Feminism on Trial
For months after returning to New Paltz, Ginny dwelled in a deep depression. Her parents attributed her mood to the breakup of the marriage, not knowing at the time their daughter had recently given up what would have been their first grandchild. Her father, in fact, would never know. Her mother only found out twenty years later when the story came out on the witness stand at Ginny's murder trial.
While experiencing this lowly state of affairs, she fell into the arms of John "Jack" Sidote. It was the spring of 1965, about a year after having her baby. Ginny accepted an invitation from a girlfriend to have a few drinks at Villa Lipani, a nearby resort that catered primarily to an Italian-American clientele. Behind the bar, mixing drinks and charming the women customers was Jack.
Ginny described him as "an aggressively good-looking man who appeared to be in his middle to late twenties (he was 26). He wasn't very tall, but he had a lean, broad-shouldered, compact strength. His hair and eyes were black, and his face seemed very dark above his ruffled bartender's shirt. ... There was a compelling vitality about him, a sort of magnetism that I could feel even at a distance." He also sported a deep scar that ran the width of his forehead. "But, instead of detracting from his looks, it added somehow to the impression he gave of total, overpowering masculinity."
Ginny was taken in by him immediately. "I couldn't take my eyes off him," she confessed in her book, despite being warned by her friend that he was "bad news." She went on to write, "I'd never in my life felt so drawn to a man or so excited by one. I loved the way he looked and the way he moved, and I loved what I saw as his confidence, his aura of strength and power. That, I thought, was exactly what I needed in a man."
But, if that was what she saw in Jack, she wasn't the first or only one to see it. His reputation as a Don Juan was no secret. The resort had cottages on the premises, one of which the owner, John Lipani a father-figure to Jack graciously let him stay in while Jack was separated from his wife. At least that's what he later told Ginny. Prior to their meeting, he reportedly had many overnight trysts with women patrons and resort employees there. He had a wife and young daughter living in Wappingers Falls, a small village south of Poughkeepsie on the eastern bank of the Hudson River, and the marriage may, indeed, have been on the rocks at the time, but he was still legally married.
When Ginny returned the bar the following night, Jack explained his marital situation to her. He had been married to his wife, Elaine, since 1959 and they had a daughter but things weren't going well for them. He wanted a divorce but his wife was a devout Catholic and wouldn't grant him one. He loved his daughter and went to see her as often as he could but, as far as he was concerned, the marriage was over. Whether or not he was just feeding Ginny a line to ease her apprehensions was something she couldn't tell at the time. It didn't seem to matter to her, though. Ginny saw him as a great catch and she was willing to do what it took to reel him in. All the while, he was reeling her in, too.
The next night she went back again and Jack talked her into staying until he closed at 4 a.m. They later went to his room. Ginny, who to that point in her life, had used her looks and later her body as a tool to get the attention she craved from men, admitted in her book that she "never especially liked the act itself." With Jack it was different. "Mutual passion was a strong bond between us, at least at first."
Soon after that first night together, Ginny and Jack became virtually inseparable. She would come to the bar and hang out until closing time or wait at home for him to call her at the end of his shift. On his days off they would go horseback riding, play bocce, or go to fancy restaurants in New York City. On other occasions they would go to the racetrack at Yonkers, where Jack seemed to know everyone, including track officials, thoroughbred owners, and important guests. They frequented the clubhouse, eating dinner while the races were underway and hobnobbing with other VIPs. For Ginny, who was attempting to recover from a long bout with the blues, this was just the therapy she needed. She felt needed, attractive, and important again.
In later years, long after their breakup and a contentious murder trial in which each would accuse the other of the terrible act, Ginny would reflect on how she could ever have gotten involved with him, knowing what she knew twenty years later. She would answer people's questions along these lines by putting her situation in the context of her time. Women growing up in the '50s were conditioned to measure their own worth by that of the men they were with. But her best explanation for her involvement with him was a very simple one: she loved him.