Harrises Insist Patty Was Unharmed
San Francisco Chronicle - Oct. 4, 1978, p. 18
"Patricia Hearst was not tortured, raped, assaulted, brain-washed, denied food or use of a toilet or any form of personal hygiene," William Harris claimed in a written statement to the Alameda County Probation Department that was released yesterday.
Harris and his wife, Emily, both concentrated on giving angry rebuttals to Hearst's claims of mistreatment rather than asking for any mercy before yesterday's sentencing for their part in the kidnaping of the newspaper heiress.
Here are some excerpts from William Harris' statement:
- "She (Hearst) was not locked alone in a closet except for brief periods of time for security reasons, and only then during the initial three weeks of her captivity. The door to the 'notorious' closet was, more often than not, open, and Hearst, after the initial couple of weeks, spent most of her time out in the room with her captors."
- ". . .We actually prepared better meals for her than what we ate ourselves. She was without exception treated with sensitivity, compassion and respect under the circumstances."
- "Patricia Hearst was not coerced to reject her family and was not forced to stay with us. . . We encouraged Hearst to return to her family because we all knew that to stay with us she would risk her life and freedom as well as our own."
- "Interestingly, the (Alameda County) grand jury testimony is not characterized by the same incredible horror stories that were the backbone of her testimony in San Francisco" -- where Hearst was convicted of participating in an SLA bank robbery.
"Thruout (sic) our lives Emily and I have abhorred violence. This has always been reflected in our behavior and actions. Neither of us has ever intentionally harmed another person."
Emily Harris' statement included claims similar to those listed from her husband, and added:
- In the early stage of the abduction, Hearst "suffered fear and discomfort. In fact, the SLA members who stayed with her were aware of how frightening the experience must have been for her and attempted to insure that all her basic needs were immediately met, that she was comfortable and we assured her there was no intention to harm her . . .
"She was in good spirits the majority of the time and was very friendly and outgoing to everyone she came in contact with -- much to our surprise I might add."
- "When the political objectives of Patricia Hearst's kidnaping were realized to the greatest extent possible, the subject and method of her release was discussed for several weeks in the middle of March, 1974.
"She related positively to the objects of her own kidnaping. She felt good that she had been the instrument that enabled large quantities of food to be distributed in poor communities. She felt attached in a personal way to the people who had kidnaped her.
"And she wanted to remain with the group as an equal member."
- "She, like any person, may feel in retrospect that she made a misjudgment. She may have doubts, regrets or whatever. But I cannot permit her to say, at Bill's and my expense, that she was coerced when we know differently."
The extent of Hearst's physical injuries, the Harrises said, was limited to "minor scratches on her legs which were treated."