THE SCANDAL

On a short vacation to San Francisco in September 1921, a small party took place in Roscoe's hotel suite. A young lady named Virginia Rappé fell ill, having sharp stomach pains. A doctor was called. Four days later she died of peritonitis.

Arbuckle was arrested on September 11th, and was held over for manslaughter on flimsy evidence. However, massive negative publicity was undertaken by the "yellow journalism" press -- repeatedly making lurid claims, in screaming headlines, that Arbuckle had sexually abused Rappé to death with (by various accounts) a coke bottle, a milk bottle, a champagne bottle, and/or a chunk of ice. These factually unsupported charges caused an incredibly hostile environment for holding a fair trial, despite overwhelming evidence pointing to Arbuckle's innocence. Two hung juries resulted. By the time of the the third trial, most people had calmed down. Voting in the hallway, the third jury aquiitted Arbuckle in six minutes. Most of that time was spent composing the following:

"Acquittal is not enough for Roscoe Arbuckle. We feel that a great injustice has been done him. We feel also that it was only our plain duty to give him this exoneration, under the evidence, for there was not the slightest proof adduced to connect him in any way with the commission of a crime. He was manly throughout the case, and told a straightforward story on the witness stand, which we all believed. The happening at the hotel was an unfortunate affair for which Arbuckle, so the evidence shows, was in no way responsible. We wish him success and hope that the American people will take the judgement of fourteen men and women who have sat listening for thirty-one days to the evidence, that Roscoe Arbuckle is entirely innocent and free of all blame."

Nevertheless, the damage was done. Roscoe Arbuckle would be blacklisted from acting in Hollywood for the next eleven years.

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