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Condom timeline

Since the comments on the (in alpha order) {A, Miss; Assange, Julian; "Harold"; W, Miss; WikiLeaks}-affair[1] at Valhalla's post are almost at the right hand margin, I think it's time to start a new thread. Setting aside the idea that prosecutors like to try cases in the press just as much as defense teams do, and taking the issue of consent while sleeping as read, and taking the Guardian's redaction of the police transcript as a record, instead of the contested territory it actually is, here's a condom timeline constructed from the Guardian's redactions of the Swedish police transcripts.

Wednesday 11 August. Assange arrives in Stockholm.

Wednesday 13 August evening [redaction: Miss A]. Miss A and Assange have sex in Miss A's flat:

[Miss A] told police [when?] that she had tried a number of times to reach for a condom but Assange had stopped her by holding her arms and pinning her legs. The statement records Miss A describing how Assange then released her arms and agreed to use a condom, but she told the police that at some stage Assange had "done something" with the condom that resulted in it becoming ripped[2], and ejaculated without withdrawing.

Saturday 14 August afternoon [redaction: Miss W]. Miss W and Assange make out in a cinema.

Saturday 14 August evening [redaction: "Monica"]. Miss A holds a party at her flat:

One of her friends, "Monica", later told police [when?] that during the party Miss A had told her about the ripped condom and unprotected sex.

Saturday 15 August [redaction]. Miss A tells Monica that she thought Assange had torn the condom on purpose.

Monday 16 August evening [redaction: Miss W]. Miss W and Assange have sex, not when Assange refuses to wear a condom, but "at least once when 'he agreed unwillingly to use a condom.'"

Tuesday 17 August morning [redaction: Miss W]. Miss W wakes to find Assange "having sex [sic] with her". Assange says he's not wearing a condom when asked.

Wednesday 18 August (Timing in Guardian not clear.) [redaction: Miss W] Miss W goes to a pharmacist for a morning-after pill, and to a hospital for an STD test.[3]

Wednesday 18 August [redaction: "Harold"?]. "Miss A told Harold and a friend that Assange would not leave her flat and was sleeping in her bed, although she was not having sex with him and he spent most of the night sitting with his computer."

Thursday 19 August [redaction: "Harold"] Miss A gives Harold a full account. Harold calls the police and confronts Assange.

By Friday 20 August [redaction: Guardian?] Miss W texts Miss A looking for help in finding Assange. The two women meet and compare notes.

Friday 20 August (Timing in Guardian not clear.) [Source: "Harold"] Miss A calls Harold several times asking him to persuade Assange to take an STD test to reassure Miss W. Assange refuses. Miss A warns that Miss W will go to the police. Assange rejects this as blackmail.

Friday 20 August late afternoon [redaction: "Harold"] Assange agrees to be tested, but the clinics have closed for the weekend.

Saturday 21 August morning [redaction: Guardian]: Journalists ask Assange comment. Assange frames the matter as a dirty trick.

So, how did the journalists know? And if Assange, who surely didn't just fall off the turnip truck, wasn't concerned with dirty tricks from the moment he stepped off the plane, why on earth not?[4] And if he was, surely sleeping with two women with whom he had only the briefest possible acquaintance wasn't the best possible strategy to avoid such traps?

* * *

As Votermom cogently remarks, we don't allow victims to determine what's a crime. And rightly so.

So, speaking as a case-builder and a connoisseur of advocacy and talking points, I really like it that there's corroborative, checkable detail in the form of sought STD tests, a communication between Miss A and "Monica" before Miss A and Miss W compared notes, and a third party both knowing Miss A and Miss W, and taking the matter seriously. (I'm leaving text messages out, because I can't but think they're easy to spoof.) So, my take is that Marianne Ny wants to prosecute the case because she thinks she can win. [5] If the Guardian's redaction of the police transcripts is accurate, and especially if Ny is playing with any hole cards at all[6], then Assange is toast. "A matter for the police courts," as "Harold" says.

Finally, demanding or expecting sex without a condom is absolutely classic male entitlement. Jeebus, Julian, whose body is it, anyhow? WTF? Speaking as a man, and as an individual male person, to me at the best it's horribly creepy to experience leaving one's partner unprotected as erotic, and at the worst it's a soul-searing mindfuck ("Show me you really love me").

