Men in My Town

A boy is raped in Lincoln. His assailant is murdered in Providence. No one has ever been charged with the crime…someone got away with murder.

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on November 26, 2011

A boy is raped in Lincoln, Rhode Island. His assailant, beaten to death in Providence. No one’s ever been charged with the crime. Someone got away with murder.

My name is Keith Smith. I was abducted, beaten and raped by a stranger. It wasn’t a neighbor, a coach, a relative, a family friend or teacher. It was a recidivist pedophile predator who spent time in prison for previous sex crimes; an animal hunting for victims in the quiet, bucolic, suburban neighborhoods of Lincoln, Rhode Island. I was able to identify the guy and the car he was driving. Although he was arrested that night and indicted a few months later, he never went to trial. His trial never took place because he was brutally beaten to death in Providence before his court date. 36 years later, no one has ever been charged with the crime.

“Smith has delivered a gripping, fast paced crime story, a captivating suspense novel inspired by actual events. It’s a true ‘someone got away with murder’ story you can’t put down; a story that will stay with you long after you finish reading Men in My Town.”

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The story of the abduction, beating and rape of a teenage boy from Lincoln, Rhode Island, followed by the unsolved brutal murder of his assailant in Providence, is now a moving novel written by the man who survived this vicious attack.

Men in My Town by Keith Smith. Based on Actual Events.  Available now at Amazon.com in Paperback and Kindle.

Email the author at MenInMyTown@aol.com

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Keith Smith, Stranger Abduction Sexual Assault Survivor Discusses 5 Steps We Can Take to Keep Kids Safe.

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on February 24, 2011

Just click this link to Blog Talk Radio to hear the live interview covering my experience as a Stranger Abduction Sexual Assault Survivor plus “Five Steps We Can Take to Keep Kids Safe.”

1. Know the Facts about Childhood Sexual Assault

2. Know the Signs

3. Know What to Do

4. Know Where to Go

5. Know What to Say

Keith Smith, author of Men in My Town, is a Stranger Abduction Sexual Assault Survivor and a Keynote Speaker on issues of child safety. He’s available as a speaker for conferences, seminars and fundraising events benefiting non-profit organizations, government agencies, companies and professional associations dedicated to helping children who have been sexually abused. 

The story of the abduction, beating and rape of a teenage boy from Lincoln, Rhode Island, followed by the unsolved brutal murder of his assailant in Providence, is now a moving novel written by the man who survived this vicious attack.

Men in My Town by Keith Smith. Based on Actual Events.

Available now at Amazon.com in Paperback and Kindle.

Email the author at MenInMyTown@aol.com

Healthy Place Mental Health TV calls Smith’s interview, “One of the most powerful interviews I have watched.”

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on November 27, 2010

 

THE COURAGE TO SPEAK OUT

Healthy Place Newsletter, November 24, 2010 – This week’s Healthy Place Mental Health TV Show is one of the most powerful interviews I have watched. For several days, I couldn’t put my finger on exactly why that was. Then it struck me. I was amazed by our guest’s courage.

For 35 years, Keith Smith kept the secret of his rape from all but a few. He lived with recurring nightmares, fears, and the shame that comes along with a horrible thing like rape.

Over recent time, Keith decided to unveil his secret. “It’s time to speak out to raise public awareness of male sexual assault, to let other survivors know that they’re not alone and to help survivors of rape and violent crime understand that the emotion, fear and memories that may still haunt them are not uncommon to those of us who have shared a similar experience.”

I hope you’ll watch this show. I found there was something very haunting about the power of Keith’s message and how he came to it. See if you feel the same way.

See Keith’s live interview exclusively on Healthy Place TV, America’s Mental Health Channel.

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Keith Smith, author of Men in My Town, is a Stranger Abduction Sexual Assault Survivor and a Keynote Speaker on issues of child safety. He’s available as a speaker for conferences, seminars and fundraising events benefiting non-profit organizations, government agencies, companies and professional associations dedicated to helping children who have been sexually abused. 

Here’s Keith’s story.

Keith Smith talks about Childhood Sexual Assault

“At the age of 14, I was abducted, beaten and raped by a stranger. It wasn’t a neighbor, a coach, a relative, a family friend or teacher. It was a recidivistpedophile predator who spent time in prison for previous sex crimes; an animal hunting for victims in the quiet, bucolic, suburban neighborhoods of Lincoln, Rhode Island. I was able to identify the guy and the car he was driving.  Although he was arrested that night and indicted a few months later, he never went to trial. His trial never took place because he was brutally beaten to death in Providence before his court date. Thirty five years later, no one has ever been charged with the crime.”

