Most people in his upscale community knew Robert Bashara as a successful businessman, prolific charity fundraiser, Rotary Club president, church usher and married father of two who volunteered at his kids' volleyball and soccer games.
And that upstanding image might have remained intact – if his wife hadn't been killed. The spotlight of suspicion turned to Bashara, revealing what prosecutors say was a murder-for-hire scheme and what witnesses describe as a secret double life of meeting other women for bondage, discipline and sadomasochistic sexual encounters, some in a basement "sex dungeon," and snorting cocaine on a private golf course.
The two wildly contrasting sides of Bashara, 56, emerged during a two-month trial in a Detroit courthouse, where jurors this week are slated to begin deciding his fate. He's charged with first-degree murder and related charges after prosecutors say he hired his handyman to kill his wife of 26 years, Jane, 56. The marketing executive at an energy consulting company and mother of the couple's two children, now in their 20s, was found strangled and beaten on Jan. 25, 2012, in her Mercedes-Benz SUV in a Detroit alley.
Bashara wanted her out of the way, prosecutors allege, so he could "continue his BDSM (bondage dominance sadomasochism) lifestyle with his mistress, Rachel Gillett, and potentially other 'slaves,' as well as tap into Jane Bashara's retirement funds," according to the Macomb Daily.
Bashara has denied any involvement in his wife's death.
During the trial, jurors heard all about that fetish lifestyle in scenes that sounded like they could have come from Fifty Shades of Grey or another lurid tale from the kinky world of BDSM, where Bashara was known as "Big Bob."
One woman told of going with Bashara to a sex dungeon in the basement of a building he owned, where she was tied to a cross and flogged, according to the Detroit Free-Press.
Another described a sexual encounter with Bashara that included a "thrashing" so rough that "it left marks for three months" and a choking so severe that it caused her to lose consciousness, The Detroit News reports. ...
At the holiday Pop-in@Nordstrom shop, offerings include snowflake sweaters, penguin beanies, wool scarves and a selection of black leather harnesses — for humans, not reindeer.
The harnesses were designed by Zana Bayne, who has almost single-handedly elevated the harness from the boudoir and bondage and into fashion. She has made custom pieces for Beyoncé, Madonna, Lady Gaga and FKA Twigs, and her line is sold at high-end stores like Comme des Garçons (Rei Kawakubo owns two herself), Dover Street Market and Selfridges.
“I wear mine with a boring white oxford shirt,” said Olivia Kim, Nordstrom’s director of creative projects, who brought the line to the store, “but they also look great over dresses. It’s the perfect example of what an accessory does: accentuates clothing.”
Ms. Bayne has a similar harness philosophy. “It’s a layering piece to add to an outfit,” she said. “The physical aspect of having something cinch you in makes you hold yourself higher. But I always warn people that if you wear it out, people are going to pull on you. It brings something out not just in the wearer, but in those around her.”
Ms. Bayne also makes bags, bustiers and collars, as well as a men’s line, with prices ranging from $120 for the most basic harness to $2,300 for a leather sheath of linked hand-cut leather stars. (Gwen Stefani wears the sheath for a cover shoot for the March Cosmopolitan.)
The work is remarkable in its craftsmanship (lately she has been experimenting with laser-cutting), but what really makes it stand out is the thematic nuance and subcultural charge in each piece, which is a lot of depth for an accessory.
As with an abstract painting, what viewers see depends on their perspective. The wearer may see a flattering belt, while others see overt sexual allusions.
“I’ve never aimed to shock,” Ms. Bayne said. “My design comes from a naïve place, and I think, ‘Of course someone will wear this,’ and then it comes out ... I don’t want to say harder, but maybe not as innocent.” For her, it is never about subjugation.
“Wearing a collar can make you feel like the most powerful warrior in the world,” she said. ...
Dave Navarro can go from shredding to bedding in one fell swoop ... now that he's designed a two-in-one guitar strap slash sex toy.
The rocker tells TMZ he decided to combine his 2 favorite things -- music and sex -- and teamed up with a BDSM toy company ... and the result is something he calls, "The Strap."
Pretty simple concept ... the guitar strap comes off the guitar and can then be used to restrain yourself or a partner in a ton of different positions. Seriously ... just about anything your sick mind can come up with ... The Strap can handle it.
As Dave put it ... "It's the Swiss army knife of the bedroom" -- that is if you don't already have an actual Swiss army knife in play.
Navarro preaches safe S&M though, and revealed his safe word -- “Chappaquiddick.” ...
Continuing on its recent censorship-happy path, the U.K. government amended regulations this week to prohibit online porn from depicting a variety of erotic activities. Now-illicit acts range from the very specific (female ejaculation; "spanking, caning, and whipping beyond a gentle level") to the incredibly broad ("verbal abuse"). But basically, the U.K. has banned BDSM and certain forms of fetish porn—or at least, charging money for that sort of porn.
The new rules come as part of the 2014 Audiovisual Media Services Regulations, which amends the country's previous communications law to require all "Video on Demand" services to meet standards set by the British Board of Film Censors (BBFC). From Vice UK:
... from now on, VoD porn – online porn you still pay for, essentially – must fall in line with what's available on DVD. That means that British pornography producers will no longer be able to offer content online that couldn't be bought in a sex shop.