NOTE [1] I'm leaving out the Guardian, the governments of Sweden and the United Kingdom, the European Union, the alphabet agencies, and several sets of lawyers and other advocacy groups, in the interests of conserving space.

NOTE [2] Maybe I'm naive or unimaginative, but I don't see how Assange could have "done something" to the condom (Miss A) to cause it to tear, without being seen; condoms break. [UPDATE: Aeryl points out I'm being unimaginative. She's right!]

NOTE [3] Obviously, the test, and its results, are a trump card that none of the players have played. And we don't have an "HIV thing" until we have the test results.

NOTE [4] One theory, and a counter argument to the "turnip truck" point, is that Assange wasn't concerned because he knew there was no danger. Why? Because he's a plant, and the wikileaks material is chickenfeed. If the BoA leaks are exculpatory, we'll know that for sure. And if it be paranoia to imagine that the press is controlled, that people are surveilled, that "honey traps" exist, that dirty tricks are played, that people are tortured, and that the President can target people for assassination... Well, a child of six knows all that's true. So it couldn't be more clear that these possibilities exist, and any clear-eyed assessment of the affair has to take them into account, and without being labelled a "rape apologist" too. From the evidence on offer here, I don't think that's the case; and if I were the desk officer on this, I'd be sitting back and chuckling at how Assange tied the noose round his own neck (again, assuming....). That said, I'm sure there's plenty of "the fog of intel" surrounding the case, and for all I know, an unlimited intelligence budget has built a construct that I'm taking for "reality." ("We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.") For example, the Google searches on the affair are bad enough to make me think they're being gamed. And that said, and without, I hope, descending into CT, if that is the case, we'll see some tells. But the only method for achieving that is to examine the evidence, yes?

NOTE [5] This is separate from the issue that the United States could "render" Assange from Sweden for torture, as they have done in the past. Biden labeling Assange a terrorist sends the clearest possible signal that this possibility is on the table.

NOTE [6] For example, a torn condom (with a chain of evidence). In other words, the "blue dress" (dibs on first usage). One notes that Assange refused a DNA test, though I can't find a link since the Google results are polluted by posts on Assange's putative contacts with extra-terrestrials.

NOTE Assange wouldn't be the first hero with a dick of clay, and from the institutional standpoint of the journalistic enterprise that one hopes [4] that wikileaks is, Assange hasn't perhaps been the best front man imaginable (that's an example of very dry humor). It would be nice if we could separate our concerns: (a) One of the incentives for the state players in the game (again, [4]) is to discredit the material now being put into public record by discrediting its source; and (b) one of the possible consequences of Assange's confinement in Sweden is extraordinary rendition (again, [5]). It would be nice if we didn't react to that with applause. Hubris, nemesis.

FINAL NOTE If anybody ever wanted to do a serious time line, the "Create an event" post provides a platform. Dates and times, down to the hour, can be entered, they will automagically appear in Calendar form, and I can create "views" that build pages sorting by date, topic etc. I too am behind in my work, but if somebody really wants to make the goto source on this, this platform provides the tools...

UPDATE I haven't been able to do substantive posting on this topic other than the odd Quick Hit because of RL demands, so that's why I've been moderating on it almost exclusively. That's life, and the RL demands are probably going to continue for some more days.

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Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

I don't know how meticulously Assange grooms his fingernails, but horrendous tool of the patriarchy that I am, I keep mine polished, long, filed and shaped, and I've poked mine through many a condom.

So, depending on the position they may have been engaging in, or Assange's quick reflexes, it's entirely probable especially based on his previous behavior, for Miss A believe he would and could damage the condom.

Not having a penis myself, I'm unsure of this, but I am assured by my penis equipped friends that you can feel the difference when the condom fails.

Submitted by lambert on

Good point on positions. I was unimaginative!

I see what a programmer would call the "implementation detail," but nothing is "entirely probable" when there's no evidence whatever for the assertion [other than character or demeanor]. And "Could have" isn't "did," in the same way that "might have," "most likely did," and "It couldn't be more obvious to the meanest intelligence" isn't "did." If you've got a link on on this, just as I provided a link on breakage statistics, please feel free to provide it.

