Friday, May 27, 2011

Amanda Knox: Traveler’s Advisory

By Mark Waterbury with attorney Anne Bremner
(originally posted here:

Note: As this article is going to press, two important developments in the appeal of Amanda Knox’s wrongful conviction in Perugia, Italy, have just taken place. A group of Italian legislators led by Rocco Girlanda has filed a petition with the President of Italy and the Italian justice ministry requesting an investigation of the conduct of the Perugian prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini and others in Amanda’s trial. This important request for an investigation was read out loud before the Italian parliament.  

The second development involves a letter to the President of the United States and copied to all members of congress that also requests an investigation, this time of the failure of the U.S. consular officials to fulfill their obligations to safeguard the rights of Amanda Knox under Italian law. We are co-signers of that letter, along with Michael Heavey and Thomas Wright. Details regarding these letters are being released through other outlets. The following article is intended to provide additional information in a less formal format.
Americans traveling abroad are subject to the laws of the nations they visit. The rights that, at least in theory, U.S. citizens enjoy here at home do not apply. This poses problems of understanding due to language barriers and legal differences even when the visited country has a sophisticated criminal justice system. Matters can be far more difficult in places like Iran or North Korea, where politics, religious zealotry, and corruption far outweigh any balance beam of justice. Yet, at least in those extreme cases you know where you stand – on quicksand, but with the hope that the State Department will apply pressure on the local dictator to secure your eventual release if you are wrongly imprisoned. 

As we’ve watched the unbelievable investigation, bizarre prosecution, and wrongful conviction of Amanda Knox in Perugia, Italy, we have seen a situation that is more complex and nuanced, resulting in a kind of legal limbo. The problem is that while Italy is an advanced western nation, a critical ally on many global issues, it is saddled with a justice system that looks good on paper but that is, at least in Perugia, a work in progress.

The presumption of innocence, for example, is enshrined in the Italian constitution. Knowledgeable observers say, however, “they don’t get it,” relegating this fundamental principle to an abstract irrelevance. The idea that guilt is something that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, rather than conjectured as a possibility, is another newfangled thing that does not seem to have taken hold.   

Then there is the corruption and the lurid media environment.

From The Economist, June 10, 2010:

“…Italy is not like other countries. It is notoriously corrupt, so politics and justice overlap.”

“Something else to which Italians are largely oblivious is the routine trampling on the rights of suspects and others caught up in investigations. Information is selectively leaked to reporters before the accused come to trial, often creating a presumption of guilt that is difficult to reverse, whether in court or in the public mind. An example is the case of Amanda Knox, an American student, and her Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, who were convicted last year of the murder of Ms. Knox’s British flatmate.”

One of us (Mark) wrote about this in his recent book about the trial, The Monster of Perugia – The Framing of Amanda Knox ( The following is an excerpt from Chapter 12, “Gulliver’s Travel Warning.”

“Legendary traveler Lemuel Gulliver had the misfortune to be caught in a violent storm at sea. Driven far off his course, his ship sunk, his shipmates dead and his lifeboat gone, Gulliver swam and waded till he happened upon an unknown island. Safely removed from the terrible weather, Jonathan Swift’s famous character awoke to find that he was captive and at the mercy of a perfect storm of political intrigue among a very little people, the 6” tall, Lilliputians. 

Amanda Knox had the misfortune of having her roommate murdered while she was living abroad. The tragedy that befell Meredith could just as easily have happened to Amanda – a thought that weighed heavily upon her in the days after the murder. Having escaped that terrible fate, Amanda found herself held captive and at the mercy of a perfect storm of third world justice, corruption, and personal interests, all deeply entrenched in what is theoretically a first-world nation.

The language and culture barriers between Gulliver and the Lilliputians were immense. There had been no known contacts between their worlds, after all. He tried speaking half a dozen languages to them and got nowhere. There was an unfathomable gulf to cross, and yet…. Gulliver found ways to express his respect for his captors, who recognized and appreciated his mild disposition. Soon they were won over. They fed him, freed him, they got along with him, right up until he refused to slaughter their enemies from the neighboring island of Blefescu.

Amanda expressed her respect for her captors and her confidence in the Italian justice system. She has been a model prisoner. She was paraded through the streets when arrested, she had her picture displayed beside convicted mafia dons before she was charged, she was held in prison for a year before those charges were brought, she has been demonized in much of the Italian press, and she was wrongly convicted and sentenced to 26 years in prison. Score one for the Lilliputians.”

