Chantal Nugent was drugged, bound, and raped

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The story of Chantal’s rape is her account of events. All quotes are recorded as she remembers them.   Warning: this story contains graphic imagery and strong language. 

“Are you here for yourself, or to support someone?” A woman asked me. I turned around. Behind me stood a good-looking couple. The woman of the pair was stunning in a floral top with a plunging neckline, fitted jeans, and heeled sandals. Her boyfriend was tall, with a nice boy-next-door look, brown hair, brown eyes, kind face. But I bristled. “Neither.” I said and turned away. Why was I here at a club, by myself on a Friday night? Earlier, it made perfect sense. Grlcvlt , a “secret society,” was offering free drinks and a night of live entertainment in exchange for signing a petition to unseat Judge Persky, the California judge responsible for the light sentencing of Brock Turner in the Stanford rape trial. But now, alone in a sea of people, none of it made sense.

I sighed and turned back around. “I’m a freelance journalist. I deal a lot with this subject matter in my work. I’m here to cover the event.” A lie. I wasn’t writing at the time, I was severely depressed and at sea with my career. If I’d said I was there for myself, then I’d have to be myself, the sexually abused little girl tied to depression and shame unable to grow up and become anything.

Anyway, the two were unimpressed. They met my gaze with frozen smiles. Well, I’ve come this far, I thought. She must’ve wanted to talk about her rape or she wouldn’t have asked. So I asked. She did, and once I heard it, I finally had something to write.

Yes, that Nugent. As in, Ted Nugent.

Her name was Chantal Nugent. Yes, that Nugent. As in, Ted Nugent. And in May of 2015 she was, drugged, raped, bound, and raped again in an apartment downstairs from her own. With electric green eyes, wild, honey blonde hair, and a lean, muscular frame at 32, she was Nugent’s spitting image.

Born Chantal Johnson, to Eva Johnson, a  paranoid schizophrenic, Allen Johnson, Chantal’s uncle, brought Chantal into his home in Santa Ana, California. His wife kept Chantal close, not, it felt to Chantal for safety, but for control. Boisterous, loud, expressive and unruly, Chantal’s adopted mother treated her harshly, working tirelessly to subdue her. Chantal felt she was hit more frequently and grounded more often than her brother’s and sisters. She spent a lot of time, crying, in her room. She prayed for a big family who would love unconditionally.

When she turned 24, Allen Johnson revealed her adoption. “It came as a shock and it explained a lot.” Chantal said. “Well, I always said, ‘This isn’t fair. Why don’t you love me?’ I didn’t feel a part—basically I was always different from everyone else.” Initially the knowledge threw her into emotional chaos. But, like the heroine in a children’s book who wished on a star, the discovery of her adoption would lead her to the fulfillment of her deepest desire—a big family who loved her for her loud, silly, at times outrageous, always celebratory self.

Chantal’s mother Eva, a stunning model in her youth, had flings with various rock stars in the 80’s. Now, with her schizophrenia in full bloom, Chantal found untangling the truth from her web of delusions nearly impossible. Her mother had her believing, for a time, that her real father was Eddie Van Halen.  Chantal came very close to contacting him until a sushi lunch, with her mother, revealed someone else entirely. In a passing moment of clarity Eva floated Ted Nugent’s name almost as an afterthought. Allen Johnson wouldn’t confirm or deny anything. According to Chantal he said, “There’s no reason for you to learn who he is, or know who he is.”

“I’ve been waiting for you to contact me.”

One evening, as  Chantal watched Fox News, she saw Ted Nugent for the first time. “But I don’t normally watch Fox News” she said. “It was just on. Loud. And I hear a word like Ted Nugent and I go in the living room. He was wearing a hat. He was talking about politics. And I was like, is that him? Is that my dad?”

A Google search led her to Doug Banker, Nugent’s longtime manager and friend. When he heard her name Banker said, “I’ve been waiting for you to contact me.” Chantal’s mom had sent him pictures of Chantal growing up. Nugent had known about Chantal all along.

Chantal was angry. She felt rejected and abandoned all over again. But Nugent flew her to his estate in Michigan and when he saw her, threw his arms around her. “He did tell me that he didn’t have the finances or support that would allow me to be brought up in an environment that he thought was best for me,” she said. “He had lost all this money from the management. It wasn’t Doug back then. Basically he was broke the year I was born.”