Gotta go.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

When you replied, so I'll put it here, then respond.

Just continuing the point about nails, if you file them, or have them manicured, it thins the surface of the nail, making it sharper and capable of slicing.

So, if Miss A is anything like me, with the nails, she knows very well how easy it is to tamper with a condom.

And based on his previous behavior, in forcibly restraining her from reaching a condom, it is within the realm of possibility that he did tamper with to ensure his own satisfaction. So that's why she asserts he tampered with it, because really, he resists using a condom, and then it just happens to break, when most condoms have a failure rate of less than 1%. Coincidence is too much for me to swallow here, and I like swallowing.

But anyways, I don't see anyone, other than the victim, asserting that he intentionally broke the condom, just that he restrained the victims in her attempts to get one.

Submitted by lambert on

Sure, I accept all that. All I'm saying is that "probably" isn't the same as "realm of possibility."

Frankly, I think the argument from position, as opposed to the argument from the nails, is by far the stronger, and surely that was likely to occur to her as well?

Egad, I can't believe I'm writing this. What a world. Gotta go.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

I don't see how you tamper with a condom to make it break, without a tool of some sort, and THAT I think would be noticeable(Scuse me, let me go get my Swiss Army Knife, baby, I'll be right back), regardless of positions.

Since there multiple assertions of this behavior on behalf of Assange, I'm gonna go out on a limb, and say he prolly even keeps a nail, for that very purpose. Just like coke snorters keep long pinky nails, and blunt smokers keep long thumb and index nails.

And the probable, at least, means to her, it's probable, based on his previous behavior, and the low rate of condom failure, that he tampered with the condom. I mean, I can see why she believes he did.

Submitted by lambert on

You wrote:

[I]t's entirely probable especially based on his previous behavior, for Miss A [to] believe

Sure, if it's a matter of Miss A's belief, I can see that; I got distracted by the bolded "probable" and the not bolded "Miss A [to] believe." In no case whatever, regardless of sex, gender, or person, is "X is probable" the same as "A believes that X is probable."

The tool idea was exactly what I was thinking, even to your wording ("Excuse me, honey...."). I like the idea of the nail, but again, but and so it's subject to proof or disproof (and not Photoshopped Internet images, dear Lord).

UPDATE Since Assange stayed up late typing at his computer, and probably not for the first time, if he's a geek, it's hard for me to imagine, that word again, that he'd have a single long nail; programmers tend to have short nails because long nails would get in the way at the keyboard. And if he did, he'd adjust his typing motion, and there would be a differentiating sound or note, and all that would surely be noticed and commented on. ("Dude, why the long nail? Doesn't it get in the way?") So, as somebody who types during his waking hours, that seems unlikely, and easy to prove or disprove. Jewelry of some kind would work, though. Again, the best kind of speculation: Subject to disproof.

UPDATE As for the coincidences, they've got to happen sometime. That's why they're coincidences! And 1% or 2% isn't 0%.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

I don't know many dudes or women who haven't had a scare because a condom breaks. And sometimes you really can't tell if it breaks, particularly if breakage occurs a noticeable while after the session starts. I've heard broken condom stories many, many times, some quite hilarious on hindsight. Again, most people I talk to about such things have had a BC experience and I can guarantee you that it was not intentional in the vast majority of cases.

Whatever you think of this guy, BCs happen regularly. I personally have a hard time drawing conclusions based on a BC or even several BCs. If it was a regular occurance over an extended period of time using a variety of brands of condoms, then I'd question it. But definitely not on just a handful of incidents.

Submitted by lambert on

For me, not using a condom after a single statement by the partner that they should be used is completely dispositive. That's a much stronger argument than the deliberate tearing, since it's easier to prove, and even more important from the takeaway standpoint, it's about "principles not personalities."


Although caveats about the fog of intel apply. Caveat also that we don't know why Miss A believes what she believes.

