Susan R. Sloan. Guilt by Association
(1995) 496 pp.
December 22, 1962: Karen Kern, a pretty, confident Cornell co-ed, is
brutally raped and beaten in New York’s Central Park. She had met her attacker,
a Harvard law student named Bob, at a Christmas party and had agreed to
let him walk her home to a relative’s house. As she struggled with her
recovery, the police quickly abandoned their “investigation,” her family
assumed she must have done something to cause the attack and insisted on
calling it an “accident,” and her fiancé, upon learning the truth,
soon stopped calling her and then married someone else. As the years pass,
Karen’s life takes a dramatically different path than the one she had planned
for herself. The rapist’s life, however, goes exactly according to plan.
Robert Drayton Willmont is from an elite, old San Francisco family. He
succeeds his father as a partner in a prestigious San Francisco law firm,
wins a Congressional seat, wins a Senate seat, and becomes a front-runner
for a Presidential nomination in 1991. About this time, Karen, now married
with three stepdaughters, relocates to San Francisco and soon learns that
the man who got away with raping and nearly murdering her, is being tapped
as the man who will turn America around. After volunteering to work on
Willmont’s campaign, Karen accepts a ride home from him one evening and
is assaulted in Golden Gate Park. This time, however, she presses charges
and ends up with a jury trial. Can she really have been raped by the same
man twice, thirty years apart? Or is she executing an elaborate revenge
scheme to bring down the man who thought he was above the law?