Saturday, October 5, 2013

Week 7: structure; Three Sample Profiles

Malcolm Gladwell's profile of Cesar Millan:


Joe P.'s profile of a baseball player you've probably never heard of:

'Well-Respected Citizen'

There are questions from the floor, and the issues are complicated. The first selectman stands to explain and to argue his point of view. He leans forward a little and gestures with his fist to emphasize certain points. His pale eyes pierce, his voice is a clear tenor, and his words are forceful, resolute, easily understandable to everyone in the overheated Grange Hall. Most people nod, understanding, accepting his logic. The man has command presence.

There is an occasional moment when he betrays impatience at someone asking a question he has already answered or even annoyance at another person disagreeing with a point he has made and nailed down beyond argument. But he is never less than in control, in charge, confident, and cool.


So, townspeople can imagine him as he stands in Waldo County Superior Court, making his plea to the judge; they can see him lean forward and gesture. He says, "I am here to protect my reputation. I am not a pedophile; I never have been and never will be. I am not a child molester. That's all I can say. That's not my lifestyle." He looks over at his daughter who is sitting with his accuser. Her eyes are red, but they are dry, and they do not, will not, meet his. He has no supporters now, no one who nods and agrees, who finds his words persuasive. But he does not quit. He looks back to the judge and raises his right hand. "I don't want to die with this blemish on my otherwise good record. That's the truth, so help me God."

His last words come out loudly, and then he subsides, a bent old man, 83, in slippers and dark green prison fatigues. His eyes do not leave the judge's face. She opens her mouth to pronounce sentence.

He waits to hear his fate.


Robert Warren Osborne: born 1922, Massachusetts; World War II veteran; Methodist Church deacon; Selectman, Swanville Maine; Selectman, Searsport Maine; President of the Maine Board of Realtors; land developer, businessman, insurance agent; husband, father, adoptive father.


Robert Osborne was a church deacon. A parishoner speaks: "He always made a point of being extra, extra friendly to my young son. He would use a bit of a strange, kiddie voice when talking to him. Enough so I thought it was odd but then reassured myself he was such a well-respected citizen he just loved kids and what a great guy."


Sometime in the early 70's, Robert Osborne picked up a hitchhiker outside Augusta, a grown man, a resident of Swanville.

They stop at a restaurant in Liberty. When the coffee has come to the table, Osborne asks, "How long have you been married?"

"Five years, Mr Osborne."

"Oh, call me Bob. How's it going?


"The marriage. Any problems? You know you can talk to me about it anytime." He smiles. "I'm an old married man. Anytime."

He insists on paying for the tuna sandwich and coffee and then drives the man to his door.

The land Robert Osborne plans to subdivide has a derelict red barn, in local legend a bootlegger's storehouse. One day in the mid-80s, the hitchhiker and his wife come down the hill on horseback. The door of the barn opens and Robert Osborne comes out followed by a boy of 10 or 12. The riders say hello, and Osborne says "Doing some fixing up in here.”

The riders say, “Well, good,” and ride on.

But when they are out of his hearing, they look at each other. The woman says, “What do you suppose they were up to?”

“Not our business,” answers the man.


His accuser, now 31, claims that the abuse began at age 5 or 6 when his uncle delivered him to Robert Osborne and continued until he was 18. The statute of limitations has put most of the alleged abuse beyond the reach of the law. In court, Osborne calls his accuser a thief, a liar, a fat little boy. He has explained to the jury that the oral sex with his victim only began after the boy was of legal age. He further explained he had no emotional attachment to the boy. But a jury of his peers has found him guilty of five counts of gross sexual misconduct for raping and sodomizing a child.

Judge Nancy Mills sentences Robert Osborne to twelve years in prison, all but three suspended, and newspapers reported that, with time off for good behavior and counting time served while waiting for sentencing, he would probably serve no more than a year at the prison in Windham. His appeal to the Maine Supreme Court was found baseless and turned down in 2007.


A recent Google search and a search of the local newspaper reveal no obituary for Robert W. Osborne. Nor is there a record of him in either the Maine or national sex offenders registry. A court recently ordered that the uncle who originally delivered the victim to Robert Osborne be forbidden contact with the victim's school age son.

Copyright (c) 2010 by John Goldfine

1 comment:

  1. Just so you know, the Posnanski link is not working for me.