Ms. Slutingham sues Dr. Everwood for sexual harassment, indecent exposure in a department store. She claims substantial emotional distress, and both compensatory and general damages. Although the evidence is vague on the indecent exposure charge, the case still goes to trial. Ms. Slutingham is a beautiful divorcee in her late twenties, a bit too au courant for her own good. She comes from new money. Dr. Everwood is a renowned neurologist in his late forties; a very elegant narcissist, not exactly a lawyer’s dream client. Mrs. Cohen, a famous trial lawyer known for her fierceness, is Dr. Everwood’s attorney; Mr. Kline, Ms. Slutingham’s attorney, is also a respected professional.
Ms. Projak is Ms. Slutingham’s friend, a witness for the plaintiff; Mrs. White works in the department store, a witness for the defendant. The judge is a brilliant and distinguished woman in her early fifties with radiant beauty and grace.
(A repost, one-act play in blog format for your reading pleasure)
Scene One—Mrs. White
Mrs. Cohen. Mrs. White, how long have you worked for Lacey’s?
Mrs. White. Almost twenty years.
Mrs. Cohen. (Pointing at the plaintiff) Do you recognize Ms. Slutingham over there?
Mrs. White. Yes, I do.
Mrs. Cohen. Mrs. White, when did you first, see Ms. Slutingham?
Mrs. White. Around two O’clock in the afternoon, it was Wednesday the twenty-fourth.
Mrs. Cohen. Was Ms. Slutingham alone?
Mrs. White. No, she was with a friend, the lady in the green, purple, (contemptuously) brown dress sitting behind her.
Mrs. Cohen. Ah, this is Ms. Projak, Ms. Slutingham’s friend. Did you talk to Ms. Slutingham?
Mrs. White. Yes, we had a big sale on some brand name shoes. She wanted me to help her.
Mrs. Cohen. Do you remember what she said to you?
Mrs. White. She said: “Hey! You! I want you to show me the come-fuck-me-pumps in this magazine.”
Mrs. Cohen. How long did you stay and help Ms. Slutingham?
Mrs. White. Fifteen, twenty minutes.
Mrs. Cohen. Do you remember what was Ms. Slutingham wearing?
Mrs. White. (Disgusted) Oh yeah! She had on a tiny yellow top, a very short pink skirt, and blue heels.
Mrs. Cohen. You still remember even the colors; Ms. Slutingham must have made a big impression on you?
Mrs. White. Well, she was very rude. She was practically naked and with all those colors she looked like a parrot. Even her bra and panties did not match.
Ms. Slutingham. (Screaming) Shut up bitch! I was wearing a hundred dollar “Melissa” thongs.
Judge. Order in the court, Ms. Slutingham! Be quiet!
Mrs. White. (Gloating) It’s Malizia, not “Melissa”; it’s La Perla, and they were forty bucks…tops.
Mrs. Cohen. Mrs. White! How did you see Ms. Slutingham’s underwear? Did you go into a fitting room with her?
Mrs. White. No, I didn’t need to go into any rooms; her skirt was too short, anyone could see her underwear.
Mr. Kline. Objection!
Judge. Not quite yet, Mr. Kline.
Mrs. Cohen. Mrs. White, would you describe Ms. Slutingham appearance and behavior as normal, casual, or would you describe it as obvious, promiscuous, and lewd?
Mr. Kline. Leading the witness!
Judge. Rephrase, Mrs. Cohen.
Mrs. Cohen. Mrs. White! How would you describe Ms. Slutingham’s behavior?
Mrs. White. (Charging) She was acting like a slut.
Mrs. Cohen. During that time, did you see Dr. Everwood?
Mrs. White. The first time I saw him is when she (pointing at Ms. Slutingham) called him over.
Mrs. Cohen. Ms. Slutingham called Dr. Everwood over?
Mrs. White. Yes, she did. She asked him which pair of shoes he thinks looked better.
Mrs. Cohen. And what did Dr. Everwood say?
Mrs. White. I didn’t hear, I could not wait to run and help another customer that’d been waiting on me a while.
Mrs. Cohen. Thank you Mrs. White, no further questions.
Scene Two—Dr. Everwood
Mrs. Cohen. Dr. Everwood, what were you doing at Lacey’s on the afternoon of Wednesday the twenty-fourth?
Dr. Everwood. I was buying my wife a dress and some new shoes for a special occasion.
Mrs. Cohen. This is when Ms. Slutingham called you over?
Dr. Everwood. Yes.
Mrs. Cohen. Dr. Everwood, were you sexually aroused while talking with Ms. Slutingham?
Dr. Everwood. I got a boner, yes.
Judge. Dr. Everwood, you are a physician, Sir; talk like one.
