Marcia Clark Discusses How Being a Rape Survivor Led Her to Become a Prosecutor

Illustration for article titled Marcia Clark Discusses How Being a Rape Survivor Led Her to Become a Prosecutor

Marcia Clark, the crime novelist whose past life as the prosecutor in the OJ Simpson trial has attracted a large resurgence of interest, has given The Hollywood Reporter a great new interview that shows just how resilient and inspiring she truly is. And in it, she discusses what led her to become an attorney in the first place: an interest in the law that flourished after she was raped during a trip to Israel at the age of 17.


She wrote about it in her 1997 memoir Without a Doubt, says THR writer Stephen Galloway, but has “rarely discussed it since.” Here, she does:

“It was all girls, and there were two male waiters that were trolling us, serving our group but trolling us, and one asked me out and one asked my roommate out. I said no. I didn’t like the cut of his jib, you know? Always trust your gut, kids. I was tired, and they were going to this cafe. So I went back to the hut where I was staying, to lie down, and woke up to find him sitting on my bed.”

The man had broken into her room to watch her sleep; she details how it happened later, how he lured her to his room and it was violent; you can read her detail it in its entirety here.

Clark also discusses how it affected her mental health, that she despaired and buried it for many years until she, as a prosecutor, worked on a case with another young woman survivor of rape. (She frames it in the context of Scientology, which she dabbled in until 1980):

“She told me her story, and literally within 10 minutes of her leaving, I got violently ill,” says Clark. “Violently. It was really weird. Scientology, they’re right about that: They say that negative emotion and rekindling old negative memories can make you feel ill, physically ill, and it did. They say, ‘Release the charge, confront it and deal with it.’ And I had to go home within an hour. I had a fever of 102. It was around 1981, and my then-husband said, ‘OK, so what just happened?’ And I wound up telling him.”

The rape propelled her away from her dream of becoming an actress and into the law. After attending UCLA, where she majored in political science and international relations, she studied at Southwestern School of Law and then worked as a public defender for the city of Los Angeles before becoming a prosecutor.

“Once I started representing violent criminals, it became a different story for me, very real,” she notes. “And then I thought, ‘I really want to take care of the victims.’ “

Clark resigned from her job as a prosecutor after the defense won the OJ Simpson trial, and she describes going through a period of depression in part because of the negative, often misogynist media coverage of her as “a bitch” (recall the devastating American Crime Story episode that dramatized it all). Though she says in the Hollywood Reporter piece that she was despondent at losing the case, the media’s depiction of her at the time seemed to nudge that feeling over the edge:

Those first few years, after working on thousands of cases, many settled out of court, “It was like I had cut off my arm,” she says. “That’s who I was, a prosecutor. I really loved it. But I couldn’t do it — I was afraid to do it, even, because I was afraid I’d go into court and juries would either hate me or be unfairly sympathetic.”


Clark is doing just fine these days, she says in the profile, with four crime novels under her belt and two grown sons; she critiques the current system of mass incarceration and still thinks OJ is guilty. Also, despite her dalliances with Scientology in the ‘70s, she thinks L. Ron Hubbard, as a writer, was a hack: “It’s so amateur hour,” she tells THR. Read the full piece here.

Image of Clark in 2007 via AP.


JujyMonkey: unstable genius

She is an amazing woman. Man, I remember the really negative narrative of her during the trial and even as a dumb twentysomething dude, I always shook my head in disgust at it.

Anybody read her books? Any good?