“Out of fear, shame and guilt, I’ve been silent for over three decades, sharing my story with very few people. No more. The silence has to end. What happened to me wasn’t my fault. The fear, the shame, the guilt have to go. It’s time to stop keeping this secret from the people closest to me, people I care about, people I love, my longtime friends and my family. It’s time to speak out to raise public awareness of male sexual assault, to let other survivors know that they’re not alone and to help survivors of sexual abuse and violent crime understand that the emotion, fear and memories that may still haunt them are not uncommon to those of us who have shared a similar experience.”

___________________________________________________________________

The story of the abduction, beating and rape of a teenage boy from Lincoln, Rhode Island, followed by the unsolved brutal murder of his assailant in Providence, is now a moving novel written by the man who survived this vicious attack.

Men in My Town by Keith Smith. Based on Actual Events.  Available now at Amazon.com in Paperback and Kindle.

KEEPING CHILDREN SAFE – Author returns to Lincoln to do just that

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on November 12, 2010

by JON BAKER                                                                                        Monday, November 8, 2010

LINCOLN — One would think the last place Keith Smith, even in adulthood, would want to visit is his hometown.

After all, this is the place where — at age 14 — he had been abducted, beaten and raped by a warped pedophile who had a penchant for violence and sexual abuse against children.

On the contrary, Smith indicated he reveled in his return to Lincoln on this October night. Surrounded mostly by close friends during his childhood and teen-age years, Smith explained to his audience the happenings of that horrifying night — March 1, 1974 — and why he kept it a secret for over three decades.

More importantly, he wanted to use his experience — including the crimes against him and how he had come to write a book entitled “Men In My Town” — to educate adults as to how they may help their own children and grandchildren avoid such wrongdoings.

There he stood, in front of old pals such as Lt. Col. Denis Riel, Tim Tapley, Mary Catherine Dalton and Arthur Jacques in a Courtyard Marriott conference room, offering his presentation, called simply “Reasonable Steps We Can Take To Keep Children Safe.”

Smith talks about the necessity of having background checks on all personnel working with children in extracurricular activities, sports programs and summer camps during his program in Lincoln. TIMES photo by BUTCH ADAMS.

“You know, I’ve wanted to host a formal event in Lincoln ever since I published ‘Men In My Town’ (in March 2009),” he stated after the program. “Although I moved away in 1982, Lincoln has always been home to me.

“In the past year, I’ve told my story to newspapers and magazines, hosted public readings (of the book) and discussed the ‘Reasonable Steps’ on radio and television programs,” he added. “I wanted to return to Lincoln, to where my secret started, to put an end to my silence; to tell my story to friends, family and fans; and offer hope to others who have shared a similar experience of sexual violence.”

Smith read the first two chapters of his novel, inspired by own facts of his abduction, then discussed rather scary statistics before driving home his five basic steps. They included “Know the facts;” “Be aware of the signs;” “Be aware of what to do;” “Know where to go;” and, finally, “Know what to say.”

Beforehand, though, Smith provided attendees some details behind that hellish crime. He talked about how he had been “thumbing” home after a hockey coach’s meeting at his barber shop that night, and felt guilty because he knew he shouldn’t have been. Once the assailant picked him up, and the youngster figured out something was seriously wrong, he tried to escape from the front passenger door, but the criminal had rigged the locking mechanism.

Likewise, he maintained he felt shame because he didn’t try hard enough to fight back.

He then explained to the audience that he had discovered via a newspaper article that his assailant had been beaten to death in August 1975, and police never did solve the murder.

“I sincerely believe that he was killed because of what had happened to me,” he noted. “There was a chance he could’ve grabbed another kid. People in the business told me he had been arrested (for similar crimes) a number of times, and I’m concerned he would’ve killed someone to stay out of jail if not for me.

“Why did I break my silence? I couldn’t take the fear, guilt and embarrassment anymore. Two years ago, I hit the wall. I jumped out of bed one night, from a sound sleep, literally screaming for help. That guilt was killing me, and that guilt came to an end that night. Was I guilty because I hitch-hiked? No! Because I didn’t fight hard enough? No!

“You’ve got to get to a point where you understand the guilt is misplaced — no more,” he continued. “Rape is not about sex, but a random act of violence. I’ve met hundreds of men, women and children who had been repeatedly attacked for weeks, months and years by people who were supposed to protect them. What happened to me was a random act of sexual violence.

“I’ve talked to a lot of guys, and explained I had a predator with a rigged car driving down Smithfield Avenue, I’m a 14-year-old hockey player with a thumb out to get a ride, so (the situation) is like a lion seeing a wounded gazelle.”

