The only real evidence against him was the word of his victim, and his own roughly two months worth of e-mail.
No one testified about such cyberculture quirks as the notorious difficulty in distinguishing the truth or fantasy of e-mail postings.
The verdict came as a shock to courtroom observers who, unlike the jury, had access to the uncensored, and highly titillating, e-mail exchanges between Jovanovic and his accuser, 57 pages of exchanges that took place both before and after the alleged torture incident that marked their only off-line date.
By ignoring 'Net dynamics and accepting his e-mail postings as pure representations of truth rather than admixtures of fantasy, the verdict exposed the failure of many traditional institutions to grasp the psychological upheaval wrought by cyberculture.
Last May, Oliver Jovanovic, a Columbia University doctoral candidate, was sentenced to 15 years to life for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman he had met and corresponded with on the Internet.Legal maneuvering stripped the victim's e-mail of its many references to her interest and participation in bondage and domination experiences, experiences that in themselves commonly turn gender roles upside down.