Chantal is one of four illegitimate children Nugent sired at the peak of his career, Ted Fleetwood Nugent, Louisa Elers Savarese, and Heather Holland. The four of them have expanded Nugent’s tribe to seven children. They come to Nugent’s home for Thanksgiving, attend one another’s major life events, and meet up for a sibling vacation in a different city every year.

A few weeks before she moved in, Chantal met a downstairs neighbor. I’ll call him, “Johnny.”

Chantal’s next major life shift occurred when she moved from Orange County to Los Angeles in May of 2015 to pursue acting. She found an apartment in North Hollywood, and like most first apartments, for those brand new to Los Angeles, it was a dump. A rickety and warped wooden fence separated the property from the street. The orange trees were half dead from drought. The lawn was merely a patch of dirt. White paint peeled off the small building.

A few weeks before she moved in, Chantal met a downstairs neighbor. I’ll call him, “Johnny.” Johnny appeared to live with his girlfriend. When she was out of earshot, Johnny asked Chantal if she had a boyfriend. “Isn’t that your girlfriend?” Chantal snapped.

“Oh, no, she’s just a friend.” He said.

“Well, let’s get something straight, I am not going to go out with you. I am never going to go out with you. It’s never going to happen.”

When she met him he had two shot glasses of clear liquid already poured. “Vodka or tequila?” He asked.

But she did go out with him. Her first night in her apartment, she ran into him in the common area. She was excited. She wanted to celebrate and with no one else around, she figured, why not? She’d already established she wasn’t into him. He had a girlfriend. She thought he was safe.

“I’ve got everything situated,” she told him.

“Hey, when you want, let’s go out,” he said. “I’ll show you the town. I’ll show you the area. There’s a cool bar down the street. Let’s text each other tonight.”

She chose the time and place to meet, six o’clock in the common area. He asked if she wanted to get drinks before they ate. She agreed.

When she met him he had two shot glasses of clear liquid already poured. “Vodka or tequila?” He asked.

“Vodka,” she said.

They clicked shot glasses and just as they were about to shoot them she asked, “Did you put something in this drink?” He said no. She believed him. They went to his car. The bar was not more than five minutes away, which she thought was strange. They could’ve walked. Inside the air was thick with the dank and cloying smell of stale beer and cheap liquor, “a real shit hole.” It was open mic comedy night and, like something out of a David Lynch film, four comics stood in the shadows ready to step into the spotlight as they faced a room full of empty chairs.

Johnny and Chantal sat at the bar and he ordered her a drink. It was strong. After two sips, Chantal’s heart beat hard. It felt like it was going to come out of her chest. She snapped a blurred photo, posted it to Instagram and wrote “Holy Shit!” Alcohol had never made her feel like that. When the comedy began the two moved to one of the tables. She was losing control. She drank more of her drink and cheered, loudly, for the comedian onstage, so loudly another guy came over and shushed her.

Her next sensation was that of a, “penis inside of your vagina.”

The comedy acts finished and Johnny asked her what she wanted to do.“I don’t know. I’m here. I just moved in. I’m excited. I’m going through a divorce,” she said. The next thing she remembered they were playing  pool. Johnny ordered her another drink and as she talked to other guys, she finished the third of the evening. She felt like she could fall asleep right there. She couldn’t feel her feet. She stumbled out onto the sidewalk and into Johnny’s car. As she settled into the passenger seat she passed out.

Then she recalled stumbling around white walls, holding onto them for support. She felt severely dehydrated. She found the bathroom, looked at the toilet, and fell. “I remember falling. And I remember hearing like clunk sounds. You know the sound that you hear when you fall like on a thing. I remember just falling.”

Her next sensation was that of a, “penis inside of your vagina.” Confused, she imagined it was her husband inside her. But as her eyes focused, she saw it wasn’t his face, it was Johnny’s, with a shit-eating grin.

And immediately I keep pushing him off. I’m pushing hard—really hard cause he’s inside of me without a condom mind you. And pushing me, pushing me, pushing me. And I’m pushing him. I’m pushing him off. I’m pushing him off. And i push him off so hard, because at that point, I think I’m using my legs because I push him so hard that I’m actually standing up. I’m naked. I push him off so hard that I’m standing up. Not only push him, but I start fisting him. Like this on his chest. I remember screaming and yelling that I said, stop it! Stop it! I remember screaming so hard that part of my body felt numb. It was like I felt like my soul just wanted to grab him and kill him. I mean like my body wasn’t there. I just wanted to fight. And then all of a sudden he holds me and he said, everything is ok and then I started crying.