**

The author, now 51 and living in New Jersey with his family, revealed under the “Know the facts” segment that 30 percent of child victims are sexually assaulted by a core family member or relative; and 60 percent by someone known to them.

“That would be a neighbor, coach, teacher, friend of the family or clergy,” he said. “Just under 10 percent are assaulted by strangers, and fewer than one percent are abducted and sexually assaulted by strangers. The odds are 50-50 if a child is abducted or sexually assaulted by such a stranger, and that abduction lasts over three hours, the child will be murdered.”

During a book reading and autograph session for his book, 'Men in My Town,' at the Courtyard Marriott in Lincoln, author Keith Smith receives a hug from Kathy Kelley, who grew up with Smith. TIMES photo by BUTCH ADAMS.

Smith then forcefully stated, ”with 90% of childhood sexual assaults committed by someone known to the child, the risk to your children isn’t necessarily with the stranger at the park, but may very well be with the person you allow to take take your child to the park.”

He detailed how to “Be aware of the signs” — and that, sometimes, there are none at all. He spoke of the physical signs (bruises, swelling, pain, rashes, cuts and self-mutilation); emotional signs (a happy, healthy child suddenly becomes sullen, sad, depressed, has nightmares, can’t sleep, ponders suicide); and the behavioral (combative, defiant, unusual changes in friends or things they once enjoyed, age-inappropriate sexual behavior or drug/alcohol abuse).

Under the “Be aware of what to do” portion, he indicated parents should minimize the amount of “alone” time your child spends with adults, and demand that adults involved in extracurricular activities, sports, summer camps or educational lessons be subjected to mandatory background checks.

“Don’t leave children in the care of adults with known alcohol or drug problems,” he said. “Understand why a child may not tell — guilt, shame, fear — (and/or) to protect others. Use positive stories in the news as a catalyst for discussion. Tell your child now that you believe in them, they can trust you and you will help them, no matter what.”

As for “Know where to go,” Smith told attendees either to call 1-800-4ACHILD (all information will remain confidential and anonymous), or visit the Web site www.childhelp.org.

And “Know what to say” dealt with the same as No. 3 — “Tell them I believe you, you can trust me and I will help you. If you tell them those things regularly, they won’t keep quiet, and the perpetrator will get arrested.

“I’m speaking out to raise awareness of male sexual assault, to let other boys and men — seven or 70 years old — that they are not alone,” he stated. “I want to help people, help kids, learn the ‘Reasonable Steps …’ My hope is that other victims of sexual abuse, boys or girls, can come to realize that they aren’t responsible for what happened to them.

“Once they truly believe it wasn’t their fault, they may be able to shed the dangerous, misplaced guilt they carry and begin the transition from sexual assault victim to sexual assault survivor.”

**

After his program, Smith first hugged his brother, Ken, then greeted most of the approximate 30 in the audience the same way.

“I came here because we were best friends,” noted Tapley, who grew up in the Fairlawn section near the Smith homestead. “I remember my sister calling me over a year ago and saying, ‘Did you here about Keith?’ and I said, ‘No.’ She told me he had written a book, and I asked her, ‘On what?’ She said, ‘He was sexually assaulted as a boy.’ I just responded, ‘Get outta here!’

“I never knew,” he continued. “Nobody spent more time with Keith than I did. When I found out, I called him in New Jersey, and we had an emotional conversation. I asked him ‘How did I not know this? We were together in high school all the time.’ He told me had been ashamed and embarrassed, and felt guilty.

“During his presentation, I could see the emotion in him. For him to do this here, it had to be hard for him, but I could also tell by his body language that he was retracing his steps that night. It showed me he’s at peace now.”

Smith agreed.

“There’s no doubt that that discussing my story with the press, media and during public speaking engagements this has helped me heal,” he offered. “But the real healing was achieved when I started to sincerely believe. I’m not responsible for what happened to me.

“When I was able to shed the guilt, shame, embarrassment and fear — by truly believing it wasn’t my fault — I was able to make the transition … But it’s not about my personal healing. It’s about using my personal experience, and my story, to help others.”

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Keith Smith, author of Men in My Town, is a Stranger Abduction Sexual Assault Survivor and a Keynote Speaker on issues of child safety. He’s available as a speaker for conferences, seminars and fundraising events benefiting non-profit organizations, government agencies, companies and professional associations dedicated to helping children who have been sexually abused. 

