Magician accused of sexual assault

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Bill Mullins
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Magician accused of sexual assault

Postby Bill Mullins » February 5th, 2019, 3:46 pm

It happened 158 years ago. The magician was Professor John Henry Anderson, the "Wizard of the North".

The earliest coverage I can find is from the Buffalo NY Commercial, 13 April 1861:

EXCITING AFFAIR IN TROY -- ARREST OF PROF. ANDERSON THE MAGICIAN
Professor ANDERSON, whose necromantic entertainments in Buffalo will be remembered by many of our readers, was arrested in Troy Wednesday on the complain of a journeyman barber, who had been employed for a day previous, in circulating stories alike ridiculous and false, with reference to the Professor's character. The latter was promptly discharged on proving his complete innocence of the charge, and, meeting the barber in the afternoon, gave him an unmerciful drubbing.


The Troy newspapers don't seem to be available online, but coverage from them was widely reprinted, and more details came out (from the New York Evening Express, April 13):

Conspiracy against Professor Anderson -- He is Arrested and Discharged -- His Traducer Beaten
(From the Troy Daily Times, 11th.)

The purlieus of the Police Court were considerably excited, yesterday, by the arrest of Prof. Anderson, the great magician, for an alleged criminal connection with a young girl about fourteen years of age, an apple vendor in this city, who, it was charged, had been inveigled into his room at Rand's Hall, and there compelled to submit to the lascivious desires of the magician. The story, it appears, was started by a barber employed in the shop on the second floor of Rand's Hall, who pretended to know all about this last and greatest trick of the wonderful Professor. The story reached the ears of Constable McMulkin, of the Ninth Ward, who, without any process, and upon his individual authority, took Prof A. into custody. The Professor was not detained in jail or compelled to submit to any restraint, except so far as an arrest on a parole of honor and an exposure on a false charge would inconvenience and harass any man. The barber told a very ridiculous story in relation to the girl and the Wizard, so preposterous, indeed, that no one capable of weighing facts would have paid any attention to him. He was arrested some time in the forenoon, and his examination was to take place at 3 o'clock in the afternoon before Justice Landon.

In the interim, between the arrest and examination, the officer and the prosecutor of Mr. Anderson were occupied in finding the girl. She was apprehended, and taken before the Justice at the examination, she told her story -- having had no interview whatever with Professor Anderson meantime -- substantially to the effect that she visited Rand's Hall to sell her trinkets; she went up into Prof. A.'s room and requested him to purchase some of the articles, which he declined doing. She remained some time in his presence, when he asked her what she wanted she then took out a subscription paper, which she was circulating for the purpose of raising money to buy her a sewing machine, and asked him to subscribe. This he did, and gave her a dollar, when she went away. The Professor in his conversation apart from the girl, detailed the circumstance of their interview identically the same as she had done, and the barber who alleged the charge, and the constable who was so officious in arresting Mr. Anderson, being unable to state more than general allegations, Justice London promptly dismissed the Wizard, and intimated to him the right he possessed of causing the arrest of the officer on a charge of false imprisonment.

Of course Professor A. was positive of his acquittal of the base charge which designing men had laid against him. Every circumstance in the case pointed to his innocence, and it is even said that the charge was a trumped up affair, intended to extort money from him, in the expectation that he would rather give $100 than submit to an exposure of this character. But the parties mistook their man and Professor Anderson stands acquitted before the community of the dishonorable act. Professor A. was so incensed by his arrest, that afterward meeting the barber who was the original cause of his prosecution, he so far forgot himself as to take the law in his own hands, and give the man a most unmerciful beating. He belabored him severely, disfiguring his face and eyes, and leaving upon him other evidences of a not very affectionate regard.

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Re: Magician accused of sexual assault

Postby Jonathan Townsend » February 5th, 2019, 10:25 pm

... Professor A. was so incensed by his arrest, that afterward meeting the barber who was the original cause of his prosecution, he so far forgot himself as to take the law in his own hands, and give the man a most unmerciful beating. He belabored him severely, disfiguring his face and eyes, and leaving upon him other evidences of a not very affectionate regard.
Still not so good to associate a magician with aggravated assault and disfigurement. :(
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Re: Magician accused of sexual assault

Postby Leo Garet » February 6th, 2019, 10:03 am

Did Anderson face any charges on this matter, I wonder? Certainly should have done by the sounds of things.

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Re: Magician accused of sexual assault

Postby Brad Henderson » February 6th, 2019, 10:53 am

Jonathan Townsend wrote:
... Professor A. was so incensed by his arrest, that afterward meeting the barber who was the original cause of his prosecution, he so far forgot himself as to take the law in his own hands, and give the man a most unmerciful beating. He belabored him severely, disfiguring his face and eyes, and leaving upon him other evidences of a not very affectionate regard.
Still not so good to associate a magician with aggravated assault and disfigurement. :(


In those days, revenge in defense of one’s honor seems to have been considered an affirmative defense.

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Re: Magician accused of sexual assault

Postby Richard Kaufman » February 6th, 2019, 11:57 am

Wasn't dueling still legal at that time?
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Re: Magician accused of sexual assault

Postby Bill Mullins » February 6th, 2019, 1:14 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:Wasn't dueling still legal at that time?


This wasn't a duel. It was a good old country ass-whooping.