Dr. Everwood. Sorry, your honor…I had an erection.
Mrs. Cohen. Dr. Everwood, from where you stood, could Ms. Slutingham see you had an erection? How close were you to Ms. Slutingham?
Dr. Everwood. (Arrogantly) Oh yeah, she saw; four, five feet, it didn’t matter.
Mrs. Cohen. So, you deliberately had an erection, with the intent of sexually assaulting Ms. Slutingham. Is that correct, Dr. Everwood?
Dr. Everwood. (Startled) No! Of course not.
Mrs. Cohen. What was your intent, then? Why did you get an erection pretty much in Ms. Slutingham’s face?
Dr. Everwood. (Confidently) There is no intent in erection. An erection is an involuntary response. I cannot will, or command a boner—excuse me your honor—I cannot will an erection, no man can.
Mr. Kline. I must ask for Mr. Everwood’s response to be stricken from the record. Mr. Everwood is not an expert on male erection.
Judge. With all due respect, Mr. Kline, it seems to me that this is exactly why we’re here. Dr. Everwood is a certified neurologist; I’ll allow his testimony and we’ll be also happy to hear from your expert.
Mrs. Cohen. Dr. Everwood, are you saying that an erection is an involuntary act and a man is not responsible for it.
Mr. Kline. Objection! Your honor, please.
Judge. Overruled; Dr. Everwood! Please elaborate.
Dr. Everwood. Penile erection is an involuntary act. It is no coincidence that it is controlled by the involuntary or autonomic nervous system. A man has little or no voluntary control over an erection. An erection might not occur when you want it and; conversely, it may happen when you least expect it. You could get an erection looking at one woman and you could lose one looking at another. I’ll be glad to point out examples for each right here.
Judge. (Addressing a child) Thank you, Dr. Everwood, that won’t be necessary.
Mrs. Cohen. Dr. Everwood! Did you at any point touch Ms. Slutingham?
Dr. Everwood. No.
Mrs. Cohen. Dr. Everwood, did you at any point touch yourself?
Dr. Everwood. No. I may have tried to hide…put away…down, you know…tuck it away—no.
Mrs. Cohen. Dr. Everwood, did you at any point expose yourself to Ms. Slutingham.
Dr. Everwood. No.
Mrs. Cohen. I want to make this very clear to the jury. Did you at any point unzip your pants; take your penis ou[t]…
Judge. (Interrupting) We got it, Mrs. Cohen. I got it, and the jury got it.
Mrs. Cohen. Thank you Dr. Everwood, no further questions.
Scene Three—Ms. Slutingham (cross examination)
Mrs. Cohen. Good afternoon Ms. Slutingham, my name is Sarah Cohen.
Ms. Slutingham. Hi.
Mrs. Cohen. Ms. Slutingham, you heard the testimony about your attire on the day in question. It was freezing that day. It was 20 degrees and you were in a small top, a very short see-through skirt, can you explain that?
Ms. Slutingham. I do not care what anyone says. I have panties in all colors. You are just trying to make me look bad. My psychologist says that I can show my body off and still be a great mother as long as I take care of number one: me.
Mrs. Cohen. Ms. Slutingham, your maternal skills are not on trial here, my client is. I just want to understand your frame of mind the day in question. Would you describe your attire…
Judge. (Interrupting, impatiently) Move on, Mrs. Cohen.
Mrs. Cohen. Ms. Slutingham, did you intend to seduce my client.
Ms. Slutingham. (Rushing in a eureka moment) You are generalizing, Mrs. Cohen. A woman wears a short skirt, she’s automatically a slut. (Victoriously) That’s a generalization; I hear that all the time on TV, I know what you’re doing.
Mrs. Cohen. (Exchanging glances with the Judge) You got me there, Ms. Slutingham. Please, answer my question; did you intend to seduce my client?
Ms Slutingham. No, I was dressed normal and I was acting very normal. In fact, my psychologist said that I am perfectly normal, especially since I made peace with myself. I learned to like myself. I love myself.
Mrs. Cohen. Good for you, Ms. Slutingham, good for you. Now, both Mrs. White and Ms. Projak testified earlier that on the afternoon of Wednesday the twenty-fourth, at Lacey’s department store, you called Dr. Everwood over to ask him about some shoes you were trying on. Is that correct?
Ms. Slutingham. Yes.
Mrs. Cohen. Why did you pick Dr. Everwood?
Ms. Slutingham. He was wearing a gold Rolex watch and a very expensive suit.
Mrs. Cohen. It was an expensive suit indeed; he was wearing a Fioravanti. Not today, though; today, he is wearing an H. Huntsman’s.
Ms. Slutingham. So?
