Tuesday, October 27, 2015

"In a Town this Size" covers a notorious, long-running and unprosecuted case of child abuse by a pediatrician in Bartlesville OK

In a Town this Size” (2011) is a straightforward interview-based documentary about child sexual abuse from a pedophilic pediatrician who practiced for years in Bartlesville OK.

The doctor, according to the film, finally got married to  a woman in 2008 at age 81 and is active in “conservative” causes, and has never been prosecuted.  It doesn’t appear that he has been successfully sued in a civil case.  Therefore, out of search engine wisdom, this review won’t give the name (IMDB does not), although the movie definitely does.  The abuse apparently occurred against both genders, but perhaps more boys.

We know from the specifics that the greatest amount of abuse must have happened in the 1950s.  The film is directed by one of the victims, Patrick Viersen Brown, who sometimes appears as a younger man in video (he would be in his 60s now, I think, but looks rather youthful still) discusses his own psychological damage, a tendency to sabotage his own relationships with women in adult life.

The doctor apparently used several rooms in his house, where he lived alone, and set up a “cat figure” shown in black-and-white, as a phantom figure in the dark out of a horror movie.

Litigation and prosecution became very difficult for several reasons, including statute of limitations (which would surprise me).

The film does point out that sexual orientation is established early and would precede abuse.  Many victims were abused repeatedly for years, with parents unable to grasp that this could even occur because of the temper of the times.

The pediatrician (who had served in the Navy before going to medical school) eventually lost his license to practice, and vomited and fainted when confronted, but still was not prosecuted.

The film is shot in minimal 4:3 aspect ratio.  It does show a lot of Bartlesville over the years, some in black-and-white home movies.

I passed through the city a few times when living in Dallas in the 1980s.  I remember a bus stop there when traveling to Los Angeles by bus (along famous Route 66) from Lawrence Kansas when I was a graduate student in 1967, and meeting up with a graduate student already working for Phillips Petroleum.

The official site is here (from Cat on the Wall Productions and First Run Features).  The film can be viewed free on Amazon Instant Play by Prime members, and on Netflix video.
At age 12, there was an incident where a "friend of the family" doctor examined me briefly and I objected (in 1956, in Washington DC).  But there was no pattern of repetition.

Wikipedia attribution for picture (click on image to see "commons" ownership and CCSA3.0 credits) of Price Tower in Bartlesville, below.  Other image (above) is mine from Arbuckle Mountains (2011).
Price tower

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