Amanda doesn’t seem to be blessed with Gulliver’s luck, so we thought we would check on the job the diplomats have done ensuring her right to fair treatment under Italian law by reviewing the cables that reported on the case by the United States Consul in Florence. The cables were conveniently revealed by the Wikileaks organization. We wondered how the information reported in those crucial cables compared with what had actually happened to Amanda.
In theory, Amanda has the full support of the United States’ Department of State, which has the responsibility to ensure that American Citizens’ rights under local law are respected. At least, that is what they say. In response to questions about what they were doing about Amanda’s ordeal in Perugia, State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly said, “…it is the responsibility of our consular officials to make sure that American citizens are treated fairly under local law.” That seems clear enough.

With all of that in mind, the following is the first cable sent, in December of 2008, more than a year after Amanda was arrested after an all night interrogation by a dozen polizia detectives operating in rotation, speaking in Italian, and without being allowed an attorney. That interrogation, it was claimed, was not recorded, in another violation of Italian law.

DEC 08
 1. NAME: Knox, Amanda Marie
 9. CHARGES: Participation in voluntary manslaughter with aggravating circumstances of cruelty (potential maximum sentence: life imprisonment; however, in Italy “life imprisonment” equates to 30 years) ; Participation in sexual assault (possible sentence: 5 – 10 years) ; Simulated robbery (possible sentence: 1 – 3 years) ; Slander (stemming from Ms. Knox’s accusation against Patrick Lumumba ; possible sentence: 6 – 20 years) ; Possession of weapons (possible sentence: up to 1 year) ; Aggravated theft (possible sentence: 3 – 10 years) 
10. PLACE OF DETENTION : Capanne Penitentiary, Perugia, Italy
12. TRIAL/HEARING DATE:  January 16, 2009

That was the first cable sent after Amanda was paraded through the streets of Perugia in polizia vehicles with sirens blasting in a macabre kind of victory dance immediately after her arrest. It was after it was ruled that she could be held for a year in prison before being charged. It was after Amanda was relentlessly demonized by a rabid press, fed a continuous stream of news leaks, lies, and innuendoes from the prosecution and polizia, much of them illegal, all of them consumed by a jury that was not sequestered or enjoined against discussions in any way.

This cable, like all the rest, is a simple list of the starkest, and ultimately least informative facts about the arrest and prosecution of Amanda Knox. It is as if a lynch mob dragged someone away in full view of everyone, and all that was reported back was “Suspect was apprehended.” No mention of the white hoods, torches, or the terrified, innocent victim. Amanda Knox was in the process of the most conspicuous public lynching in decades, and yet the report gives no hint whatever that it was anything but justice taking its course.     

But let’s look at more cables to be sure. Perhaps they were waiting for the actual trial to report back anything of substance. A month or so after the trial began the next cable was sent: 
FEB 09
12. TRIAL/HEARING DATE:  Trial is ongoing. Hearings take place every Friday and Saturday. The court plans to follow the same weekly hearing schedule in the foreseeable future.

Friday and Saturday… two days a week. That’s it. Bus schedules go into more detail.  The next cable, three months of blatant kangaroo court proceedings later:
MAY 09
          SUBJECT: Arrest Update: Amcit Amanda Knox
 12. TRIAL/HEARING DATE: Trial is ongoing.    Hearings take place every Friday and Saturday.   According to Ms. Knox’s attorney, the trial is being moved to an accelerated time-table and beginning June 4, hearings will be held three times a week, on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
 18. ACCESS: ConOff and ConAsst visite Ms. Knox on May 14, 2009 at Le Capanne prison in Perugia, Italy.  

Note the numbers, mostly 12 or 18, denoting categories of information. There is no 1, 2, 3… in most of these particular cables, but only 10, 12, or 18. Apparently, 10 means “Where At,” 12 means, “Cursory description of the trial schedule,” and “18” means something like, “We had to skip a nice luncheon to go to some damned prison.”

It is a shame that only these few numbers were used. Diplomatic cables that briefly summarize the relentless destruction of an innocent life might benefit from using more categories. May I make a humble suggestion? How about assigning, say, 23 to “Defendant’s rights are being trampled beyond recognition,” and how about 42 for, “Prosecutor has been convicted of prosecutorial misconduct, but is still the prosecutor.” That would leave 36 to represent “Defendant has been relentlessly smeared by the world’s press,” and 78 for “The forensics were a travesty of pseudoscience.”