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

Slightly more detail from the August 17 morning event:
"According to her statement, she said: 'You better not have HIV' and he answered: 'Of course not,'" but "she couldn't be bothered to tell him one more time because she had been going on about the condom all night. She had never had unprotected sex before."

my take is that Marianne Ny wants to prosecute the case because she thinks she can win. If the Guardian's redaction of the police transcripts is accurate, and especially if Ny is playing with any hole cards at all, then Assange is toast.
Though presumably prosecutors only prosecute cases they believe that can win and only about 10% of rape prosecutions in Sweden result in convictions (and many of the prosecuted cases contain far less ambiguity that this). Also, Assange is not yet even charged, though I'm guessing Ny will eventually do so. Also, what the Guardian has is apparently select leaked material (apparently leaked by someone in the prosecutor's office) - as opposed to the full transcripts and additional relevant material from the investigation. I'd heard that it was basically the material the prosecutors provided the Brits to support extradition, but I haven't seen this confirmed.

I am assured by my penis equipped friends that you can feel the difference when the condom fails.
Not in my experience, unless it's very large tear (i.e. when it really tears apart, then it's obvious).

it is within the realm of possibility that he did tamper with to ensure his own satisfaction
I'd agree that this is within the realm of possibility. He might, for example, have a fetish or be seeking to impregnate women (though as far as I know, he has only one child - a 20 year old son with his ex-wife). However, when men resist condom use (to "ensure satisfaction"), it is generally for other reasons - for which tearing a condom would not suffice.

hero with a dick of clay
Ellsberg and MLK come to mind.

if I were the desk officer on this, I'd be sitting back and chuckling at how Assange tied the noose round his own neck
Look up detailed histories of Ellsberg and MLK.

And if Assange, who surely didn't just fall off the turnip truck, wasn't concerned with dirty tricks from the moment he stepped off the plane, why on earth not?
Again, Ellsberg.

demanding or expecting sex without a condom is absolutely classic male entitlement.

Miss A calls Harold several times asking him to persuade Assange to take an STD test to reassure Miss W. Assange refuses. Miss A warns that Miss W will go to the police. Assange rejects this as blackmail.
Real jerk behavior. I think he has a defiance and stubborness response that contributed both to successfully founding Wikileaks and to refusing the testing demands here (especially when he perceived it as blackmail). Apparently he did ultimately consent to be tested, but clinics had closed for the weekend.

Submitted by lambert on

.... but the "defiance and stubborness" make me think of Asperberger's syndrome; some men gravitate towards technical work because of it; it's what happens with me when people try to allocate my time. Reading this popularized account, on thing that jumps out at me is "formal style of speaking", which reminds of the tone of Assange's BBC interview.

That's parallel to, and separate from, his creepy insistence on not using a condom [caveats]; that he should when the partner asks -- heck, the default setting is that the partner doesn't have to ask -- is just basic stuff that adults functioning in the world should get; that "entitlement" went out with button shoes, and a good thing, too. Film at 11; water is wet...

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

an excellent point that hadn't occurred to me (and should have). The incidence of Asperger's syndrome is extremely enriched among hackers (which Assange apparently started out as). It even has potential to go to things like ignoring a sexual partner (as W complained of) or, in theory, failing to use a condom under the circmstances described. It's been argued that Aspies have deficient theory of mind (i.e. understanding other people's minds - what it's like in other people's shoes), which can impair social and emotional reciprocity and empathy. My best friend is an Aspie, and she definitely struggles with these kinds of things. And the odd "formal speaking style" thing is definitely true of Aspies.

Submitted by wlarip on

Assange had refused to use a condom or had taken it off.

But Asperger's people usually aren't sneaky. They just don't see.

Puncturing or 'did something' with the condom is something else. I think that is the reason that the investigation seems to be focused there.

If Assange were to assert that he did puncture it and he did it because sex makes babies, that might be consistent with Aspergers.

It's also true that Asperger's sufferers improve with age and socialization. I'm not sure they get any better but they do learn how to play the game.

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

Lambert in being skeptical of the assertion that the condom was torn deliberately (in the case of A). And Asperger's would have no relevance for that (other than Assange potentially acting in clueless ways that could piss A off). But with the failure to attend to W, and not properly considering condom use from her perspective - Asperger's could be relevant.

Submitted by lambert on

... but not exculpatory. Guy's a grown-up. This is simple, basic stuff.