The story of the abduction, beating and rape of a teenage boy from Lincoln, Rhode Island, followed by the unsolved brutal murder of his assailant in Providence, is now a moving novel written by the man who survived this vicious attack.  Read Men in My Town by Keith Smith. Based on Actual Events.   Available now at Amazon.com in Paperback and Kindle.

“Keith Smith: A story of pain, fear and hope”

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on November 7, 2010

by Audra Clark, Valley Breeze Staff Writer

LINCOLN – In 1974, Keith Smith, a Lincoln teen, was abducted, beaten and raped by a stranger at the age of 14, but he still considers himself one of the luckiest people anyone could ever meet.

That night he was held captive for two hours and 15 minutes, said Smith. Forty-five more minutes and his chances of being murdered as well would have jumped to 50 percent. But he wasn’t murdered, said Smith. He survived and went on to lead a good life.

Recently, he returned to Lincoln on Wednesday, Oct. 27 at the Marriott Courtyard, 636 George Washington Highway to tell his story.

His talk included a discussion on reasonable steps to keep children safe and a reading of excerpts from his book, “Men in My Town,” about his experience dealing with what had happened to him.

On Friday, March 1, 1974, Smith said he was trying to get home after a weekly meeting with his hockey team on Front Street.

He said he walked down to Smithfield Avenue and was hitchhiking home.

Keith Smith. Stranger Abduction Sexual Assault Survivor and author of "Men in My Town."

“Back then, in 1974, to see a 14-year-old kid hitchhiking home was not all that uncommon,” said Smith.

He said a car pulled up beside him and the passenger door opened.

Smith said he got in and told the man driving to take him to Hartley’s Pork Pies.

“Very little conversation took place from the time I got in the car to the time he drove past Hartley’s Pork Pies,” said Smith. “As he drove past Hartley’s, I didn’t think anything of it. I guess I just thought he forgot where I told him I wanted to get out.”

Smith said he told the guy to drop him off just past Hartley’s, but the guy ignored him, and then he sped up.

“That’s when I realized something’s not right,” said Smith. “He definitely knew I wanted to get out and he wasn’t pulling over to let me out.”

There was a bar on the corner a few blocks down called Kiernan’s Lounge, now Brooksie’s Pub. At that intersection, he said, the man took a right onto Grafton Street.

When the man slowed down to take the turn, Smith said he saw his chance to escape and grabbed the handle on the passenger door. He said he leaned on the door figuring he would roll out onto the parking lot of Kiernan’s, but the door wouldn’t open.

Smith explained that the man was a “recidivist predator” and the door had been rigged so that once it was closed, it wouldn’t open again.

He said the man turned to him after that, punched Smith in the head and he told him, “don’t do it again.”

The man then drove up Cobble Hill Road, took a right on Louisquisset Pike past the State Police barracks and the Lincoln Downs racetrack (now Twin River), said Smith. He said eventually they arrived behind Fairlawn Golf Course off Sherman Avenue and drove down a road that was wooded and had no streetlights. Smith said the man drove off the road about 100 yards into the woods “where he proceeds to give me a beating and to sexually assault me.”

The incident occurred between 6 and 8:15 p.m., said Smith.

He said the man then took him back to Smithfield Avenue and onto Higginson Avenue toward Central Falls, and pulled into the Cote’s Meat Market parking lot.

Smith said the man got out of his car and opened up the passenger side door with a key from the outside.

“I’m not about to get out of the car because as long as I’m in the car and he’s out I’m safe,” said Smith. “He walked back around the car to get back in and as he gets on the driver’s side of his car that is when it was time for me to get out.”

He said that’s when he jumped out of the passenger side door, picked up a broken piece of cement and used to it smash the rear window of the man’s AMC Gremlin auto.

“I did that with intent,” said Smith. “I wanted to make sure I marked up his car pretty bad so that when I told the cops what he was driving there would be some way to identify it.”

Then, said Smith, he took off, running down through the parking lot of Lincoln Lanes bowling alley, what is now the Keefe Funeral Home.

He said he ran through several back yards, and street to street, hiding behind trees and cars to get home.

By this time it was dark, said Smith, and every pair of headlights seemed like it was the man, coming back to kill him.

When he got home, said Smith, his oldest brother and his father were there.

“I wasn’t in the house for a minute,” he said. His oldest brother knew something was really wrong as soon as Smith entered the house and he called to their father, said Smith. A couple of minutes later, he said, he was at the Lincoln Police station telling his story to a detective.

“It wasn’t easy,” said Smith. “but there were a couple of moments during my captivity where I said to myself, I’m not trying to be dramatic, but I did this, I said, if I live through the night, he will pay.”

