A New Car


This is one of the sadder stories you're likely to hear: a 500-pound woman whose caretakers have been charged with "willful abuse, neglect and exploitation of an adult" because they stopped feeding and caring for her. Worse, her caretakers were her husband and daughter. Even worse than that, her husband and daughter have been charged with incest for allegedly having sex with each other.

I did not know that incest is a Class C felony in Tennessee. (For a moment, I thought that Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn could be arrested if they moved to Nashville, but soon realized that wasn't true). According to the article linked above:

If you're wondering what classifies incest, Tennessee state law says step-parents and even adopted parents can be charged with incest, even though they are not blood relatives.
I relayed this story over dinner to some people who were surprised that both father and daughter had been charged.

"Is the daughter an adult?" J. asked.
"I'm not sure. Does that make a difference?" I replied.
"Well, I don't know."
"If it's between consenting adults, then it's a victimless crime," K. chimed in.

And so the conversation twisted into strange territory. The question remains: At what point does the daughter become a criminal? Say the incest began when she was a minor and continued into her adulthood? Is there a distinction made between coerced and "statutory" incest? Perhaps someone more familiar with the law can shed some light on this.

Finally, in a strange synergy, the blog at Talk Radio 102.3 in Chattanooga not only talks about the same old game shows mentioned in the previous post here, but manages to work this tragedy into the mix (pasted here unedited):

Do you remember the prizes on the '60s and '70s-era game shows? I have embedded in my brain Johnny Olson's voice shouting..."A NEW CAR!!!" and people jumping up and down and the audience going crazy.

What I failed to internalize was that the new car often was a "Chevrolet Vega." We were such a simple people back then. We never considered things like an 800-pound woman who can't fit through the door of her house and, thus, can't get outside, who's husband and stepdaughter are having sex with each other while they're taking care of her.

I suppose that should read "neglecting to take care of her." Such simple people indeed.

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