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

agree on that.

Submitted by lambert on

... the "something" was "did." See upthread for a detailed discussion of that issue between Aeryl and me. I think the verdict can be summarized as "not proven."

Note, again, that I'm doing the armchair psychologizing not to exculpate.

Pragmatically, putting on my talking points developer hat, I think it makes a heck of a lot more sense to focus on (the lack of) consent. Also, from the prosecutorial standpoint, I think that's much easier to prove. So I disagree that this is why Ly is focusing there. I think she has a strong case without it.

Submitted by wlarip on

of witnesses, investigators(and prosecutors) seem to almost always take the forensic route.

Ny would surely rather have an evidentiary certainty (although you can always find a scientist to dispute the conclusions of another scientist) than to have to depend on subjective assessments of the credibility of Assange and the victims.

As Julia.Williams pointed out, this will be a bench trial. Judges don't seem to care much for the term, 'hearsay'. Like you, they will be looking for a 'dispositive' fact and, if they are objective, they are pretty picky about what they will accept.

I haven't examined all of Assange's public pronouncements about the events in question, but if he has already admitted to a violation of Swedish law, then what can be ascertained from an examination of the condom may be unnecessary.

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

see comment to article by "Norwegian" at 12-21 20:11 who says "FOUL! The VG article says nothing of the sort! Read it yourself!"
The Stockholm News article is citing the Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang as the source of this information.
Verdens Gang article says (via Google Translate - machine translation caveats noted):
"In the report that the expert has written, it emerges that the condom has 'consistently injuries in the front part, with small scratches near the injury.' The injury should not be of such nature that it bears witness to the use of a tool [i.e. it's unlikely a tool was used], according to the person who has studied condom. 'Test results indicate that the damage in the front part of the condom coming off the condom is worn to pieces,' the report said....The report says nothing about the damage may be caused Assange handedly tried to destroy it, or it may have been caused as a result of an accident."

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

consent and W, one complicating factor is the sleep state and the complicated nature of transitions between sleep and waking. I’d previously mentioned my own experiences (waking up and surprised that my partner and I were in the middle of having sex). Friends have told me of similar experiences. Just to see how common this is, I googled it yesterday, and found tons of references to it in forums. Here’s a sampling (all of these are from posts made prior to the Assange case hitting the news – so completely unrelated to this case).

"I have friends in long-term relationships (married or otherwise) who report having woken up while having sex, and the other party was either also sleeping or waking up at the same moment. They chalked it up to their bodies and subconscious minds knowing certain patterns of behavior."

"If both parties are asleep during the sex, who raped who? Or if one party wakes up, attempts to wake up the other to have sex, and the second party appears to wake up and be respondent, but later claims to remember nothing of it, is that rape?"

"It's only been a few times but we both wake up 'doing something' and it's pretty exciting and yet both asleep. The next day we both joke..’you started it, no you started it first.’ lol Sometimes if I am half alseep and roll over touching him, it sometimes starts something."

"This also happened with my first husband. It was really cool, I would say because we both 'woke up together' having fun and it was a really fun experience."

"What I was saying is my partner has been asleep too when this has occurred. He is in no way sneaky, nor would wake me up when I was fast asleep to have sex. He doesn't even know it is happening himself. I'm just wondering if this could be possible in the OPs position also."

"ah Kelly, you stole my answer, or, we have the same answer, whatever. I love half asleep sex. Though it is a little disconcerting when you wake up and wonder 'Did I dream that or did that really happen?'"

"Though he is dead asleep. Most often he wakes fully half way through and we finish what has been started and go back to sleep like we would have hours ago. Sometimes this happens after we have already had sex that night. Often he doesn't remember it until I say something about it, a few times, some of the scarier times, he doesn't remember anything (I believe him). He said (vaguely)that happened a couple times with his ex-wife too."