Chantal blacked out once more and when she woke this time her hands and legs were bound to the bed.  Johnny was fingering her, violently. She stopped fighting. She didn’t have the strength. After the night’s horrors, she woke to the sounds of a camera shutter clicking wildly as she sat naked, slumped over the edge of her attacker’s bed. Johnny was photographing her.

She found her clothes on the floor and fled the scene.

Chantal’s body throbbed. Her limbs felt like liquid. In her apartment, she spent the day vomiting violently, but she didn’t call an ambulance. She didn’t trust anyone. As Chantal lay in her bed, the night’s events played again and again like fragments of a film she barely remembered. She needed answers. “I was telling myself, he can’t get away with this. I need to know what happened and why is he taking these pictures.” So she did what most would not, she went back down to her rapist’s apartment. The door was open. He sat in his easy chair, watching TV and enjoying a milkshake.

“What the fuck? What happened?” She asked.

“Man, you were all over the place last night.” He said.

“Why was I all over the place?”

“Yeah, you were just stumbling everywhere, holding walls, you were going in every room. You were like all over the place.”

“OK. Was I in the bathroom?”

“Yeah, I think you wanted to shower because when I went in you were naked.”

She let that go. She only remembered falling in the bathroom and him photographing her.

“Did you drink? Because you’re drinking your shake fine right now.”

“Oh, no. I’m so fucked up.”

“You don’t look it. I look worse.’

“Yeah, you were just like all over the place.” He wasn’t giving her anything.

“Were you taking pictures of me?”

“Yeah.”

“Can I see them?”

He retrieved the camera from its case and turned it on. She expected to see pictures of her of the edge of the bed. Instead she saw herself naked on the floor and unconscious, her limbs splayed out. She panicked. She couldn’t believe it. She didn’t know how to react.

“Can you erase those?”

“Yeah,” he said. He made no movement.

“Can you do it now?”

He hesitated. She stared him down. Then he erased them one by one. She left.

The specifics of that night returned in pieces over the next six months. 

There are several different drugs known as “date rape drugs.” Everyday more are released onto the market which means crime labs can’t recognize them. The known drugs, rohypnol, gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid or GHB, and ketamine have been the most commonly used by predators in the past.

GHB is a narcotic sedative which also enhances performance.  Smaller amounts lead to a feeling of relaxation. Larger dosages of GHB cause severe dehydration, nausea, vomiting, muscle spasms, a deep sleep, a clinically comatose state and even death. We’ll never know for certain, but Chantal’s record of that evening could be a textbook account of a GHB sexual assault. Her sudden excitement during the comedy acts, extreme sleepiness, disorientation, blackouts, vomiting, and severe dehydration all point toward more than just an alcohol overdose.

The specifics of that night returned in pieces over the next six months. When Chantal went to her nearest Planned Parenthood for an STD screening she told them she’d been raped. They referred her to law enforcement in North Hollywood. The detectives there, a man and a woman, laughed at her. The male detective said all the things law enforcement officials say to rape victims they don’t believe. “Did you have sex you now regret?” Of the photos he said, “But you’re an actress and a model right?” In the end, even her calls to the Assistant District Attorney were rebuffed. No report was ever filed.

Justice, for Chantal, will never mean a trial. But that doesn’t mean she has to stay silent. She refuses to have a secret. When victims of sexual assault keep their shame a secret, it rots their lives from the inside out. One victim of childhood sexual abuse put it this way, “I’ve kept this secret for forty years and it has nearly destroyed me. I don’t know what is better, to tell people and have them look at me with pity and disgust, or to keep the secret and die from the inside. I guess I decided the latter was better.”

But not for Chantal. The weight of that secret is far too heavy. Every time she tells the story she relieves herself from more of its burden. In an email she said this.

I have been thinking more and I am ok with you putting my name on your article. I remember you saying you wanted to protect me and my loved ones. I feel the need to not feel “hidden” if that makes sense. My loved ones support me through all this and the only person that would be in fear is me and I am not scared. In fact, I think this would set me free even more by you mentioning my name. I can’t explain it more but it is how I feel. This is my life and I am not scared of it. So go ahead and use my name and set me free.

