trial at Newark for the alleged rape upon the person of a Miss [C.] Wood of New-York, A. V. Schenck; esq., on Monday, summed up for the defence. He alluded to the importance of the case to his client as involving his liberty, honor, and the peace of more than one loving heart. He then paid a tribute to the just administration of law in New-Jersey, but said, while we should do justice, we should also guard against parties from other States using it to gratify their petty spites. He then alluded to the appearance of the complainant, and that she was calculated to excite sympathy, but only by the evidence. The State must prove physical force, and want of consent.

He then reviewed the testimony to show wherein the State has failed, alleging that there was no proof of want of consent, nor of physical force, except by her statement alone. The surrounding circumstances do not indicate this, but rather the contrary; and the alleged violence was committed in a public place, where outcry could be heard. He then reviewed the testimony, showing wherein she was contradicted by other witnesses, and contending that her actions were such as to indicate that it was at most only an aggravated case of seduction.

The counsel pleaded that the prisoner was entitled to every legal doubt, and argued that the complainant was previously a theater-going character, and was not such an innocent girl as the State assumed. He closed his speech with an earnest appeal to the Jury to abide solely by the evidence, and not to be influenced by any sympathy, and give the defendant the benefit of any doubt.

Courtlandt Parker, esq., the proceeded to sum up on the part of the State. He proceeded to show the importance of the case, not only to the prisoner, but also to the public, stating that if the Jury found by the evidence that the offense had been committed, it was a duty they owed to themselves, their wives, their daughters and society, to convict the defendant. He then portrayed the course of the prisoner in seducing the complainant from home—like a serpent fixing his basilisk eyes upon a poor bird; the bird flutters and flies nearer and nearer the serpent, until at last it comes within reach of its fangs and is sacrificed.

He then proceeded to examine the evidence, showing wherein and by whom contradicted. He paid a handsome tribute to the manner in which the complainant had stood her examination. He said that he did not contend that she had acted prudently, but he did contend that she left home with a man and came to this city without an idea of wrong, relying implicitly on the prisoner as being a naval officer—one from a class of men whom she respected and loved, from which class she had received a proposal of marriage. He showed how, having entrapped her here, his honor as a naval officer was pledged and violated by the prisoner.

He contended that subsequent consent to the ravisher was not an excuse for him, but that in this case it only aggravated the wrong, as showing how he played on her feelings, still striving to induce her young and confiding heart to lean on him so that he could further gratify his passion. Mr. Parker closed by an earnest appeal to the Jury to consider well the evidence in connection with her confiding character, and stated that he could not think how they could fail to convict.

The Judge charged the Jury briefly. He stated the law in this case and reviewed the evidence. He told the Jury to weigh well the evidence, as the importance of the case demands a fair and impartial hearing for both sides.

The Jury retired at 7 o’clock p.m., and returned at about 9 p.m. with a verdict of “Guilty.”

On the reaction of the verdict the prisoner was very much. . . .

Rights: NoC-US


Dates: 1858

Type(s): Diary

Maker/Creator: Gunn, Thomas Butler, 1826-1903

Subjects: Rape


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