Three more cables follow, at roughly three-month intervals, in August, November, and December of 2009. They say nothing about the constant spread of misinformation by the prosecution, nothing about the fact that the prosecutor was under indictment for misconduct (convicted of same in January, 2010), nothing about the fact that the DNA evidence would never be admitted as evidence in any normal courtroom, and that the two star prosecution witnesses were drug addicts.   

One might argue, “So what?” Perhaps these reports are simple schedule documents, but here’s the thing. When asked about the trial after Amanda’s conviction in a December 7, 2009 briefing, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said “we haven’t received any indications necessarily that Italian law was not followed.”

I guess they weren’t paying attention. Adding insult to that injury, in response to a question that pointed out the tainted evidence, the non-sequestered jury, the problem prosecutor, Mr. Kelly asserted that “…Italy is a democratic country that has an established and transparent legal system.”

Which brings us back, full circle, to our opening point. If Amanda had been captured by a crazy prosecutor in North Korea, she might have had some support from State. In Italy, she has been on her own.

Here’s the takeaway lesson from all this. The next time you’re in a foreign country and a crazy, corrupt local prosecutor decides to make a career move by throwing you in prison for the rest of your life, you can count on your United States’ consul to dependably tick off the milestones as you rot in jail.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Italian lawmakers Claim Amanda Knox Was Treated Unfairly and Have Filed a Petition Requesting an Investigation

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano & Rocco Girlanda

Associated Press: Italy: Campaign in support of Knox steps up

ROME — Some Italian lawmakers claim Amanda Knox was treated unfairly and are seeking a probe of the prosecutors’ office in Perugia, the city where the American student was convicted of murdering her British roommate.  Read the entire article here

Message from the Italy-USA Foundation to the President of Italian Republic

The President of Italy-USA Foundation, Hon. Rocco Girlanda, sent the following letter to the President of Italian Republic, Hon. Giorgio Napolitano, regarding the case of Amanda Knox.

Illustrious President,
I address you as President of the Italy-USA Foundation - that as you know is an international bipartisan institution to which dozens of parliamentarians belong, together with Italian scientists, journalists, diplomats, politicians - and as a parliamentary member of the Judiciary Committee in the Chamber of Deputies. The event of the American student Amanda Knox’s detainment has provoked many discussions and debates, above all in the United States where even members of Congress and other influential institutional personalities are involved. I have been working personally for over a year to try to alleviate the tensions, both in Italy and in the United States, that this case has generated. Also, in full respect of the trial process and of the role of the judicial magistrates, we must make note that the appellate trial has objectively opened more wide and resounding doubts on what was considered clear evidence in the first phase, in which further expertise and examination of testimony were not admitted, limiting the debate in fact to the only reasons of accusation. After all, the same president of the Court of Appeals has opened the second level of trial with an eloquent clarification: “The respect of article 533 of the Penal Procedure Code (pronunciation of sentence only if the accused is guilty of the offense contested beyond any reasonable doubt) does not consent to share totally the decision of the Criminal Court from the first level”. The question that I ask myself is who will compensate two young twenty-year olds, in the hoped for case that the appellate trial recognizes their innocence, of the four years of life and freedom that they have been unjustly depraved and for which no economic compensation could ever reimburse. The use of preventative incarceration will unfortunately with time characterize our country. Even in the United States such measures are difficult to comprehend in so far as the varying rules from state to state. In the U.S. one can be detained from 48 to 72 hours, after which they are officially charged or are released. Trials like that of Perugia could be celebrated with the charged in conditions of freedom, eventually with the restrictive measures about the ex-patriot regarding a foreign citizen. Still, the magistrate has adopted the possible reiteration of the offense as a reason for the detention in jail, a motivation that I limit myself to define as surreal for those like me whom for over a year in these parts have had the chance to get to know Amanda Knox. I have in fact felt the obligation to write a book on Amanda Knox filled with many talks that I had with her in prison, in order to bring her justice and to explain to the world’s public opinion that the true Amanda is a girl completely different from the image that, with the contributions of the media, has emerged from the trials. All of the Penitentiary Police personnel of the prison of Perugia, that have come to know her in the past three years, have confirmed her exemplary behaviour done with respect and kindness towards all of the other detainees and towards the personnel. Amanda is a girl of which today I am proud to call a great friend. She is an ideal girl with which I would send my five children on vacation. Yet from the beginning, this case has pointed out some of the forceful and disturbing rule of law. During the investigation, a television and internet interview was conducted with a State Police officer that showed the corridor of the Roman Police offices, where there are framed photographs of such figures like the leaders of organized crime, serial killers, and other criminals convicted with severe crimes. The officer in question also showed some of the successes of the Central Operating Services, and right after the portrait of Bernardo Provenzano, head of the mafia, there was a framed portrait of Amanda Knox. This portrait was displayed in the State Police offices even before the first trial, and it was accompanied by very serious declarations to the press of that ruling (which has never been sanctioned) where he argues that a “psychological” investigation without the help of science and technology has, “allowed us to arrive very quickly to identify the culprits”. Is it not necessary to recall here that according to the legal principles of our country a defendant can only be found guilty at the end of three sets of hearings by the judiciary and not at the end of police interviews. It seems indeed rather curious and disturbing that in a democratic and liberal state, despite what is required by the Code of Criminal Procedure about the need for absolute and unambiguous evidence, it is possible to judge a citizen convicted only on “psychological” bases after a police interrogation. Through the light findings from the appeal process, the so-called evidence and testimonies of the prosecution have proved to be at best considered contradictory and unreliable. All of these distortions have occurred in the various phases of the investigation by the out of place statements from the police and during the first trial; they been widely reported and distributed throughout United States, even in talk shows with tens of million viewers. These distortions, not without reason, are fueling accusations against the administration of justice in our country. In this sense my intention is to present, along with several colleagues, a parliamentary question to the government regarding the case of Amanda Knox being held. All of this is to protect the freedom of the individual, but above everything else, ensuring the principles of liberal democratic institutions. As Martin Luther King wrote in a letter from the Birmingham, Alabama prison, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere... Justice too long delayed is justice denied”. In this light and with the hope of a different ruling on the Amanda Knox trial taking place in Perugia, I’m well aware of the feelings you have towards the American nation and towards the excellent, historic friendship between the two countries. I would make an appeal, Mr. President, because your authoritative intervention will help to reconcile and mitigate the many controversies that this incident has generated on both sides of the Atlantic. In expressing my deepest gratitude, to the many citizens of Italy and America that the Italy-USA Foundation is honoured to represent, I take this time to express my utmost respects.

