Guilt can cut more than one way, and in that first man-man sexual experience, it can apply to both men, and it can creep in slowly for the initially innocent one, with both the guilt and crossing of the barrier into that first act building from innocence to not knowing how it happened but not regretting that it did. In Witness for the Prosecution, a young man has been coerced and carefully trained to testify in the trial of a sexually predatory doctor, who is misusing his profession to trap and deflower young men. But as well trained as the young man has been in helping to convict the doctor, he cannot escape his own share in the guilt—or deny that his first experience hasn’t changed his life forever. As the reader follows the step-by-step progression of the young man’s innocence across the barrier for the first time, the courtroom testimony and the young man’s inner thoughts combine to inform the reader’s understanding. The reader becomes the jury. Who is guilty . . . and of what?
“And did Dr. Martin make untoward advances to you in your gym, Mr. Philips? In the gym’s sauna?”
“I don’t understand.”
The prosecutor turned and looked at me over his glasses with his head tilted down—the “Oh really?” look. Done for the jury, I was sure. “You understand what this trial is about, don’t you, Mr. Philips? Dr. Martin stands accused of entrapment, holding his victims in captivity, and rape. You do understand that, don’t you?”
“Yes,” I answered. I knew what the prosecutor wanted. I knew what might happen if I didn’t give it to him. But it would be skating on thin ice here. I tried to tell him how it really was, but he didn’t want to hear it. He told me to keep my answers short and right to the point of the questions he asked. But already he was making it difficult for me to give him the answers he wanted and not perjure myself—and even more important to me, not reveal what I didn’t want to face.
“Then I ask you again, Mr. Philips. Did Dr. Martin make untoward advances to you in the gym sauna room?”
“Yes . . . I guess so.”