LOSING IT

"They said all of this information would be held in the strictest confidence. This did not happen to be the truth."
Within 48 hours, the police had traced fingerprints found at the crime scene to bunk number 52, Sidney Timberlake's bed, at the CASS homeless shelter at Ninth Avenue and Madison.

Timberlake, who'd already skipped the state, was a suspect in a series of savage rapes in which all the victims, except Hillya, were women between the ages of 63 and 90.

A sexual assault supplement prepared by detectives quoted an acquaintance of Timberlake, ". . . Sidney was saying he had committed the rapes out of revenge . . ."

What possible vengeance could a young man be seeking against elderly women?
@rule:
@body:Part of Hillya's difficulties are rooted in her reluctance to accept counseling, an attitude that sprang, full blown, the night of the assault.

"There was this volunteer from CASA [Center Against Sexual Assault] who came to the hospital and she was like, 'Oh, you poor thing. I won't leave you.'

"And I felt, 'Won't you please just get out of the room. I do not want to deal with this right now.'"
For those who met Hillya in the coming years the question would eventually become not when would Hillya Mooney deal with the rape but, rather, would she ever confront the issue.

"One of the counselors I spoke with wanted to know how I dealt with the rage. Her daughter had been raped and left stark naked in the desert. The girl's now an alcoholic who just wanders aimlessly. The mother decided to become a counselor. I was surprised by the number of people affected by rape and destroyed by the anger. You could see that in the faces of the elderly women who were videotaped for Timberlake's trial. I do not have hate or anger. Mostly I feel pity over the absence of a spiritual aspect to their lives."
Hillya's sorrow was always channeled toward others. And right from the start, she found plenty of other people in need of her pity.

"I called a friend from the hospital to pick me up, but he just did not want to get involved. This was a religious person. He had studied to be a Jesuit and then dropped out before taking final vows. I told him I prayed for Sidney and his response was: 'That guy's a psycho. Have you lost your mind?'"
When she got back home, some neighbors were sympathetic, but others questioned Hillya. Some even blamed her.

"'Why didn't I have a gun or knife,' they wondered. There were one or two women who insisted to me, and never relinquished their insistence, that I must have known the man. He knew me. I knew him. Why else would he be in my house? It didn't matter what I said."
Speculation that Hillya had not been a victim at all but instead a willing sexual conquest of Sidney's was fueled when Timberlake's attorney filed papers informing the court that "consent" would be part of his defense.

Police sources call this legal strategy obscene, pointing out physical evidence proved that Timberlake forced his way into Hillya's home.

I sit listening to her, amazed that none of these appalling responses from her friends, neighbors, even Timberlake's lawyer, infuriates Hillya. She is not even upset. She explains to me that her composure in the face of such seething insults to the spirit by--in her own words--"these poor people," is the result of her Christian values.

And this, I believe, is part of the problem.
Hillya's piety is troubling. Though she has talked with passion about Jesus Christ, I later learn from others that Hillya often wore a yarmulke to services in a Catholic shelter where she eventually resided. Subsequently, a staff member at Jewish Family Services tells me that she was informed by Hillya that Mooney left the Catholic shelter when the staff there interfered with her Judaism.

This isn't necessarily surprising.
When she had a vision of Jesus in the middle of her own rape, but could not hear her Christ offer a single, soul-soothing word of salvation, I wasn't startled to discover that this woman of deep reverence moved beyond the narrowly defined borders of Baptist theology.

But Hillya's pantheism is the skeletal framework of her homelesssness, because Mooney's gods have shriveled the flesh-restoring power of outrage. She does not have the bitterness of gall for motivation; she has faith.

Nonetheless, Hillya is so aware and vital and normal during her repeated visits that I remain mystified: How did this worshipful lady move from the classrooms to the streets?

If Hillya Mooney was incapable of unleashing her anger at Sidney Timberlake, she was also no longer able to cope with life itself.

The most serious shredding began in her home.
Hillya Mooney moved into her house during the city's hottest summer on record. When the thermometer hit 122 degrees, planes were actually grounded at Sky Harbor Airport, unable to lift off in the desert's blast furnace thermals. Hillya's air conditioning broke down, igniting a dispute with the landlord that pre-dated the rape.

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