He said that is what led him to read the man’s license plate, back then written on the rear of inspection stickers on the windshield, for the two hours he was captive until it was “emblazoned” in his memory.

Smith said he gave the police the description of the man, the license plate number, the car’s make and model and told them he broke the window.

Eventually the officer said “well you got the right guy,” after they ran the license plate, said Smith. The man had been arrested a number of times for sex crimes against children, said Smith.

“He was indicted, but he never went to trial because someone beat him to death before his court date,” said Smith. “No one’s ever been charged with his murder.”

Thirty-five years later, Smith said he decided to write his book, “Men in My Town,” because he was finally able to let go of the guilt and the shame of what happened to him.

He said he was ready to tell people what happened, because after three decades, less than six people ever knew that he had been raped. Even his five siblings, except for his oldest brother, and his daughters didn’t know.

The book, he said, is not about the bad guy who lived in Central Falls, but about “guys in my town.”

They were known to his family, he said, and were ever present figures in town, always at Brooksie’s or at the golf course, where Smith worked as a teen.

“They made me feel that they knew and because they knew, I was safe,” said Smith. “The book is not about a sexual assault or a brutal murder, it is a story about men who made a boy feel safe in a troubled time in his life. It is a story of hope.”

In the book, most of the names and a few of the circumstances have been changed to respect people’s privacy.

Smith said the book, which is available at amazon.com, “has done a lot for me,” and he said he hopes it helps other survivors find hope.

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The story of the abduction, beating and rape of a teenage boy from Lincoln, Rhode Island, followed by the unsolved brutal murder of his assailant in Providence, is now a moving novel written by the man who survived this vicious attack.  Read Men in My Town by Keith Smith. Based on Actual Events.   Available now at Amazon.com in Paperback and Kindle.

Men in My Town profiled in the Fall Issue of Providence College Magazine

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on October 27, 2009

Keith Smith’s Men in My Town is profiled in the Fall Issue of Providence College Magazine 9781439226254-FrontCover

In Graduates’ Literary Work Hits the Bookshelf we get an inside look at Keith Smith’s recently released bio-novel, Men in My Town. In Men in My Town, Smith tells the shocking but compelling story of the abduction, beating, and rape of a teenage boy, followed by the unsolved murder of his assailant. Making the narrative even more gripping is that the protagonist and victim was Smith himself. “I wrote the story to raise awareness of male sexual assault, to let other victims know that they’re not alone and to help victims of rape and violent crime understand that the emotion, fear and memories that may still haunt them are not uncommon to those of us who have shared a similar experience,” he said. “For those who suffer in silence, I hope my story brings some comfort, strength, peace, and hope.”

Men in My Town by Keith Smith. Available now at Amazon.com in Trade Paperback and Kindle.

Email the author at MenInMyTown@aol.com

In Honor of Chief Ernie Hart

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on September 30, 2009

One of the Men in My Town died today – Chief Ernie Hart, Chief of the Fairlawn-Lincoln Fire Department.

Chief was a good man. He taught us how to lay a few hundred feet of 3 inch hose in the bed of a pumper and was insistent about us properly rolling the 50 feet of green garden hose that laid between the bay doors.

When he caught guys washing their own cars at the fire station, he made them painstakingly hand wash the old Ward La France pumper until it was spotless.

He took local boys who weren’t old enough to smoke and gave them the courage to walk into smoke-filled buildings.

I’m pretty sure he never coached a sport, but he was more of a coach than any I ever played for and better than all of them. He coached dozens of us, 16 year-old kids and 50 year-old men, to work together as a team.

He taught us to work side-by-side so we could roll out of the station with 3 men on a truck; one to drive, one to dress the hydrant and one to slip on a Scott Air Pack and enter buildings.

Men in My Town Pictures Firemen

He taught us the buddy-system; no one ever entered a burning building alone and it was up to each one of us to keep the other guy safe.

He was serious and professional on the scene of a fire and would entertain us with stories about drunks who fell asleep smoking and burnt their couch or the guy on Cobble Hill Road who put a garden hose in his chimney to put out a creosote fire in his fireplace.

When ten young women died in a dormitory fire during my freshman year at Providence College in 1977, Chief reached out to console me and my friends.

He was a friend to Duffy, Bones and Arthur; a mentor to me, David, Kevin, Tim, Greg and Russell; a husband to Barbara; and a father to Debbie, David, Brian, Bruce, Kevin, Craig and Maryann.

Fairlawn was a safer place because Ernie Hart was our Fire Department Chief.

