When Powerful Men Are Accused of Rape:
Lisa F. Jackson, director of the new HBO documentary, Sex Crimes Unit, talks about the arrest of the IMF chief, the evolution of New York's laws on rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war.
The May 15 arrest in New York City of International Monetary Fund Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn on charges of sexual assault was another, brutal reminder of how widespread such acts are and how unlimited by class or culture. Although Strauss-Kahn has yet to stand trial for the accusations, which include the attempted rape of a hotel housekeeper, the event has brought forward a stunning history of sexual misconduct, including accounts that he pressured a subordinate to have an affair and attempted to sexually assault a young journalist.
On June 20, HBO will debut Lisa F. Jackson’s documentary, Sex Crimes Unit, offering an unprecedented look at the workings of New York’s groundbreaking division of prosecutors, the first in the country to be devoted to such acts of violence. The film not only follows the current Sex Crimes team through their cases, but interviews legendary Manhattan D.A. Robert Morgenthau (who founded the Unit with then-A.D.A. Leslie Crocker Snyder) and Linda Fairstein, who led the Unit from 1976 to 2002, prosecuting such high profile cases as the “Preppy Murder” and the “Central Park Jogger.”
It took Jackson over a decade to gain access to the Sex Crimes Unit, whose work she has reason to appreciate on a deeply personal level: In 1976, while working in Washington, D.C., she was kidnapped and raped by three men; they were never apprehended. Here, Jackson, who also directed the award-winning documentary, The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo, talks about the Strauss-Kahn arrest, her new film and the sexual victimization of women around the world.
"Sex Crimes Unit has drama, suspense, terrific personalities and a great deal of heart."
— John Anderson, Variety