Power to Hurt: Justice Served and Defeated

Darcy O'Brien, Author HarperCollins Publishers $24 (18p) ISBN 978-0-06-017959-5
In this well-reported but overstuffed true-crime tale, O'Brien (A Dark and Bloody Ground) tells of Dyer County, Tennessee, judge David Lanier, a local potentate who sexually abused and harassed female court employees for years. Using interviews with his victims, especially the troubled yet forthright Vivian Forsythe, plus details from the FBI investigators trying to break this delicate case, O'Brien ably lays out the closemouthed corruption of this Southern county. After the Anita Hill case made sexual harassment a national issue, the women were more willing to come forward; only during Lanier's federal trial did male investigators come to recognize that the women were both witnesses and victims. Lanier was convicted of federal civil rights violations in late 1992 and sentenced the next year to 25 years in prison. Given O'Brien's excess of detail early in the book, his sketchy epilogue describing the 1995 appeal that overturned Lanier's conviction is disappointing. Photos not seen by PW. Author tour. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1996
Release date: 03/01/1996
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