It seems like a good sign for Beau’s defense that both of the psychologists who evaluated Beau find him a low-risk to reoffend. Van Valkenberg does an excellent job, however, of getting both psychologists to acknowledge evidence that Beau has not taken full responsibility for his crime. For Allison and her family, Beau’s refusal to acknowledge that he raped her despite pleading guilty to rape in court is a contradiction that cannot be ignored. Milt Datsopoulous and the character witnesses that testify on Beau’s behalf all suggest that drug treatment and sex offender treatment will be enough punishment for Beau. Dr. Meyers’ testimony that Beau has misrepresented how well he did with the substance abuse treatment he already completed is significant because it suggests that, contrary to the arguments of Beau’s defense, therapy is not enough to change Beau’s character. Beau’s father, Larry Donaldson, is a sincere witness, but even he cannot defend the actions of his son. Instead, he tries to shift the blame off Beau and onto his substance abuse problems. Beau himself can do nothing on the stand but apologize.
In U.S. criminal court, prosecutors call witnesses and give their closing statements first. This is done to give the advantage to the defense, which can rebut the prosecution’s claims. In Chapter 20, Krakauer shows how little Beau’s defense lawyer, Milt Datsopoulous, can do to challenge prosecutor Fred Van Valkenberg’s arguments against Beau. Datsopoulos’ only argument is that his alternative, lighter sentence is harsh enough to make Beau suffer. Until Beau’s girlfriend screams from the gallery after Beau’s sentence, the reader has no idea she exists. Her reaction shows just how morally complicated rapists and rape can be. Rape doesn’t necessarily prevent someone from being a loved husband or boyfriend, and it doesn’t necessarily nullify a person’s other good deeds. Rape is so atrocious and psychologically disturbing for its victims, however, that, as McLaughlin’s statements to Krakauer indicate, victims sometimes blame themselves not just for being raped but also for allowing their rapist’s future crimes.