Years ago, before "sexual predator" became Political Correctness Bad Guy Number One, I bumped into a series of cases connected with young men emigrating to America from the Punjab region northwest of Delhi, India.
In the first case, an unmarried young man who had recently emigrated from the Punjab to southern New Jersey was pumping gas on the midnight shift when a very pretty 18 year old girl in a snug-fitting tube top drove into the station around 2:00 a.m. for a tank of gas.
The young man was very lonely, and much impressed with her comely appearance.
The girl thought to herself, "What a pleasant guy!" and looked at him and smiled at him in an ordinary American way as she told him that she wanted "regular."
Instead, she got something a little more "high octane" -- the young man reached into her car window and began fondling her breasts through her tube top!
The girl freaked-out, screamed, and drove with wheels screeching out of the gas station, to the local police station, and filed charges for sexual assault.
Bail was set at $5,000. The gas station owner was a cousin, and so he posted bail. I was retained as the young man's attorney. When I sat down with him with my translator, a woman from the Indian embassy in Washington, I asked him, "What happened? Why did you do it?" He answered, "She looked at me."
I asked, "Okay, then what happened?"
He responded, "She looked at me," with a tone suggesting, "What's the matter. Don't you get it?"
I persisted, "No, no, what I mean is, What happened so that you felt entitled to reach into the window and grab this girl on the breasts?"
Suddenly the translator, who was a Punjabi emigrant who came to America with her parents as a child, said, "Oh! I think I understand! Let me speak to him in our language!"
They went back and forth for a few minutes in the Punjabi dialect. Occasionally the translator inserted American colloquialisms like, "You idiot!" which he understood, and he looked very sheepish in response as she continued with a scold in Punjabi.
The translator then explained, "I only know of this. I never experienced it, because I grew up here in America. Do Punjabi girls stare at you, when you see them in stores?"
I said, "Yes. It looks like they are flirting with me."
The translator explained, "What is happening is that where he comes from, the girls must always look down when speaking to a man, because looking him the eyes is a signal which says, 'I am interested in you, sexually.' The Punjabi girls stare like that at you, because for them being able to stare at the men without inviting sex is a novel thing. American girls look at men when they talk to them, because here just looking at a man in the eyes does not mean, 'I want to have sex with you.' These lonely young men from northwest India forget where they are. When a girl drives in and looks him in the eye and asks for gas, he thinks, "Va-va-voom! She's looking at me! She is interested in sex!"
I burst out laughing. When the matter came to court, I asked the judge for an opportunity to conference the matter in the judge's chambers with the prosecutor, the victim and her family, the translator, my client and myself, and the judge present.
My client, the young man, looked terrified, and his hands shook very badly during the conference. This reaction only reinforced the impression that he lacked criminal intent.
When I gently explained what had happened on the night in question, and the translator very eloquently substantiated my explanation, the judge and the prosecutor were swayed, and discussed the matter with the family outside our presence.
The family consented to a "Dismissal Without Prejudice." What that means is that the case remained open, and that charges from this case would be added to charges from any new case if he got in trouble again, and he would be prosecuted in both cases -- a reasonable response to the circumstances.
To drive the point home, the judge screamed at him -- and I mean screamed -- in open court in a crowded courtroom, while the Defendant, shaking, cried.
But, he survived.
The next case occurred in a town only a short distance "up the Pike." Similar circumstances. Gas jockey, pretty girl, midnight shift. But this guy held out for weeks before he concluded, "She is looking at me! She loves me!" and then "turned amorous." One night the girl, very pretty but mechanically adept, opened the hood of her car and bent over and used a heavy pair of channel locks to remove a part from her engine to show him how the engine worked better without it. He walked up behind her and leaned his front against her behind, and reached around and grabbed her chest. She freaked out and pushed him away and slammed him in the face with the steel channel locks, and a policeman who had seen him lean against her that way and her reaction arrested the injured young man for sexual assault.
When the same Punjabi translator came up from Washington, D.C. for the case, she was puzzled at a second case so very much like the first. Because the girl had left the young man with a deep permanent scar from his forehead across his eye to his cheek, when we explained that the girl had been accidentally giving him Punjabi "go signs" for weeks she forgave him and asked that the charges be dismissed.
The third case was the worst. The girl was very pretty, very personable, and -- thank God -- very understanding. But she was married to a policeman! And, she was eight months pregnant at the time of the incident!
The girl and her police officer husband lived next to the gas station. She regularly went into the gas station mini-mart, and purchased household needs -- bread and milk and such -- and engaged the young man, whose wife was still back in the Punjab, in pleasant conversation. She said, "I was much taken with that guy's innocence! He seemed like such a good man!" She was well-endowed and otherwise very beautiful before becoming pregnant. After she became pregnant, she was even more "well-endowed."
She flew home to her mother's house in the Midwest for her baby shower. On her return, her husband picked her up at the airport after he finished working the second shift in his town as a patrolman. When they arrived back at the house next to the gas station and mini-mart, the eight-months-pregnant wife walked over to the mini-mart for some OJ. As she smiled pleasantly at her Punjabi gas jockey friend behind the cash register, he was feeling particularly lonely that night. His libido finally gave way. He thought, "SHE LOOKS AT ME SO MUCH! SHE MUST LOVE ME!" As she turned to go home, he reached over the counter, grabbed her boobs from behind, pulled the shocked girl over the counter and began kissing her madly on the lips as she flailed wildly.
From the driveway her husband saw his pregnant wife's flailing legs, thought, "Wha-a-a-at!" and ran over to the store with his gun drawn. He exploded through the door, screaming, "YOU BASTARD! GET YOUR HANDS OFF MY WIFE!"
He pulled his wife away from the shocked Punjabi, punched him very hard in the face, threw him to the floor, sat on him, and shoved the barrel of his his .45 into his mouth while he called on his cell phone for back-up.
I invited the wife and her police officer husband to the arraignment hearing -- the hearing where the indictment is read to the accused. When the translator came up from the embassy in Washington, and she realized that it was another "boob case," despite the seriousness of the charge she burst out laughing. She said, "We are going to have to do something about this, Mr. Dawson!"
The prosecutor knew me well, understood why I invited the victim and her husband to the arraignment, and agreed to let me and the translator speak to them alone in an empty courtroom. When I went over the facts with the translator, she said, "You are right. This is another one of those cases." The husband "wanted blood," but he listened carefully, with his wife, as the translator explained how cultural differences led to the man being enticed by the woman. "When they come over here to this county," she said, "They work 16 hours a day and send money back home to their families. That's it. That's all there is to their lives. They have no time to learn about this country and its culture and the language. They stay 100% Punjabi. When you were kind enough to talk to him, you innocently looked him in the eyes as you talked to him, the way we all do in America, and by that means you accidentally behaved in a way that in his part of India means, 'I may be pregnant, but I may be interested in having sex with you!'" I added, "Listen, it really was just circumstances, and your husband's response, based on what he saw, was 100% appropriate! But it was all really just a cultural misunderstanding. It really was. When cultures mix, it's 'oil and water.' The mix doesn't work out, and generates bizarre results."
The wife, to her credit, understood and relented. Over her husband's objections, she agreed to a plea to a greatly reduced charge, 5 years probation, and a $5,000 fine.
After that, the embassy caused the Indian government to require émigrés from the suspect sections of India to sit through lectures on American culture and American sexuality, to control the problem -- in effect, "IF AMERICAN GIRLS LOOK AT YOU AND SMILE, IT DOESN'T MEAN, 'I WANT SEX.'"
I haven't heard of any more cases of this sort in our area.