"My husband wakes up in the middle of the night, when he is half asleep, and tries to have sex with me. Not all the time but it has happened before. He has never been forceful...I either want to do it , or I don't. I myself have had sex when I was half asleep, and have a hard time remembering it, but I still know I did. I guess it is normal"

"I have started sex while half asleep.. as in
She will wakeup and try to wake me up for something and I guess I assume she wants some and just start to kiss and rub and such and then When I become fully conscience Im having sex lol
and I cant remember how it really started all I know is im having sex now and afterwards shes like, I just wanted you to take the dog out with me, snuggle with me, etc etc.. hahah"

"That sort of thing happens all the time between couples who sleep together regularly, especially if the selected sleeping attire is either somewhat provocative or non-existant. Its quite normal to have those kinds of inclinations while vigorously sawing lumber, and recall may or may not be there, just like with dreams."

In contrast to the above types of situations - mounting and penetrating a prone unconscious body would be physically rather difficult, awkward, lacking in pleasure (unless you're a complete sadist), and I'd expect that it would be painful for the woman - causing tissue trauma/abrasion (and the transcript published here doesn't mention pain). So it’s obviously possible that occurred, but a situation of half-asleep sex with partial recall, such as the cases above, seems the more plausible scenario to me.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

Just because it happens often, doesn't mean its acceptable.

Second, reading, it seems most these comments above are about long term relationships. Or at least, I hope so. Considering my particular assault occurred multiple times during my sleep, I would be horribly triggered to awaken finding my partner engaging in ANY sex play on me, without being fully cognizant, though I. like the people above, used to enjoy it.

Of course, my partner is aware of this and doesn't do it. I doubt Mr. Assange had taken the time and effort to know such things about Miss W.

So even allowing that it could be acceptable amongst long term or prearranged consent* relationships, I still find it to be an abhorrent action in a recently consensual relationship. They key to consent is the ability to give it, and take it away. Mr. Assange didn't give Miss W the time or opportunity to take it away, muzzy consent or not.

*Based on my experience, it seems likely you found alot of those on BDSM sites, as they have a rather strong presence on the 'net, and such prearranged conditions are common.

To be honest, what Miss W describes is almost blow for blow, identical to what happened to me, though I reacted different(surprise, surprise). And, based on recitations of other survivors, it's very common. There's a reason that alcohol is involved on over 60% of rates, because it puts you in a stupor.

Submitted by lambert on

.... ".... taking the issue of consent while sleeping as read..." in the intro to the post.

The post on this issue is back there!

affinis's picture
Submitted by affinis on

zero of these were from BDSM sites. A couple were from a health board, one was from a relationship advice board, a couple were from a board for vegetarians, etc. It's not about BDSM. None of them mention alcohol. Alcoholic stupor is not what these people are describing. Obviously, alcoholic stupor is a completely different circumstance (with entirely different implications).

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

I still find the idea of a man, initiating sexual conduct with a rather unknown woman, with anything other than full cognizant enthusiastic consent, could still be considered acceptable, a rather disturbing one, however plausible.

And I was not alleging alcohol in any of the comments you collected. Just using it to bolster the argument that the raping of sleeping/nearly unconscious people is rather widespread, since its a very common tactic.

Submitted by hipparchia on

i've been thinking asperger's too. from the article you link to: Their preference for rules and honesty .... and They may be immature for their age and be naive and too trusting, ...

when i first saw the video with his comments on the climategate emails, it struck me that maybe he really does believe that all secrets -- great and small, personal, professional, and political -- carry the same weight, and that therefore all revelations are valuable.

the afghan war logs and iraq war logs are hugely important, and we owe a huge debt to both wikileaks and the guardian for them.

the climategate hack otoh was all about some global warming deniers trying to smear the climate scientists' professional reputations [and therefore silence them] and had absolutely nothing to do with making science 'more open'. assange does not [or did not, at the time of the video] seem to get this distinction.

Submitted by lambert on

I've got friends in my technical posse who feel exactly the same way -- "radical openness." If that's really true about Assange -- deeply settled into the armchair now -- then it makes the HIV hypothesis a lot less likely; wikileaks, as an enterprise, would function in his mind, for both partners, rather like uber-techie Ted Nelson's pendant in his anti-AIDS CheckMate proposal. (Caveat that this is a side issue, completely; examining a thought process isn't the same as endorsing creepy behavior [caveats] done in the name of entitlement.)

Submitted by lambert on

This right at the top:

Released 1904/251287

Gives the lie to the "indiscriminate release" talking point....