How could she consent when every interaction stemmed from her initial, non-consensual kidnapping?
We can’t really talk about the Hearst case without talking about issues of consent. For example, as you discuss in the book, there is an unresolved debate about whether Patricia slept with Willy Wolfe of her own free will or whether it was rape. But how could she consent when every interaction stemmed from her initial, non-consensual kidnapping? How can we say she didn’t consent to sex but did consent to violence?
I do think sex and violence are different. It’s an ugly truth of human relations that a relationship that began without consent can evolve into one that was consensual. That is what the jury believed happened between Willy Wolfe and Patricia. I think by the same token, a woman who was violently and horribly kidnapped — I know there are some conspiracy theories out there of prior knowledge which I reject completely — can become part of the group after nineteen months.
Look at her behavior. From the first bank robbery, shooting up Mount Sporting Goods, having opportunity after opportunity to leave, the next two bank robberies, the death of Myrna Opsall, the bombs set off in Northern California, her visits with Steve Soliah, the encounters with police, and so on. This was a person who had chosen to stay with the SLA. That is not inconsistent with her kidnapping. People change.
Excerpted from an interview with Jeffrey Toobin in Hazlitt.