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Re: Magician accused of sexual assault

Postby Richard Kaufman » February 6th, 2019, 2:31 pm

I understood that, but was just wondering if in legal terms it was still possible to shoot someone in a duel and not be charged for murder.
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Re: Magician accused of sexual assault

Postby MagicbyAlfred » February 6th, 2019, 3:47 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:I understood that, but was just wondering if in legal terms it was still possible to shoot someone in a duel and not be charged for murder.


I didn't want to spend an inordinate amount of time researching this question, but it's a good question and it aroused my curiosity. It does not appear that there are laws on the books in any states that specifically proclaim that it is murder to kill someone in a duel. (Excuse me for a second - someone just slapped me in the face with a glove). OK, I'm back.

However, if someone killed another in a duel, it seems like they would be guilty of murder. Generally, murder is defined as the killing of another with malice aforethought, which boils down to killing someone and you either intended to cause their death or intended to cause great bodily harm. Killing someone in a duel clearly meets that definition. And the killer could not validly claim self-defense, because a killing of another in self-defense means it was necessary for you to kill that person because they posed an immediate threat of causing you death or great bodily harm. You couldn't really convincingly prove that. If you consensually agreed to fight to the death in the first place you could not say it was "necessary" for you to kill the other person, because you voluntarily put yourself in the situation of being threatened with death or great bodily harm and could have avoided that threat simply by refraining from entering into a duel in the first place. Therefore the killing of the other person wasn't necessary to protect yourself. (Unless, of course, someone held a gun to your head and said, "I will kill you unless you duel with me," LOL)

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Re: Magician accused of sexual assault

Postby Ted M » February 6th, 2019, 5:03 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:Wasn't dueling still legal at that time?

Not in New York, anyway.

The famous and much earlier Burr-Hamilton duel of 1804 was illegal at the time in both NY and NJ due to anti-duelling statutes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burr%E2%8 ... ilton_duel

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Re: Magician accused of sexual assault

Postby Pete McCabe » February 6th, 2019, 5:55 pm

I am just finishing up reading World of Wonders, the third book in Robertson Davies' Deptford trilogy.

In that book, Willard the Wizard appears as a character. He is a pedophile and drug addict, who rapes and abducts the main character Eisengrim.

I was pretty surprised to find this kind of extremely negative characterization of an actual person in a fictional work. I've never heard any such allegations leveled at Willard.

Does anyone know anything about this? Was there any controversy about it when the book came out?

Or am I missing something?

Sorry but this seemed like a good thread for this weird request.

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Re: Magician accused of sexual assault

Postby Brad Henderson » February 6th, 2019, 6:58 pm

Willard was a known alcoholic.

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Re: Magician accused of sexual assault

Postby Leo Garet » February 7th, 2019, 6:03 am

Bill Mullins wrote:
Richard Kaufman wrote:Wasn't dueling still legal at that time?


This wasn't a duel. It was a good old country ass-whooping.

It seems to have been a bit more than that, but to return to my original query, it seems odd, from today's perspective anyway, that Anderson didn't find himself back in court.

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Re: Magician accused of sexual assault

Postby Bill Mullins » February 7th, 2019, 10:09 am

It didn't say so in the articles, but I have the impression that the policeman may have been involved in the extortion. If that were the case, it may have influenced any decisions not to prosecute Anderson for assault (the cop may have decided not to press charges, the local district attorney may have felt that justice had been served, etc.).

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Re: Magician accused of sexual assault

Postby Kevin Connolly » February 9th, 2019, 4:23 pm

Ted M wrote:
Richard Kaufman wrote:Wasn't dueling still legal at that time?

Not in New York, anyway.

The famous and much earlier Burr-Hamilton duel of 1804 was illegal at the time in both NY and NJ due to anti-duelling statutes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burr%E2%8 ... ilton_duel



I'm pretty sure it was legal, and it may be still, to duel in NJ. That's why they took the ferry over to Weehawken.
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Re: Magician accused of sexual assault

Postby MagicbyAlfred » February 10th, 2019, 9:50 am

The irony surrounding the Burr-Hamilton Duel is that, a scant two years prior to the famous showdown, Hamilton’s 18-year-old son, Philip, had been killed in a duel in New York City on January 10, 1802. After that, Hamilton successfully helped pass a New York law making it illegal to send or accept a challenge to a duel. Those convicted were liable to lose the right to vote and were barred from holding public office for 20 years. Notwithstanding the tragic death of his own son in a duel, and his own (successful) efforts to make dueling illegal, Hamilton engaged in a duel with Burr, which proved to be his undoing. "Honor" must have been a pretty big deal back then, considering people essentially flipped a coin with their lives attempting to "defend" it. Hamilton attempted to circumvent the New York law, which he spear-headed, by rowing over to New Jersey to conduct the duel there, where it was not per se illegal, as Kevin pointed out. Hamilton's foolhardy actions were akin to a Mother Against Drunk Driving (MADD) getting plastered and then going for a Sunday drive. Burr, who was the Vice-President of the United States, was ultimately indicted in New York for the murder of Hamilton...

There is a lot more to this fascinating story, and if you are interested in the details, you can read them here:
https://teachinghistory.org/history-con ... rian/24404

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Re: Magician accused of sexual assault

Postby Bill Mullins » February 10th, 2019, 11:16 am


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Re: Magician accused of sexual assault

Postby Leonard Hevia » February 10th, 2019, 12:11 pm

Ha, ha! That was hilarious Bill!


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