Kids from Fairlawn grew up to be better men because Ernie Hart was their Chief.

My book, Men in My Town, is dedicated to ‘masked men and superhero’s, real and imagined.’  It’s dedicated to men in my town who enter burning buildings in life-offering, unselfish acts of bravery and kindness, real men, real-life heroes.  It’s dedicated to Chief Ernie Hart and the firemen who were lucky enough to stand by his side.

Rest in Peace, my Chief and Thank You.

Ernest J. Hart, Jr.  1927 – 2009

The story of the abduction, beating and rape of a teenage boy from Lincoln, Rhode Island, followed by the unsolved brutal murder of his assailant in Providence, is now a moving novel written by the man who survived this vicious attack.

Men in My Town by Keith Smith. Available now at Amazon.com

Email the author at MenInMyTown@aol.com

A Conversation with Keith Smith, Author of Men in My Town

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on June 30, 2009

Q: Keith, I understand you’ve recently finished writing a book. Tell us about it.

A: The book is titled, Men in My Town. It’s a suspense novel based on the true story of the abduction, beating and sexual assault of a 14-year-old boy in Lincoln, Rhode Island in 1974 and the brutal unsolved murder of his attacker in Providence in 1975.

Q: What can you tell us without spoiling the plot for those who haven’t yet read the book?9781439226254-FrontCover

A: The story focuses on the young boy’s relationship with a few men in his town, men who are close to the boy and his family, men who watch over him, men that protect him after he’s been assaulted. They’re good men with the capacity to do bad things. It’s a story that causes the reader to revisit their position on the question, “Does the end ever justify the means?” and vividly juxtaposes the good and evil that can exist simultaneously in every man.

Q: Why did you write Men in My Town?

A: There are a number of reasons. First, it’s a good story worth telling. It’s a gripping suspense novel with a storyline that includes characters based on real people, real places and real events. It’s a glimpse into the street hustle hiding in the peaceful suburbs of Providence, Rhode Island in the 1970’s, complete with gamblers, bookies, car thieves, petty criminals, organized crime, hard-working honest men and a murderer or two.  Secondly, Men In My Town is my personal story. I am the 14-year-old boy in the story and only a few people, very few people, know what really happened to me on that cold winter night in 1974. I wrote Men in My Town to stop keeping this secret from the people closest to me, people I care about, people I love, my long-time friends and my family.  And finally, I wrote the story to raise awareness of male sexual assault, to let other victims know that they’re not alone and to help victims of rape and violent crime understand that the emotion, fear and memories that may still haunt them are not uncommon to those of us who have shared a similar experience.

Q: Why did you wait 35 years to tell this story?

A: I’ve been silent because of shame and guilt. I was ashamed that a man sexually assaulted me. My guilt was based on wanting to protect my protectors, to eliminate the possibility that someday, someone would get arrested and perhaps go to jail for killing the guy for what he did to me. I’ve been fighting these thoughts, these feelings, these emotions, for decades and I’m finally able to properly deal with these things. I now realize that I shouldn’t feel ashamed or guilty because I’m not responsible for what my attacker did to me… and I’m not responsible for what others may have done to him.

Q: What makes Men in My Town unique?

A: It’s unique because it’s the only fact-based suspense novel that I’m aware of that deals with the subject of male sexual assault and the unsolved murder of the pedophile rapist. It’s unique because there aren’t many novels set in Rhode Island and this is the first novel ever set in the Town of Lincoln. Men in My Town is unique in that it helps people understand that violent crimes against children can occur anywhere, even in bucolic, beautiful, sleepy little suburban towns like Lincoln, Rhode Island.

Q: Are there other works, either books or movies, that you think are similar to Men in My Town?

A: Dennis Lehane’s Mystic River comes to mind. Mystic River opens with the abduction and sexual assault of a young boy from a tight knit, working class suburb of Boston. It deals with pedophilia, murder, secrets, average guys, cops and criminals. Michael Corrente’s movie Federal Hill, set in Providence, deals with relationships between close friends, organized crime and what I refer to as ‘street hustle.’ If you’re familiar with either Mystic River or Federal Hill, you may see similar themes in Men in My Town.

Q: How long did it take you to write this book?

A: The story has been with me since 1974 so I can actually say it took me 35 years to write this book. The actual writing, putting pen to paper, hammering out the story, revising drafts, took about 6 months; working with editors, literary agents and publishers took the project out to a full year.

Q: How did you write Men in My Town? What was your process?