Rocco Girlanda

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Amanda Knox Prosecutor Continues Abuse of Power to Silence His Critics


As support continues to build for Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, as they fight for their freedom in Perugia Italy, the controversial prosecutor that secured their convictions continues to abuse his power in attempt to silence their support. Prosecutor Guiliano Mignini was the lead prosecutor in the Meredith Kercher murder trial in Perugia Italy, ending in guilty verdicts for Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in late 2009. The trial was highly controversial leaving many throughout the world to believe that Amanda Knox and Rafaele Sollecito have been wrongfully convicted. The appeal for both is currently ongoing.

Last month, The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent, nonpartisan organization dedicated to defending the rights of journalists worldwide, released an open letter to Italy's President, Giorgio Napolitano, highlighting their concern with the conduct of Giuliano Mignini during the Meredith Kercher trial. CPJ reports that the anti-press actions of Mignini and those under his supervision has caused the press to shy away from reporting on the Meredith Kercher case including the ongoing appeal trail for Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. The open letter highlights the abuse of freelance reporter Frank Sfarzo, who has been very critical of the case on his blog Perugia Shock.

You can read more about the open letter, Mignini's conduct, and the harassment of Frank Sfarzo here:

Guiliano Mignini has shown that he has not been swayed by CPJ's concerns regarding his past and present behavior, by continuing to press forward with a defamation lawsuit against Perugia Shock, a blog created and maintained by Frank Sfarzo. Mignini has repeatedly threatened legal action in attempt to silence those who disagree with him. Bowing to pressure, Google recently took Frank's blog offline. 

Investigative reporter Frank Sfarzo, creator of Perugia Shock, June 2009. Photo by Candace Dempsey

In a recent interview, Sfarzo told CPJ that he received an email from Google, which hosts the Perugia Shock blog, informing him that a court order has been issued for the “preventive closure” of his blog. It was from that court order that Sfarzo learned that Perugia Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini has filed a lawsuit against Perugia Shock for “defamation, carried out by means of a website.” The court order was issued on February 23, by Florentine Judge Paola Belsino.

Frank Sfarzo's reporting must not be silenced. Injustice in Perugia has frequently backed up the Perugia Shock blog because we have long feared that it would become a target of Mignini. Perugia Shock will be back online in its entirety very soon. You can view the new blog here:

Frank Sfarzo is the only reporter that has attended every single court hearing for Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, and the only Italian reporter providing information to an English speaking audience. Perugia Shock has provided invaluable first hand information about this case for over three years. Frank Sfarzo's voice must not be allowed to be silenced by a corrupt prosecutor hell-bent on destroying anyone who dares to disagree with him. Enough is enough!

