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Bonome v. Kaysen
Massachusetts Superior Court
17 Mass. L. Rptr. 695 (2004)
Joseph Bonome (plaintiff) had an affair with and ultimately left his wife for author Susana Kaysen (defendant). Bonome’s family, friends, and some of his business clients knew of his relationship with Kaysen. After Bonome and Kaysen broke up, Kaysen wrote an autobiography. The book referred to Bonome as Kaysen’s boyfriend, but it did not mention him by name. During their relationship, Kaysen had undiagnosed, severe vaginal pains. The book’s themes included the effect that the pains had on her relationship with her boyfriend. Accordingly, the book included graphic descriptions of the couple’s sex life, including the fact that the boyfriend would beg for sex, but that Kaysen often would deny the requests due to her vaginal pain. The book portrayed the boyfriend as insensitive to the pain. The book also contained one scene in which the boyfriend appeared to force himself on Kaysen sexually. This issue of whether and when undesired sexual advances turn into a nonconsensual physical relationship also became a theme of the book. Because Bonome’s family, friends, and clients knew of the parties’ relationship, they identified him as the boyfriend in the book. Bonome sued Kaysen for invasion of privacy through public disclosure of private facts.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Muse, J.)
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