A: I wrote this story inside out. I didn’t start by writing chapter one, page one. Instead, I listed the events that I wanted to write about, the places I wanted readers to visit, the characters I wanted readers to meet and the emotion I wanted readers to feel. I wrote sections one at a time capturing the events, places, characters and emotion, then pieced them together in a sequence that made the story whole, like a quilt.

Q: I understand you left Rhode Island in 1982. What do you miss about Rhode Island?

A: I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s in the Fairlawn section in the south end of Lincoln, 4 miles north of Providence. Everyone on my block knew my brothers, my sisters, my mom, my dad and me. People went to baseball games at the field in the fall, skated on the pond in the winter and lined up on Smithfield Avenue to watch the Memorial Day parade in the spring. There was a wonderful sense of community, security, peace. People sat on their porches and knew their neighbors. Neighbors watched out for one another, took care of each other. I miss that. I also miss coffee milk, clear chowda, clam cakes, great Italian food on Federal Hill and the beaches from Narragansett to Watch Hill.

Q: Well we’re glad you’re back in Rhode Island, at least for today. Keith, how do we get a copy of Men in My Town?

A: Men in My Town is available now on Amazon.com. You can pick up a copy of Men in My Town at all public libraries in Rhode Island and public libraries in Mercer County, New Jersey. If your local library doesn’t have a copy in their collection, they’ll typically order one after they receive a few requests, so please visit your local library and ask them to stock a copy or two. Discounts on orders for 10 or more books are available, just email your request to MenInMyTown@aol.com.

Q: Thanks for being with us tonight.

A: It was my pleasure. Thank you for the opportunity to talk about Men in My Town.

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Keith Smith, author of Men in My Town, is a Stranger Abduction Sexual Assault Survivor and a Keynote Speaker on issues of child safety. He’s available as a speaker for conferences, seminars and fundraising events benefiting non-profit organizations, government agencies, companies and professional associations dedicated to helping children who have been sexually abused. 

Men in My Town by Keith Smith.

Available now at Amazon.com

Email the author at MenInMyTown@aol.com

 

BookReview.com rates Men in My Town, “Very Good.” Cites novel as “Compelling storytelling… a rare, reassuring tale of vigilante justice.”

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on June 9, 2009

Books-and-Reviews

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In 1974, a young man was abducted and raped by a total stranger. Using his wits, the boy is able to make identifying markings on his attacker’s car, and he memorizes the license plate, enabling the police to identify and arrest the man. One year later, the boy’s attacker is found brutally beaten and murdered, yet his murder is never solved. “Men in My Town” is based on the author’s own experiences, and blends together the author’s own account of the events that occurred, and fictional speculation of what may have happened to his attacker.

Compelling storytelling in the opening chapters draw in the reader and keeps the reader interested through the concluding chapters. Author Keith Smith describes the residents of Lincoln and their relationships to each other in elaborate detail to show how this network of men may have banded together to track down the attacker and arrange his murder. The interesting cast includes a bookie, gamblers, lawyers, and a tailor, all who may have played some role in the plan. The author also traces the attacker’s steps both before and after the rape, leading up to his murder, following him even through other attacks on young men. While the story often feels disjointed, one can imagine the difficulty involved in Smith revisiting the attack and trying to get inside the thoughts of his attacker.

Men in My Town” tells a rare, reassuring tale of vigilante justice. While the authorities failed the author as a young man, pushing back the rapist’s trial gradually for over a year, the men of Lincoln stepped in to provide necessary resolution and relief.

Men in My Town by Keith Smith.

Available now at Amazon.com.

Email the author at MenInMyTown@aol.com

Sex Abuse Victim Finds Solace in Written Word

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on May 25, 2009

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Monday, May 25, 2009

BY MICHELE ANGERMILLER

EAST WINDSOR — March 1, 1974, was like any other day for Keith Smith.

The then 14-year-old boy attended a hockey team meeting at his coach’s barbershop in Lincoln, R.I., after school. Around 6 p.m., Smith headed home, but made a decision that forever altered his life.

“I decided to hitchhike,” he said. “A car pulled up to me, opened the door, and I got in.” What happened next is every parent’s nightmare — Smith was beaten and raped by a serial pedophile — a 29-year-old man who had been arrested, jailed and released many times before the abduction.

“It is the real story of a 14-year-old kid who was assaulted by a man not familiar to the victim,” said Smith, who now resides in East Windsor with his wife and two daughters. “He was a stranger. I did not know him.”

Smith, who until January was employed as a vice-president at Merrill Lynch, recounts the details of that horrible night in his new novel, “Men in My Town.” It is the story of Smith’s ordeal and the subsequent events that remain a mystery to this day.