The Committee to Protect Journalists was appalled to see Mignini's latest abuse of power and was quick to respond:

"The Committee to Protect Journalists authorities calls on Florence and Perugia to drop the trumped-up defamation lawsuit against Perugia Shock, an English-language blog created and maintained by Frank Sfarzo, an Italian freelance journalist and blogger. Sfarzo has endured sustained harassment in retaliation for his reporting and commentary on the official investigation into the November 2007 murder of British exchange student Meredith Kercher."

“We call on Perugia Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini to drop his defamation lawsuit against Perugia Shock and allow it to remain online,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “This is hardly the first time Mignini has resorted to the law to silence his critics. It’s a heavy-handed tactic that is bound to have a chilling effect on journalists in Italy .” 

This story has been a hot topic on blogs that follow the Amanda Knox case. You would think that other bloggers would come to Frank Sfarzo's defense, in light of the fact that his blog was taken offline, as this is clearly a matter of free speech. Instead the anti-Amanda Knox groups run by New Jersey resident, Peter Quennell and Seattle resident, Peggy Ganong have taken this opportunity to attack Frank Sfarzo and CPJ. The true intentions of these groups have been crystal clear in their reaction to this story. Peggy Ganong speaks adamantly about free speech when others post on her website, Perugia Murder File, yet she has failed to stand up and state that it's wrong to silence Frank Sfarzo. Excuses are being made on her website that Perugia Shock contained defamatory information so the censorship was warranted. This is a baseless claim but one that is quite interesting coming from Peggy Ganong whose website often posts defamatory information about credible writers and journalists such as Douglas Preston and Candace Dempsey. 

Peter Quennell has used his website, True Justice, to attack the CPJ, an organization that works tirelessly to protect journalists throughout the world. Quennell mocks CPJ's Joel Simon accusing him of hiding and pushing out another "naive" spokesperson. Why should CPJ respond to Quennell's baseless attacks and why on earth would Joel Simon feel the need to hide from Peter Quennell? Who does Quennell think he is? In his most recent rant, Quennell refers to Joel Simon as "Joel Fisher," Maybe Quennell will come up with another ridiculous theory that Joel and I are working with Frank Sfarzo and Giuliano Mignini to promote the grand conspiracy that is brewing in Quennell's head.

Quennell's website has posted many falsehoods regarding this developing story, including the falsehood that Frank Sfarzo is an "anonymous Perugian blogger." Quennell's description of Sfarzo makes absolutely no sense due to the fact that Sfarzo is well known in Perugia. Quennell even shows Sfarzo on his website photographed standing next to Giuliano Mignini. The "anonymous" tag comes from the fact that Frank Sfarzo uses a pen name on his blog. Peggy Ganong had this to say on her website: "My guess is that Frank Sfarzo hopes to get some sort of career mileage out of this. If he held himself to real journalistic standards and reported under his own name, things might be different."  Is it possible that Peter Quennell and Peggy Ganong honestly feel that using a pen name is justification for being pressured into silence by the authorities?

Quennell suggests on his website that Sfarzo created this entire drama to bring attention to himself: "NO WAY that site would be going live if a judge in Florence had said to shut it down. Or if Frank’s legal troubles were because of it. Or if Mignini really were gunning for him. It looks like all the Google Blogger hullaballoo yesterday was to simply set CPJ up for another anti-Mignini attack, and to add to Frank’s martyrdom and jump his usually very small audience."

Does Peter Quennell believe that CPJ is in on his dreamt up grand conspiracy? Does he believe that Giuliano Mignini is in on it too? Of course Quennell's theory is complete nonsense. If Quennell took thirty seconds to do some research he would quickly find out that Frank Sfarzo is not the one posting the new Perugia Shock blog and he would also see that the court order against Frank Sfarzo is very real and currently viewable online. You can view the court order here:

If Quennell's egregious accusation that Sfarzo pulled off a publicity stunt, and was never actually harassed, wasn't enough, Quennell also accused Frank of being sexually attracted to Amanda Knox: "Frank. Up to mid 2008 Frank was humanely pro Meredith and sensibly pro guilt. Then he turned on a dime and developed a noticeable lust for Knox." 

When is Quennell going to realize that everything in life does not revolve around sex? I would think Quennell's recent shortcomings would cause him to refrain from this type of speech. I guess it's true that old dogs never learn.

