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Back row (lr): Author Lora Lusher's paternal grandfather, her father SFPD Inspector Ted Lusher, her mother Claire, her maternal grandmother (who lived with Jack Bokin and his parents) and Bokin's father, Jack Sr. Front row (lr): Lusher's brother, her sister, Lora Lusher at age 2 and her cousin Jack Bokin at age 9.
Jack Bokin was bright and handsome, but his face he used as a mask. He had a natural charm and a knack for making people laugh, although he had no real friends. He ran his own plumbing business, was married and had two children. As a child he had been something of a prodigy: a whiz at chess and the piano. By age 10 he was also a sexual predator. His first victim was his 3-year-old cousin, his last – while he was out on bail after being charged with raping and assaulting three other women –was a 19-year-old he bound, raped repeatedly and beat for five hours before bashing in her skull with a hammer, tying her up in a bag and dumping her into San Francisco Bay.
by Lora Lusher
I'm sitting in the gallery of Courtroom 25 in the San Francisco Hall of Justice. It is Aug. 5, 1999. My 56-year-old cousin, Jack Bokin, is on trial charged with over 40 counts of violent sexual assaults on four different women. Amber, the 19-year-old prostitute who identified Jack as the man who tried to kill her, is on the witness stand. She has just finished describing the night of Oct. 4, 1997 when she was bound, raped and beaten for five hours before her skull was bashed in and she was dumped into San Francisco Bay.
Jack's defense attorney, Michael Gaines, requests a side conference and he and Asst. D.A. Elliott Beckelman huddle at the judge's bench, whispering.
The quiet in the courtroom is an abrupt change from the violence in Amber's words, which although spoken softly, are still ricocheting off the walls. Jack is sitting at the defense table with his back to the gallery; he appears unconcerned. I'm staring at his familiar outline and thinking back on the holiday dinners and birthday parties, camping trips and vacations, and the family members who are now gone. It seems so long ago. I don't know how we got here.