Acts that are no longer acceptable include: spanking, caning and whipping beyond a gentle level; penetration by any object "associated with violence"; activities that can be classed as "life-endangering", such as strangulation and facesitting; fisting, if all knuckles are inserted; physical or verbal abuse, even if consensual; the portrayal of non-consensual sex; urination in various sexual contexts; and female ejaculation.
It's a strange, highly-subjective list of sexual behavior deemed too deviant for folks to be exposed to. (Who knew women orgasming were so scandalous?) "R18 is a strange thing," Jerry Barnett, founder of anti-censorship campaign Sex and Censorship, told Vice. "There appear to be no rational explanations for most of the R18 rules–they're simply a set of moral judgements designed by people who have struggled endlessly to stop the British people from watching pornography."
Adult filmmakers in the U.K. who show their videos on for-pay porn sites are now limited in what they can feature, and websites that charge for porn content are limited in what they can show. But of course there's plenty of (both free and for-sale) BDSM and fetish porn out there on the World Wide Web. U.K. lawmakers are essentially just further driving homegrown porn purveyors out of business. The industry is already strained by age-verification filters, mandated last year, which have driven up website operating costs while turning away customers.
Both regulations disproportionately affect smaller, independent porn producers and websites. As Vice's Frankie Mullin points out, the new censorship rules will have less effect on large porn producers and mainstream sites, "which tend to favour the strip, blowjob, fuck, cum-all-over-a-woman's-face formula, but the UK's smaller, independent producers," specifically fetish producers. These include people like Ms Tytania, who makes feminist-tinged dominatrix porn, and pretty much anybody else whose products deviate from normative sexual practices. The rules really are a crazy infringement on freedom of artistic expression, not solely a commercial setback for someone who runs subscription rough-sex sites (not that there's anything wrong with that). ...
News 10 discovered an illegal swingers club operating near a school in Terre Haute, alerted City Engineering and within 24-hours – that business is being shut down.
It may not look like much, but inside the building located at 1929 Locust Street, you’ll find adult material.
‘Hometown Adult Video’ has been in business for years. But, it’s the newly created business upstairs that has neighbors concerned.
“Yeah, the swingers club has been there less than a year,” explained Janice Peretti, neighbor. “I won’t go in there because they have really nasty things in there. No I won’t go in there at all.”
News 10 also found their website, ‘Terre Haute Topside.’
“There’s been a book store an adult oriented book store at that location for years long before the city ever had an adult oriented business ordinance,” Chuck Ennis, Terre Haute City Engineer explained. “So that use was ‘grandfathered’ in.”
Meaning the video store can operate within a residential area but the swingers club can not.
“The city passed an ordinance back in 2006 that set limits on where these businesses could be located,” Ennis continued.
The premier swingers club will not be shut down because of the business, it’s all about location. It’s actually near an elementary school just around the corner.
“These types of businesses…people don’t want these in their neighborhoods,” Ennis described. “They don’t want to live next door to one; they don’t want one next to the school.”
Ennis also stated an adult business cannot be within 500 feet of a school or church.
‘Terre Haute Topside’ is approximately 223 feet from Franklin Elementary, forcing inspectors to shut it down.
“Our job here is complaint driven, were not knocking on doors, ya know checking out places like this until we get a complaint. Somebody calls and complains and then we respond,” Ennis stated. ...
The women who have made allegations of sexual abuse against the former CBC host say he never raised the topic of BDSM.
By: Kevin Donovan
The women making abuse allegations against Jian Ghomeshi — there are now 15 — say he never raised the topic of BDSM or asked for consent.
New allegations include a woman, a student at the time, who said the former host of the CBC Radio program Q tried to smother her by covering her nose and mouth with his hands, and others who describe how, with no warning, Ghomeshi made guttural snarling noises, hit, slapped, bit, choked them and in some cases pulled their hair so hard they were yanked down to the floor or onto a bed.
In one case, a woman said Ghomeshi did ask at one point if “I was into choking” and told me “that it would heighten the experience” of sex. When the woman said she was not (this was in 2011) she said Ghomeshi became “sulky and distant.” At another point she recalls how he struck her across the face and “called me a slut.”
In the incident where the woman alleges a suffocation attempt (in 2012), the former student said she had a tumultuous five-month relationship that included numerous assaults. She left him after one particularly traumatic incident in his house where she alleges he was suffocating her.
“I could die here tonight and no one would know what happened,” said the woman, who said she used her phone to contact a girlfriend from Ghomeshi’s bathroom. Her friend told her to “get out of there.”
This woman, and the others the Star have interviewed, said Ghomeshi never used the term “BDSM,” which refers to bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism. In his Facebook posting where he defended his actions, Ghomeshi said he was part of a BDSM community where these activities are all consensual and condoned. People in Toronto who are part of that community have contacted the Star and said that Ghomeshi’s alleged activities do not fit their lifestyle.
