A couple of years ago, I saw the movie Long Island Lolita: The Amy Fisher Story, starring Drew Barrymore. The treatment meted out to Fisher for largely being the victim of sexual predators all her life enraged me so much that I couldn’t forget it. I’ve done some research to see how well the events of the movie correspond with real life, and sad to say, they more or less do.
To recap: Fisher was sexually abused from early childhood by a family member, then raped by a hired hand at thirteen. She was a promiscuous teenager, and ended up having an affair, at sixteen, with thirty-five-year-old Joey Buttafuoco, who was married with two children. They continued their affair for several months, with Joey manipulating Fisher emotionally, both refusing to commit to her or let her leave him.
It’s largely believed Buttafuoco let Fisher to believe if his wife Mary Jo, who he was unhappily married to, were gone, he would be free to commit to Fisher. Fisher took this to mean if Mary Jo were dead, and took it upon herself to kill the woman.
Mary Jo survived, and Fisher was charged with her attempted murder. Buttafuoco denied all knowledge of the affair, claiming Fisher was delusional and had made it up. Mary Jo stood by her husband and his claims, although they later divorced. This could mean the marriage ran its course, collapsed under the strain of the trial, or Mary Jo knew all along that he was guilty and would rather see Fisher hang for it than have anything to do with it.
The District Attorney went to great lengths to portray Fisher as a promiscuous, manipulative young woman, by rounding up a couple of her other older, manipulative lovers and offering them immunity from statutory rape/paedophilia charges for sleeping with Fisher in exchange for their testimony about how promiscuous and manipulative she was.
And it never occurred to them that maybe Fisher was promiscuous and manipulative because she’d been taken advantage of such men all her life? Did a light bulb never go off: shit, we have to offer these men immunity because they’ve committed heinous crimes against a teenage girl”¦ maybe we should put her own actions into context of theirs? Or was the public outcry against a promiscuous, manipulative teenager attempted to kill an upstanding, Christian woman that the DA thought they had to look like they were doing something?
I don’t condone Fisher’s attempt on Mary Jo’s life, but I do understand why she felt driven to do it. She was infatuated and unstable, being taken advantage of by a man old enough to be her father. She believed, because he told her as much, that if his wife wasn’t around, he would be free to be with her. In my opinions at least, the actions of a paedophile and sexual predator are much more heinous in rational intent then the actions of a mentally unstable teenager under the influence of the paedophile and sexual predator.
Fisher went to jail for fifteen years, where she claims she was regularly raped. Buttafuoco got six months for statutory rape, getting out of charged of charges of rape, sodomy, and endangering the welfare of a minor. He has since been charged with another sex crime, and he and Mary Jo have divorced.
Does this seem just a little unfair to you? Victim of society who lashes out and commits a heinous crime, fifteen years. Main perpetrator of her victimisation, six months. Other perpetrators, off scott free. It would have been acceptable to me if Buttafuoco had gotten a similar sentence to Fisher. It would have been acceptable if Fisher’s other lovers had been given jail terms – and listed as sex offenders. In short, it would have been fair if Fisher’s jail term was relative to that of the men who were largely responsible for the state of mind that led her to shoot Mary-Jo.
What does it say about the DA’s office that they were quite happy to ignore a lifetime of abuse that made Fisher what she was, ignore her abuser’s contribution to her state of mind, in order to secure a conviction against her? That they gave immunity to men guilty of statutory rape/paedophilia in order to convict her? Apparently it was much more important to prove her guilt than anyone else’s. Apparently we live in a society where bringing to justice a victim of society is much more important then bringing to justice the predators of teenage girls. Apparently promiscuous, manipulative teenage brats are much more of a menace to society then the adult men who abuse them.
At least it seems that Fisher got the last laugh. After her release, she married, had a child, and wrote a book called If I Knew Then”¦ She’s an award-winning journalist, reported to be a happy and devoted wife and mother and a spokesperson for abused teenage girls. She has healed and moved on as much as anyone can having been given such a crappy start in life. Buttafuoco, meanwhile, is fifty, divorced and a failed actor.
Sometimes, people get exactly what they deserve.