The attacks coming from Quennell and Ganong against Frank Sfarzo are very telling. I would ask anyone who looks to their websites for information on the Amanda Knox case to ask themselves, what kind of person would condone the harassment of a journalist or a blogger, no matter what side of this debate he or she stands on?

Frank Sfarzo deserves the support of anyone who believes in the right to free speech. Those currently fighting so hard against him need to stop and think about what they are actually fighting for.  

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Committee to Protect Journalists: Italian Prosecutor Files Defamation Lawsuit, Shutters Blog

Giuliano Mignini

New York, May 11, 2011—The Committee to Protect Journalists authorities calls on Florence and Perugia to drop the trumped-up defamation lawsuit against Perugia Shock, an English-language blog created and maintained by Frank Sfarzo, an Italian freelance journalist and blogger. Sfarzo has endured sustained harassment in retaliation for his reporting and commentary on the official investigation into the November 2007 murder of British exchange student Meredith Kercher.
Sfarzo told CPJ that he received an email from Google, which hosts the site, last night informing him that a court order has been issued for the “preventive closure” of his blog dedicated to the Kercher case. In compliance with that order, Google took down Perugia Shock; it is now unavailable. It was from the court order, Sfarzo told CPJ, that he learned that Perugia Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini—who has a long-standing record of anti-press actions—has filed a lawsuit against Perugia Shock for “defamation, carried out by means of a website.” The court order, which stemmed from Mignini’s claim, was issued on February 23 by Florentine Judge Paola Belsino. Mignini is the lead prosecutor on the Kercher case.
“We call on Perugia Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini to drop his defamation lawsuit against Perugia Shock and allow it to remain online,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “This is hardly the first time Mignini has resorted to the law to silence his critics. It’s a heavy-handed tactic that is bound to have a chilling effect on journalists in Italy .”
CPJ has documented a history of official harassment, physical attack, and fabricated legal prosecution against Sfarzo—all stemming from his blog, which he created in 2007. The blog carried reporting and comments on the Kercher case. On it, Sfarzo regularly criticized what he considered flaws in the Kercher investigation, at times using harsh language to express his views. Sfarzo’s case was a focus of CPJ’s April 19 letter to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, which expressed concern at the anti-press actions of Perugia authorities.
CPJ is a New York–based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information, visit

Friday, May 6, 2011

Amanda Knox: A Case Dominated By Sexual Obsession

In late 2007, student Meredith Kercher was found brutally murdered in a hillside cottage in Perugia Italy. Her murder sparked a media frenzy due to the alleged sexual nature of the crime. News out of Perugia told unsubstantiated tales of a satanic ritualistic sex orgy that led to murder. At the heart of these accusations was Meredith's roommate Amanda Knox. This outrageous fantasy all began with a kiss.

The morning following the murder, Amanda Knox and her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were standing outside the cottage watching investigators and members of the media converge on the murder scene. As both stood there in the cold, Raffaele held Amanda keeping her warm and at one point they shared a few short kisses. At that moment cameras flashed, images of the two kissing were viewed around the world, instantly creating the fictional satanic ritualistic sex crazed killer "Foxy Knoxy." The media failed to note that Amanda was scared and shaking, looking for comfort in an extreme moment of shock. They also failed to note that the nick-name pulled from Amanda's MySpace page was actually a childhood nickname earned for her skills on the soccer field. "Foxy Knoxy" made for salacious headlines in a story that was becoming more sexually charged with each coming hour. Sex sells and the media saw the opportunity to cash in. Unfortunately the truth was nowhere on their radar.

In the days and weeks that followed, the fantasy of a lust driven and sexually motivated sex killing was the topic of conversation about a case that in reality had absolutely nothing to do with sex. Police moved forward with their investigation of what they would call a "threesome sex-orgy gone wrong." False claims fueled what quickly became a sexual obsession that overwhelmed every media report. One story in particular sent the obsession into overdrive. It was reported that Amanda went to a lingerie shop with Raffaele shortly after the murder to by a g-string. Readers were told they were seen laughing and talking about "wild" sex in the store. As it turns out, the witness claiming to hear the sex talk didn't speak any English. Amanda and Raffaele just so happened to be speaking English in the store. We would later find out that the witness was paid by a tabloid. Even worse, the store wasn't even a lingerie shop. Elizabeth Vargas, an ABC reporter, reported on the Oprah Winfrey show that she visited the store and observed that they didn't even sell the sexy lingerie that was described in the media. She described the store as being similar to a Target store in the United States. Unfortunately, the security camera footage that showed a brief moment when Amanda smiled at Raffaele was all the media needed to propel the lie around the globe.