Mrs. Cohen. Exactly, my point, Ms Slutingham, the gold Rolex and the expensive suit made my client what, safe to ask?
Ms. Slutingham. Yes, I thought he was a winner! There are a lot of losers out there. I am an independent woman and single mother; I do not talk to poor guys. Obviously, you do not watch Dr. Phil?
Mrs. Cohen. No, Ms. Slutingham, I admit, I do not. Now, you testified earlier that you felt threatened when Dr. Everwood had an erection. When did you notice that Dr. Everwood had an erection, before or after you asked him about the shoes?
Ms. Slutingham. Oh, before. When he came over, he was staring at my boo[bs]…my body, and right there, poof, it was like…magic.
Mrs. Cohen. And yet, Ms. Slutingham, you still continued to talk to him, you still asked him about your shoes. You weren’t threatened by his erection after all, were you?
Ms. Slutingham. Well, that was before I knew he was a pervert.
Mrs. Cohen. So, what tipped you off? When did you realize that my client was a pervert?
Ms. Slutingham. When he opened his mouth, when I asked him which pair he thought fit me better, he violated me; I was violated.
Mrs. Cohen. Why, Ms Slutingham, what did Dr. Everwood do or say?
Ms. Slutingham. (Tearfully) He’s an idiot, what does he know? He is a pervert.
Mrs. Cohen. Your honor!
Judge. Ms. Slutingham! Calm down please, and answer the question.
Ms. Slutingham. He said my feet were too big for both pairs. This monster said I should not wear open toe.
Mrs. Cohen. That does not make Dr. Everwood a pervert, does it?
Ms. Slutingham. He was playing with himself. It was big…it was very scary. I was devastated.
Mrs. Cohen. What was big, Ms. Slutingham?
Ms. Slutingham. His di[ck]…his penis.
Mrs. Cohen. How did you see that? Did Dr. Everwood expose himself to you?
Ms. Slutingham. I will never forget that bulge in his pants…disgusting; it will haunt me forever.
Mrs. Cohen. Ms. Slutingham, one last question, you and Ms. Projak testified that Dr. Everwood exposed himself. Did my client expose himself to you? Remember, you are under oath. Do you understand the question?
Ms. Slutingham. Yes, and yes he did expose himself to us.
Mrs. Cohen. Ms. Slutingham! Did you actually see my client’s penis?
Ms. Slutingham. (Affirmatively) Yes I did.
Mrs. Cohen. Ms. Slutingham! What did Dr. Everwood’s penis look like?
Mr. Kline. Your honor, please!
Judge. Be more specific, Mrs. Cohen, and wrap it up.
Mrs. Cohen. Ms Slutingham, you said you saw Dr. Everwood’s penis, exposed, is that correct?
Ms. Slutingham. (Annoyed) Yes, I said yes.
Mrs. Cohen. Did it look like a normal penis to you?
Mr. Kline. Objection!
Judge. Mrs. Cohen! I will hold you in contempt.
Mrs. Cohen. (Pleadingly) I am about to establish the witness is lying, your honor. I have one follow up question, this is my whole case.
Judge. Answer the question, Ms. Slutingham!
Ms. Slutingham. (Angrily) OK! Fine! It wasn’t normal, it was huge.
Mrs. Cohen. Did you notice any distinguishing marks, like a birth mark, or anything out of the ordinary on my client’s penis?
Ms. Slutingham. (Hesitantly) I don’t remember.
Mrs. Cohen. Ms. Slutingham, you just said that Dr. Everwood’s penis was huge, was that a generalization? Did you or did you not see any distinguishing marks on my client’s penis?
Ms. Slutingham. (Defiantly) No, I did not.
Mrs. Cohen. Thank you, Ms. Slutingham, no further questions. Your honor, I would like to submit this photograph as evidence, exhibit one. May I approach, your honor. (The bailiff hands the judge a big brown envelope)
Mr. Kline. Objection, your honor, I had no prior notification.
Mrs. Cohen. Disclosure does not apply here your honor.
Judge. (Opens the envelope, looks at the photograph briefly, clears her throat) Both of you approach the Bench, now.
Judge. (Whispering) Mrs. Cohen, is this an enlarged photograph of Dr. Everwood’s penis?
Mrs. Cohen. Yes, your honor, it is life-size, though, your honor.
Judge. What is it doing in my courtroom? What? You want me to show the jury a picture of a penis? Are you out of your mind?
Mrs. Cohen. Your honor, my client’s entire future is at stake here, his reputation, career, marriage…just please, look again, notice the huge reddish-brown spot, no one can ever miss that; she’s lying, your honor!
Judge. (Looks at the photograph for a long minute and orders the attorneys back to their seats) In light of this new overwhelming evidence, case dismissed!