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NewTmes what’s shakin’ Bunker Hell, Revisited


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T


he case of an infamous rapist in DeWitt is the subject of a new book by the lawyer who represented John


T. Jamelske’s last victim. According to author Charles A. Bonner, The Bracelet (Verily Publishing Company, Sausalito, Calif.; 261 pages; $9.99/softcover) is his effort to bring about a “paradigm shift” in the way society treats women and children.


“When I got this case, I thought it was an


incredible story, something that should be documented in a way to be broadcast to the world,” he said during a recent interview with The New Times. The young woman that Bonner represented


was 16 years old when freed by police on April 8, 2003. A teenage runaway, she had been abducted by Jamelske six months earlier. She was then kept in the underground bunker along Route 92 near Lyndon Corners where Jamelske had held and raped at least five other women since 1988. The case received national attention and Jamelske, now 75, was subsequently convicted of five counts of kid- napping. He was sentenced to 18 years to life and is still serving his term in an upstate New York prison. While the Jamelske case was exceptional


in several aspects, Bonner pointed out that crimes against women and children are all too common in society. Before taking the case of “Macie,” as he refers to her in his new book, Bonner had represented the victims of sexual exploitation for years. Bonner, 64, said this work fit into his professional background as a civil rights lawyer. He had been involved with the struggle for civil rights during his days as a young African-American man growing up in a small farming community outside Selma, Ala. In the course of the Jamelske case, Bonner


began investigating the scope of the whole problem of sex slave trafficking, in part because Jamelske told his victims that he was connected to a sex ring. Jamelske threatened to sell them to this ring if his victims did not cooperate. While police found that Jamelske acted alone, Bonner independently investi- gated the sex trade, visiting locales such as Brazil, Thailand and Israel in the course of his investigation. Bonner said conservative estimates put the number of children sold into sexual slavery each year at 1.5 million. “This sort of thing does happen. And more


importantly, it is happening in the United States,” said Bonner. “It’s a crime against humanity.” While the Jamelske case prompted lurid


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coverage, including a television documentary, it did not bring about any lasting change in the way that society deals with the problem of child sexual exploitation and abuse, Bonner said. “It’s a news item, not a cause. We want to take it from being a cause to a movement, and from a movement to a paradigm change,” said Bonner. To aid his cause, a portion of the proceeds from this book will go to the Brace- let Charitable Foundation Freedom Fund to empower victims of all forms of slavery.


Aug. 25 - Sept. 1, 2010 Syracuse New Times


Stranger than fiction: The attorney for one of John Jamelske’s victims has written a book based on his bunker mentality.


The primary reason why sexual abuse of


children does not get the attention it deserves, he said, is because of their low status. “Chil- dren don’t have a voice. They don’t have lobbyists. They don’t hold demonstrations,” he said. The Bracelet uses the Jamelske case as


the jumping-off point for a tale in which the victims of sexual assault band together to free other sex slaves and to bring their abus- ers to justice. The young women infiltrate international sex rings, relaying information to authorities. The global law-enforcement com- munity then coordinates a worldwide series of raids to free the captive women and children. It is fiction, but it is also indicative of what Bonner believes must happen. “The laws are not being enforced aggres-


sively,” he said. “This is a $10 billion a year business, so we have to take the profit out of it.” The Jamelske case may not have prompted


the dramatic response described in Bonner’s book, but that does not mean that its conse- quences in Syracuse have been insubstantial. Randi K. Bregman, executive director at Vera House, which serves victims of sexual abuse and domestic assault, said the impact of the Jamelske case was profound. She said that when the details of the case were unfolding, the staff dealing with cases of abuse had to ask themselves how they would respond in a situation where a victim described such gro- tesque circumstances. “We have to recognize that unusual things


do happen, and it is our responsibility to err on the side of presuming that what we are told is true, rather than untrue. We hear some strange cases, and then we remember the Jamelske case,” said Bregman. In fact, cases of sexual assault frequently appear unbelievable at one level, she noted.


“You hear these cases, of a teacher assaulting students, for example. And people will say, ‘Oh, not Mr. So-and-So. I can’t imagine that.’ But the fact is that often the perpetrators of such crimes are in positions of authority and it’s hard to imagine them doing this,” Breg- man said.


—ERIC SCHWARTZ


The Co-Op Regroups The Syracuse City Board of Zoning


Appeals rejected a request for a zoning vari- ance for 2220 E. Genesee St. sought on behalf of the Syracuse Real Food Coopera- tive—which was interested in buying the property—on Aug. 19. But administrators for the organization said they are undeterred in their efforts to find a new home for the co-op grocery, and remain hopeful that their ambitious plans for expansion will eventually move forward. “We were disappointed by the decision,”


co-op general manager Travis Hance said last week. “We thought we had made the argu- ment, but the BZA had a different perspec- tive.” A variance was sought for the property,


located in a residential zone, which would have enabled the co-op to adapt it for an ambitious expansion. The grocery has long outgrown its cramped quarters at 618 Kens- ington Road and had plans to triple in size— and dramatically increase its payroll. Residents were vocal in their concerns that


approval of the variance would essentially open the door to commercial business in their quiet neighborhood. Forty residents of Fel- lows Avenue and Allen Street signed a peti- tion asking the BZA to consider the legality of


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