Sayeth Grisham: No UVA case connection!
Although a January 26 Washington Post review of John Grisham's latest book, The Associate, leads with a description of the infamous UVA 12-step apology case and says the case is "central" to Grisham's new story, the author himself disputes that claim.
In a statement sent to local media on January 29, Grisham says, "I did not fictionalize the UVA case nor base any part of my novel on it."
According to the review and a January 27 interview with Grisham on NBC's Today show, Grisham’s latest protagonist is a recent law school grad who is blackmailed with a cell phone video purportedly showing him in a room three years earlier when two of his college friends have sex with a college freshman who may or may not be conscious.
The real-life 12-step apology case involves a 1984 sexual assault in a UVA fraternity house, and the assailant's decision to apologize to his victim as part of a Alcoholics Anonymous program more than 20 years later.
Although one of The Associate's characters also reportedly apologizes as part of a 12-step program, Grisham made no mention of the Charlottesville case on Today. Instead, host Matt Lauer referenced the Duke Lacrosse case, which Grisham confirmed is mentioned in the book.
The real 12-Step apology case victim, Liz Seccuro, earlier expressed enthusiasm at the reported connection between Grisham's fiction and her real life experience. Told of Grisham's subsequent denial, she declines comment.
The author of the Post article, Patrick Anderson, stands by his review.
"With all due respect to John Grisham, I don't think any objective person could read his novel and read accounts of the UVA case and not see a direct connection between them," writes Anderson in an email. "To say his book is fiction is beside the point. Fiction is often based on fact–- fact that is, of course, changed in various ways to suit the writer's needs. I assume Grisham is denying the obvious at the request of his or his publisher's lawyers."
Anderson, however, adds that he doesn't hold the denial against Grisham.
"I wish him well," he writes.