Barbie Nadeau
One of the most salacious writers in the case, yellow journalist Barbie Nadeau was front and center when it came to fueling the sexual obsession hovering over the case. She printed outright lies regarding excerpts leaked from Amanda's prison diary stating that Amanda claimed to have slept with seven partners during the time she was in Italy. The truth is, in a dishonest attempt to gain information about her sex life, Amanda was told by corrupt prison officials that she tested positive for HIV. In a very responsible manner, Amanda put together an honest list of partners she had been with during her lifetime. Little did she know that immoral journalists such as Barbie Nadeau would use this information to formulate egregious lies to be used against her.

Nadeau consistently shows how out of touch she is with the current culture in Perugia Italy. For example, Nadeau left college students in Perugia baffled when she made this observation:

"I don't think it's completely out of the picture to assume that group sex is part of the university experience now.  Based on interviews I have done, it's just what kids are doing in Perugia. These kids are not strangers to what I would consider to be extreme sex games."

Most readers would probably be quite interested in hearing from those Barbie claimed to interview. If group sex is a normal part of college life, Barbie Nadeau is the only one to realize this.

But Barbie's salacious style is not just used to sexualize the students of Perugia or Amanda Knox. Instead, Nadeau is one of the few yellow journalists willing to take her constant sexualization to the next level by disrespecting the murder victim, Meredith Kercher, in her book Angel Face, describing her lifeless naked body in lurid and sexualized terms ( as viewed during autopsy). There was no reason whatsoever to mention anything about the appearance of Meredith’s private parts and Nadeau should be ashamed for stooping to that level to promote her career. 

Sexually charged headlines for articles written by Barbie Nadeau, and others like her, came easy for editors all around the world.  For those who haven't followed the case, salacious headlines like the following were the norm:

"Lesbian Sex Plea to Knoxy"

"Foxy Knoxy plays the field from her jail cell with new romance"

“Diary reveals Foxy Knoxy’s sex secrets"

“Hayden banned from seeing sex monster Knox”

Giuliano Mignini

The Prosecution and the Court
The media carries much of the blame for fueling the sexual obsession, but we must not forget that they were being fed erroneous information from the prosecution's office led by Giuliano Mignini. Mignini was the media's source for many of the lies that were spread early on. Prosecutor Mignini would change his theory of the crime many times throughout the course of the trial. He eventually dropped the sex game theory that filled the headlines for over two years leading up to the verdict, going with an equally ridiculous theory that Amanda simply hated Meredith enough to kill her. Along with the baseless motivation of hatred, he was able to keep lust in his narrative. He created dialog for Amanda during his closing argument and imagined her saying this to Meredith during the attack: "You are always behaving like a little saint. Now we will show you; now we will make you have sex."

Judge Massei, the head magistrate in the case, didn't buy Mignini's theory and instead created his own lust driven theory of the crime. Massei suggested that Amanda and Raffaele were being intimate in Amanda's room when they overheard Rudy Guede attacking Meredith. Instead of coming to Meredith's aid, Amanda and Raffaele decided to join in on the attack. The amazing thing is that Massei's theory is even more ludicrous than Mignini's. Why would Amanda decide to help a virtual stranger attack and murder her friend? How would they have known that Rudy would not attack them? Common sense was nowhere to be found and apparently any sexually driven theory would do.

Peggy Ganong and Perugia Murder File
The sexual obsession fueled by the court and observed in the media was quickly adopted by a group of individuals running an ongoing hate campaign against Amanda Knox online. This group assembles on a discussion board called Perugia Murder File (PMF) run by Seattle resident, Peggy Ganong. The same group also runs a so called informational site called True Justice (TJMK) run by New Jersey resident, Peter Quennell. This group claims to be dedicated to preserving the memory of Meredith Kercher but in reality their only goal is to smear Amanda Knox. They continuously show an obsession with sex in their daily conversation attempting to paint Amanda's supporters as middle-aged men that only support Amanda because they are sexually attracted to her. Here are a few quotes from PMF, the site moderated by Peggy Ganong:

"They are middle aged Perverts who dream of being the foxy to Amanda's knoxy"

"All are middle-aged men driven by fantasies of recapturing lost youth, being a hero and carrying the damsel in distress off into the sunset."

"those middle aged one hand typists who spend their sleepless nights imagining romantic interludes with Amanda."

"seriously sick, pitifully perverted, lust aided attraction that some bored middle aged males with keyboards, have for a unanimously convicted, justly incarcerated young female"

Recently, this group suggested that Wikipedia Founder Jimbo Wales became interested in the Amanda Knox case because he was looking to have sex with Amanda.