According to Smith, his assailant was never convicted of the crime because he was found brutally beaten to death in the streets of Rhode Island one year later. “Men in My Town” is Smith’s catharsis. It is also a fictionalized composite of the characters he grew up with and an imagining of who may have killed the predator.

“The book has a few different angles,” Smith said. “The man who attacked me owned an adult book store, and went to prison for distributing pornography. So maybe the mob killed him. Maybe he had ties to organized crime.”

Another theory in the book is that he was killed for what happened to Smith, although the boy kept the ordeal a secret for 35 years.

Photo by Butch Adams / The Times

Smith retells the events of that night as if it happened yesterday. His voice shakes with the memory as he tells his cautionary tale of what happens when you get into the wrong car, in his case a purple AMC Gremlin.

“I asked him if he could drop me off at a business called ‘Hartley’s Pork Pies,’ and he drove right past it,” he said. “I then told him to pull over at the Fairlawn Lincoln fire station, and he drove right past that. I knew I was in trouble.”

The driver remained silent for an eighth of a mile before he slowed down to make a right hand turn. Smith’s plan was to open the door and roll out of the car, but the man had it rigged so the car door wouldn’t unlock.

“When the door didn’t open, he pounded me on the side of my face with his fist,” he said. “I was trapped in the car.”

Smith then made a conscious effort to memorize the license plate number written on the inspection sticker, which was located on the passenger side of the car windshield. He scratched the inside of the door with his fingernails so investigators would have evidence he was in the vehicle.

“I kept thinking, ‘if I live through the night, I will make him pay,'” he said.

After the attack, Smith was let out of the car. He found a broken cement block on the ground and hurled it at the man’s car as he drove away, smashing the entire rear window.

Smith ran, cowering under parked cars in fear that the stranger would come back to harm him. Eventually, he made it home. His father, Albert, and his brother, Brian, immediately knew something was wrong. After he told them everything, he was brought to the police station.

When the suspect, who Smith calls “Ronald Kohl” — not his real name — in his book, was arrested, the boy was asked to identify the man in a photo lineup. Smith was asked to testify at the indictment that summer, and a trial date was set. “Kohl” was released on bail.

Then nothing happened. A year went by, and no trial. One week before the trial date, in August, 1975, “Kohl” was found beaten to death in the streets of Providence, and left out in the open to rot.

Smith’s book explores the still unsolved crime of the man who assaulted him. The release of the book on March 16 broke the silence he kept for 35 years about what happened that night.

“Why write the book?” he said. “It is based on real characters and real events that happened in my neighborhood. It is also about the men in my town. Some were gamblers; some were car thieves, or organized crime guys. A lot of them were regular hardworking guys.”

“Some people say to me the men in my town were bad men,” he said. “I say they were good men with the capacity to do bad things.”

The seeds of the novel were planted two years ago, when Smith started writing notes to himself as a way of preparing himself to tell his two daughters, aged 15 and 20, what happened. He kept writing, and completed the tome in December, 2008.

“People ask me how long it took to write the book, and I tell them 35 years,” he said.

Smith went to a few agents and publishers, and decided to self-publish with the Amazon.com “BookSurge” program.  He says about 400 copies have sold through Amazon.com. The book is available by “print on demand,” which Smith says is a very “green way to publish.” “You order your book, they print up one copy and mail it to the customer,” he said.

Writing the book has been therapeutic for Smith, who now serves as a trustee of a nonprofit organization called PEI – Kids in Lawrence, helping young victims deal with trauma.

Already Smith has received letters from other victims who found his book online.

“I have gotten e-mails from around the world,” he said. “I heard from a woman that lives in an American Indian tribe in Northern Michigan, on the Canadian border. She told me there is an epidemic with boys being assaulted on Indian reservations, and she is using my book to help teenage boys be comfortable with confiding in an adult if it happens to them.”

Does Smith believe his attacker got the proper comeuppance?

“My neighborhood was safer because he was no longer around,” he said. “That animal that grabbed me was trolling my neighborhood looking for kids.”

Smith says now that his secret is published he is sleeping better at night. His nightmares, long triggered by news stories on television, are less frequent.

“What I want other victims to know is that they shouldn’t feel ashamed, guilty, or responsible,” he said. “I wasn’t responsible for what that guy did to me and I wasn’t responsible for what other people did to that guy.”

Men in My Town, published by BookSurge, is available for $14.99 on Amazon.com and as an “e-book” download for Kindle.  It is also available in the Mercer County Library System and on the shelves of Chicklet Books, an independent bookstore in Princeton.

Email the author at MenInMyTown@aol.com