By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
As Basinski later learned, Christina (formerly known as Eddie) had mortgaged her house to pay for a total of 10 surgeries by Brown. But according to legal documents filed by Running, the skin grafts that Brown used to line Christina’s vaginal walls were so thin that they tore during intercourse. When Brown removed Christina’s lower ribs to give her a narrower and more feminine waist, she subsequently developed an abscess as big as a basketball. Christina’s nose job turned out so poorly that she ended up with different-sized nostrils, one of which turned up like that of a pig. Christina complained to Brown that he’d made her vaginal entrance too small. But when Brown enlarged it, Christina felt he’d "ruined" her.
Today, Brown says he feels badly that he didn’t better explain the procedure to Christina. But when he called to tell her he was refunding $500, her mother told him that her son had just hanged himself in the garage. (According to Running, Brown took the news quite calmly, noting merely that "transsexuals had a high suicide rate.")
There was another patient, a genetic female named Mona, who had gone to Brown for breast implants and a face-lift. But Brown, says Running, accidentally cut a nerve in Mona’s face, leaving her with a crooked smile. Her implants also failed, causing her breasts to rot, turn black and leak a fluid that her boyfriend said smelled like "cat piss." Everything was so bizarre. Sometimes, says Running, when Brown dropped by to inject Mona with pain killers, he’d be wearing only one shoe.
Running’s most effective witness, perhaps, was Camille Locke, a bright and forceful woman who at times can be quite contentious. (Basinski says he got so mad at her in an argument over O.J. Simpson that he "wanted to punch her out.") Despite her strong personality, Camille is quite modest in her language and demeanor (when referring to a penis, she demurely calls it a "phallus").
Before her sex-change surgery, Camille had once been an insurance underwriter with clients like Caterpillar and International Harvester. But after surgery, she tells me, she was lucky to find a $5-an-hour job teaching brokers telephone sales.
When Brown did Camille’s sex-change surgery in November 1997, the operation took two hours. "He gave me an epidural," says Camille. "I woke up 10 minutes prior to the end of the operation. We started talking. Brown said, ‘We’re almost done.’ I wasn’t scared. I was happy as hell. I was finally getting what I wanted. When you are climbing Mount Everest, you don’t worry about a little frostbite on the top."
To keep her vaginal opening from growing shut while it healed, Brown gave Camille a phallus-shaped stent made of the same kind of foam used to cushion furniture. "He told me to put a condom on it. I had to hold it in place with little white bra straps. Otherwise it would fall out when I stood up."
After several days, Camille returned to her home in the San Fernando Valley to recuperate. There, to her horror, she developed a recto-vaginal fistula that caused feces to pour out of her vagina. "My bladder was blocked, my lymph glands swelled up and my skin turned yellow," she says. She was hiccuping constantly, unable to stand, and near death. "Black stuff was pouring out of my lungs, all my systems were shutting down. All I would have had to do is take one breath and let go." After five days, a friend found her lying in her own feces and drove her to the ã hospital, where the doctors took one look and said, "What the hell is this?"
The pain was so bad, says Camille, she was screaming at the top of her lungs for 24 hours straight. "They were giving me morphine every 15 minutes. I had an MRI and CAT scan. Six doctors were operating on me simultaneously. I had to have a [temporary] colostomy. They were ready to body-bag and toe-tag me."
Running knew such stories would have enormous impact with a jury — if she could only get the witnesses to court. "We were dealing with people who were very needy, very high-maintenance and sometimes petulant. Many were terrified that the community in which they live and work would find out. Carrie [another witness against Brown] once came to court wearing two wigs, sunglasses and her hair down over her face. "Gary [Stovall] leaned over to me — ‘Your witness looks like a sheepdog.’"
Defense attorneys have an old saying: When the facts are on your side, argue the facts. When you don’t have the facts, argue the law. And when you have neither the facts nor the law, pound the table.
And that’s exactly what Brown’s attorney, Sheldon Sherman, did, says Running: "He slammed his hand on my table at least 17 times. He screamed and slammed his hand, and spittle flew and caught me under my right eye. And he is frothing at the mouth at these ‘God-like doctors who won’t let Brown be a part of their club!’"