"I don't see the pay-off in the end. Right now, Jimbo is on the verge of losing any sense of respect as a new media entrepreneur (lying about his checkuser results, for example) just for a chance to catch a peek of some tender young sex killer flesh."

"Jimbo is precisely the profile of the aging Lothario looking for access to tail through his powerful media connections. He isn't thinking with his correct head and everything he's proposed is straight out of the FOA manual."   

"Somebody should give Jimbo a cold shower. He's really lathered up and ready for brunette sex killer action"   

Peggy Ganong should have been ashamed to be part of that conversation, but as moderator she not only endorsed the dialogue but joined in with a zinger of her own: "In all seriousness, what is it with these wiki guys and their wicks?"

Peter Quennell: The worst of the sexually obsessed 
Peter Quennell, who runs the website True Justice, does nothing to hide his obsession with murder victim Meredith Kercher on his site, giving readers an experience that is outright creepy. He doesn't hesitate to carry on the sex laden talking points of his group. He had this to say about me when he felt the need to talk about my daughter while accusing me of lusting over Amanda:

"Hmmm. Someone now tells me that Bruce Fisher who runs some FOA website claims to have a daughter. I have never paid much interest in him, but one has to wonder why he is slobbering kinkily over Amanda Knox while at the same time undermining those public institutions that are the bedrock of the future of his daughter and, when she has them, her own kids."

Even though many of the people that support Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are women, Peter Quennell, Peggy Ganong and their followers, like to spread lies that the support comes primarily from perverted middle-aged men. This line of thinking is disgusting, but not surprising.  More likely than not, followers of Quennell and Ganong project their own shameful and creepy sexual obsessions onto others.

Recently, Quennell showed his obsession with young women when he stalked and attempted to extort money from a young woman who resisted his advances. This young woman's name will not be mentioned in this article in order to protect her privacy. Quennell attempted to lure this young woman into a business deal in which he would create a promotional website to help build her career. She was new to the United States and Quennell's offer sounded pretty good in the beginning. Quennell proceeded to create a website telling the young woman that he was creating the site free of charge to show her the benefits of his promotional expertise. The site included many personal details of the young woman's life and she did not approve. The young woman was shocked at the website Quennell had created and also became concerned (and was warned by at least one friend) that his interest in her was not solely business-related. Quennell's emails were at times sexual in nature, repeatedly asking for her to take trips with him. He refused to cease communications with her when asked, and he appeared to her to be obsessed.

The young woman asked Quennell to take the website offline but he refused, demanding money to remove it. Quennell sent the young woman hundreds of emails encouraging (pressuring) her to work with him. This disturbing daily barrage of emails led the young woman to become afraid of Quennell and she decided to go to the police. It was only after being contacted by detectives that Quennell finally removed the website ending this young woman's nightmare.

Quennell has been instructed by the police to have absolutely no contact with this young woman. In fact, if, as a result of this article or any other catalyst, Quennell decides to disobey the instructions of the police and contact or harass this young woman, or repost the offensive website he created, he knows that he will be in violation of stalking laws, and will be subject to arrest.  Additionally, individuals close to the case are in possession of several hundred emails sent by Quennell to this young woman. To this point, they have been kept confidential, and will remain so, unless Quennell violates stalking laws by any of the previously mentioned actions or continues to harass the young woman in any way, shape or form.

I know of other women that have been mistreated by Quennell that have chosen to stay silent for personal reasons. I encourage anyone that has been wronged by Peter Quennell to come forward. Exposing the truth will help to prevent Quennell from mistreating others in the future. Peter Quennell is one of the leaders of the ongoing hate campaign against Amanda Knox. If this information doesn't cause readers to pause and reevaluate what kind person Peter Quennell is and how credible his website is, nothing will.

The truth in this case has been clouded over by a disturbing sexual obsession that began with the prosecution. This obsession spread like cancer throughout the media, distorting public perception, fueling a hate campaign, eventually leading to the wrongful conviction of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, who now face a quarter century behind bars.

The murder of Meredith Kercher was a brutal crime but not a complicated one. Rudy Guede ambushed Meredith when she arrived home while Guede was in the process of burglarizing the residence. Meredith endured a violent attack which included rape. This crime was not one of lust acted out by three sex killers. This crime was one of extreme violence inflicted by one man in an act of pure evil. The sexual obsession that overwhelmed this case was based on pure fantasy; it was never about sex.