The Star’s original stories, published a month ago, detailed accounts of six women who say they were assaulted by Ghomeshi, and two women (both CBC employees) who said they were sexually harassed. Toronto author and lawyer Reva Seth added her allegation in a posting on Huffington Post. That brought the total to seven women making abuse allegations and two making harassment allegations.
Since that time, the Star has received information from seven more women making abuse allegations. One other woman, who has not spoken to the media, made a complaint to police and her complaint forms part of the police investigation that led to four charges of sexual assault and one of overcome resistance — choking, this week.
To the Star’s knowledge, there are now 15 women making abuse allegations and two making harassment allegations. Two men the Star has spoken to describe incidents where Ghomeshi fondled their genitals in a public place without consent. The Star has also interviewed two women who, when they were as young as 16, felt that Ghomeshi inappropriately contacted, touched and flirted with them. Neither of them alleges physical or sexual assault, but found his advances unsettling. In one case, the person he made advances on was 16. Ghomeshi was 40 at the time.
None of the allegations against Ghomeshi has been tested in court. ...
By charging Jian Ghomeshi with a single count of “overcome resistance – choking” on top of four counts of sexual assault, the Crown has signalled that it intends to seek a long penitentiary sentence if Mr. Ghomeshi is convicted, legal observers say.
“It ups the ante for sure,” Ottawa defence lawyer Paul Lewandowski said. “It’s a beacon of the severity of the charges.”
The maximum penalty for overcoming resistance by choking to commit an indictable offence is life in prison, while the maximum for sexual assault is 10 years. Not often used, the charge of overcoming resistance by choking for the purpose of committing another offence was written into Canada’s original Criminal Code in 1892, and until 1972, whipping was one of the prescribed punishments, Osgoode Hall law professor Benjamin Berger said.
“It is very much like [a charge of] attempt murder except the Crown doesn’t have to prove the intent to cause death,” Calgary defence lawyer Lisa Silver said.
She said the Crown, which would have participated in discussions with Toronto police before police charged Mr. Ghomeshi, probably had tactical reasons for choosing that charge. Other options in a sexual-assault case are to lay a charge of sexual assault causing bodily harm, or aggravated assault; both carry a maximum of 14 years in prison.
“Why didn’t they charge bodily harm? It’s hard to prove. There’s a whole area of case law. There’s also the issue of whether two consenting adults in a sexual relationship can consent to bodily harm. If it’s not sexual assault, you can consent to bodily harm but it hasn’t been completely decided for sexual [assault]. So the Crown is trying to get away from the tough issues, yet still have the ability to show that these charges are serious and that they will be asking for a large penitentiary sentence if he gets convicted.”
Mr. Lewandowski said that a cross-examination of someone who alleges she was choked would be tricky, unless there were e-mails or other evidence that the person consented to be choked. “The lawyer will say, ‘that was one of your fantasies.’ But if none of those collateral sources [of evidence] are available, you’ll be stuck with her answers – ‘that’s not something I asked for. It was completely unprovoked.’”
Overcoming resistance by choking is an offence of specific intent, meaning the Crown would have to prove it was done for the purpose of committing a serious offence such as sexual assault, Mr. Lewandowski said. Sexual assault is a general intent offence, requiring that the Crown prove unwanted touching of a sexual nature.
He estimated the case would take a year or two to reach trial.
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's top university took the dominant role this past Wednesday when it gave a firm “no” to students who wanted to start a school-sanctioned club centered on BDSM, the broad range of erotic practices mostly identified with bondage and dominance role-play.
A committee made up of students, teachers and administrators at National Taiwan University convened that day to hear proposals for new student groups, but hopes for a BDSM-centric club soon unraveled when it only managed to harness support from six of 17 committee members.
The case has gained national media attention in the days since because of preconceptions shackled to BDSM practices and the clashing images of people tying themselves up in rope and chains for pleasure against the archetype of the “guai guai” (well behaved) NTU student.
The president of the still unendorsed BDSM Club, who calls himself Lisa Lu, said that while NTU may be the first Taiwanese school to try to set up a society for ropes and role-play, it is not unprecedented at other distinguished institutions on top of the academic world.
“There don't seem to be any others (in Taiwan),” Lu told CNA. “But as for schools abroad, I have learned that Harvard has an S&M student group on campus.”
Harvard gave approval its local BDSM society in 2012, but it's far from the only university to do so. Iowa State University established a bondage club called Cuffs back in 2003, and Conversio Virium at Columbia University, established 1994, claims to be the oldest student-led bondage education group in the United States.
What all these student clubs have in common is offering a safe, welcoming environment for people practicing or interested in exploring BDSM culture. Lu's is no exception.
“It's not easy to talk about this in society as BDSM is still a taboo issue, and we face the pressure of being harassed. We want to create a place for people in this culture to meet up and work together to build their respective senses of identity,” he said.
“Our aim is to explore the diversity of eroticism through academic discussion and practice,” he said.
It's the practice part that has caused friction and made some uncomfortable, even though Lu said that only makes up “about one-fourth” of the mostly academic agenda and operates on a strict policy of informed consent. ...