He was a judge during the dictatorship, abused girls and died unpunished: film tells his story and seeks to raise awareness
When L. found out that his father, the “distinguished” judge from Mar del Plata Edmund O’Neillwas denounced by the sister of one of his friends, he found out everything that had been hiding him for years: his friends stopped coming to his house, he did not answer his calls for a long time, and birthday invitations were answered with complete silence.
In 2004, L found out that a sister of one of her old friends had accused her father of what he had done to them. And as terror took everything, so it untied the knots. L found many of her friends and 12 of them said yes that they stopped seeing her and even left Mar del Plata because their father sexually abused them. Then the daughter of the abuser contributed to the cause with a dozen victims. But the file never prospered. Two years later it was closed. And a decade later, O’Neill died without paying for his crimes. However, he continues to be talked about because public condemnation is permanent.
So much so that his horrifying story – that of the untouchable – was turned into a film by filmmaker and feminist activist Susanna Nyeri. “something wrong” This is his first feature film. Based entirely on the story of an abusive magistrate, his daughter L. – played by Eleanor Wexler – and the victims, the film seeks raising awareness of the drama of child sexual abuse.
“I feel like with the film, a door opens that allows that pain to come through,” Nyeri tells the Infobae. The director, who has just made a series of documentaries always with women at the center of the subject, learned about O’Neill’s story when she read an article on Page 12 where journalist Mariana Carbajal exposed the case. It was in 2013, in the context of the Book Fair in Buenos Aires, when the judge was going to present his book “Sancho”, edited by Duncan, and as a result of the protests of the victims and the request for a waiver, the talk about the abuser was canceled.
“We hope this action will serve as social condemnation, because the case is closed due to the statute of limitations of the crime and so that other people who are victims of sexual violence file complaints in time, so that the cases do not go unpunished, “said Carolina, victim, molecular biologist and Conicet researcher on it this time.to the journalist. The same meaning now seeks to give the film “Something Wrong”.
“I found out about the case thanks to this news. He was making documentaries and the next thing he wanted to talk about was domestic child sexual abuse. And Mariana’s note just pops up. When I read it, I see that in this real case there were many traces, inscriptions, layers of what I wanted to talk about. For all my work on gender-based violence I know abuses are not just that. There’s a lot more: there is silence, complicity, justice that doesn’t work, families that look the other way. I wanted to talk about all that,” Nyeri says.
The 2004 complaint was filed by a Mar del Plata social worker because her two older sisters were sexually assaulted by the judge when they went to the house to visit L. At the time, O’Neill two granddaughters, 10 and 7 years, and the complaint has also been made so that they can investigate this relationship. Juvenile Judge No. 1 of Mar del Plata, at the time Silvina Darmandrail, ordered expert reports that did not find adequate evidence in relation to the granddaughters.
L.’s reaction to calling her friends caused a a network of women who survived O’Neill’s abuse. A few months later, the prosecutor in the case traveled to Buenos Aires to take statements from many of them. I was in that group Julia Ogeactress and lecturer at the National University of Kilmes.
She who lived in Ayacucho as a child, was abused at the age of 11 by the judge, a friend of his family. “The relationship I had was mediated because his wife was from the town I’m from and a friend of my father’s. At one point, my father had a relationship with him for work issues in Mar del Plata, and he often came to my house there,” says Auger. Infobae.
“The series is very great”, commented Julia and continued: “In my personal case, I told my parents then, who forbade him to enter. My father spoke to his sister-in-law and never wanted to see him again. But we lived in a society where no one interfered, everyone knew he was “long arm”but no one punched him, no one denounced him, it was a different time.
“Something Wrong” opens with L’s character’s birthday. The imagery is very symbolic of the time. The year is 1978 and a green Falcon is parked outside the door of the house. There is a soldier inside. also a priest.
“He was a judge during the dictatorship. I don’t get into party politics in the film, but it’s interesting that I make temporary marks. The question of time is important. What I want to show is that the man abused for 30 years. When the victims come together, there are three generations,” Nyeri explains.
Auger says that when they started getting together, there were women in their 40s, the age of L.’s childhood friends, but also in their 50s and even 60s. Many women didn’t want to talk. But it is known, it has always been known, that when O’Neill was a chambermaid at Necochea, she had to leave for abusing a woman. “He spent decades doing this. We calculated that at 24 he was already abusing women. And maybe he did it until his death”, says Yulia.
“I sat on my back and started telling stories and kissing my neck. And I started moving his genitals, quite violently. I used half a can. Edmundo would take them off, take off my panties and then I would feel like I was “getting dirty”. Now I know he ejaculates on my body. So I didn’t know if what got me wet and dirty was something from me, my body, or him. Then he cleaned me up very quickly and put my panties and stockings back on with great delicacy,” said one of the victims of justice, as Carbajal revealed at the time.
One of the women who testified in the case almost 20 years ago explained that she had discussed the abuse with her mother, but the response was for her to get away from O’Neill because he was “sick and out of control”. Another victim told the court the former judge groped his tail while the lights were out to blow out the family birthday candles. And that he was holding her steady so she couldn’t move, with one hand resting on her shoulder. This image was chosen by the director to suggest the abuse in one of the first scenes of Something Wrong.
“The film is not only about child sexual abuse, but it’s also about power, about hiding, and also about the network of women, about restore memoryNyeri explains.
“Survival casualties keep coming”Oge says. At the Mar del Plata preview, a survivor went with a neighbor who said she and her sister were also abused by O’Neill. This happened just a week ago. “And they will continue to appear. They were always girls, minors. He abused them from the age of seven, eight to 15″ adds the survivor.
“It’s over. The man died,” reflects Auger, who admits that he felt that “the film is the trial.” And he explained: “It happened to me in 1980. In 2004, I was able to testify. A prosecutor listened to me. But the film became a kind of process with social condemnation. And something that is very powerful is the word and the credibility in the word, especially when you are a girl. I would like this not to happen to any other boy or girl and to rethink adult-centrism. Children are subjects of rights and children’s words remain unheard. It is very difficult for a child to lie.
Auger admits that talking about O’Neill sends shivers down his spine: “I’m talking so it doesn’t happen again. For adults who had these situations in childhood to talk. Impunity lives in silence. As long as we adults can speak, this practice will be eroded. It’s something very huge and very everyday. The majority of cases of childhood sexual abuse are within the family.
Although he went unpunished, O’Neill came to testify in court. The judge did not dismiss the charges, but spoke with the prosecutor in the case. “I know I did something wrong, but I don’t feel guilty”, said. He died at the age of 86. Free of charge. In his house.