The Multiple Lives Of Sergeant Tom Dewar

Dewar and Workman last day of Strong Eagle III.

“We finally got the wounded out on the first day and uh, we’re like holy crap, when is this going to be over? When’s the mission going to be over? And we stayed there. It went on day after day. It just became so like, we’re never leaving this place. Just kill as much Taliban as you can. It never got better. I prayed to God, please don’t rain. Please don’t rain. And then it rains. And then it snowed and then it hailed.”

This is 23 year-old Thomas Dewar, Sergeant in the US Army 101st Airborne Division, 1st Brigade, Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion. He fought two tours of duty in Afghanistan, the first, 2010-2011, the bloodiest year on record.

We’re sitting in a sunny café facing the San Gabriel Mountains. Patrons chat happily as they drink their cappuccino’s. Dewar could be any all-American boy. Sandy blonde hair, sun-tanned skin.

But look more closely and his body tells a different story. Muscles coiled, eyes darting, a double blink, an involuntary twitch.  His injuries may not be  visible, but they’re debilitating at times. A door slam makes him run for cover. Rain throws him into spasms of depression. When he looks at the mountains he once played in, he scans for Taliban. He never slept more than a two to three hours a night his entire two years of duty. When he wasn’t under enemy fire, he suffered torrential downpours, or oven-like temperatures.

The worst of it was Strong Eagle III. But we’ll get to that.

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Women’s Appendages

These are women's appendages. The ones our country grows back when women's voices carry more value than our our bodies.

Obsessed with Prince since his passing, each morning I awoke with an ache so heavy it was hard to breath. His death stole the possibility of something for me. Something I’ve been chasing since. In the dark moments before dawn, as I once rose to study scripture, I opened my phone to read every story on Prince— as if more information might reveal more, lead me into his presence. It only blurred the edges of him further.

His belief in conspiracy theories. His recent celibacy. His mercurial relationship with scheduled meetings, time, and saying goodbye. One never seemed to know if he’d show up or when he was gone, if he was gone for good. In his penetrating Prince biography, I Would Die 4 U, Touré recounts the time he interviewed Prince at Paisley Park. Abruptly, Prince left him without saying a word. Touré waited for him to return. Finally someone came out and told him it was time to leave. Prince didn’t do goodbyes.

Today I finally stopped. My obsession soured to disgust. I’d become a cliche. One of those middle-aged women in the office with Twilight posters pinned to the walls of their cubicles. Continue reading

No Place For Alice

alice-in-wonderland-30327__340A former student wanted help breaking into the entertainment industry. Her plan included calling studios and setting up appointments with studio executives.

I’m mystified why people imagine they can navigate the entertainment industry with ease. Particularly my students. Haven’t I warned them enough? Didn’t I tell them repeatedly they need a body of work before they come to L.A.? And none of it matters if they don’t have the right introductions. And none of that matters if they don’t have the right experience.

Make your own path, I pled. Shoot your own films. Get a presence that draws talented people to you. Then network the hell out of yourself. Continue reading

Cicadas in the sorrow of night

IMG_0221Cicadas buzz in the sorrow of night. Late summer heat and humid fear vibrates on my skin. Insomnia breeds paranoia and terror.

Dad’s gone. Two days left of this visit. My first one back since his death. This is not a night, or a day, but an in between. A purgatory. I remember another sleepless night in this bed a year ago. They’d found the cancer that killed him in the frozen dead of winter. We were hopeful then. We sat at dinner, over Mom’s vegetarian bbq. He was in a good mood as they discussed the spot on his pancreas.

God would heal.

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To The Victor Go The Spoils of Truth

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I read somewhere that the  personal essay is anti-journalism. It is a subjective exploration of self that cannot be verified by another source. The reader therefore cannot trust the writer’s voice. I read this and stopped writing personal essays for a time.

All my life I’ve wrestled with a different truth than my family’s. I grew up in a different house than the one my mother created. I wrote about it in an essay for The Weeklings.

When it was published I shared it on Facebook. It was the last piece of writing I ever shared there. It was about two years before I could write anything again.  It hurt everyone I loved, a classic case of he said/ she said. If the events in question ever went to court, I’d lose. There isn’t a shred of evidence. Continue reading