Caroline Kendall Kortner's high school photos showed her to be "one of the most beautiful young women I have ever seen," according to Stamford lawyer Christopher C. Burdett.
Born in 1970, Kendall, as she was known, died in March 2010, several months after she lost a civil assault and battery trial against her married boyfriend, Craig L. Martise. She was suing the Greenwich computer programmer for physical and emotional injuries arising from their sado-maschocistic sexual relationship, alleging that because she was mentally and emotionally ill, she was little more than a child, legally speaking, and incapable of giving consent.
But a jury of six men concluded that whether or not Martise slapped, whipped, and dripped hot wax on Kortner, this was a matter between legally consenting adults.
But was the jury verdict itself legal?
Kortner's mother, Mary H. Kortner, who is now the administratrix of her daughter's estate, is pressing an appeal to the Connecticut Supreme Court. In a case drawing national attention, in part because sado-masochistic sex is a major theme of the ultra-popular Fifty Shades Of Gray novels, the Supreme Court heard arguments last week, on March 12.
Kendall Kortner was always smart, a straight-A student who was admitted to Yale and Trinity, but never attended either. That's because she had mental health issues ever since she was a young girl, according to her mother.
In 1994, Mary Kortner was appointed Kendall's conservator, after Stamford Probate Judge Gerald Fox II, on a "clear and convincing" evidence standard, found Kendall incapable of caring for herself. Every three years thereafter, according to Burdett's briefs, the conservancy was renewed.
In 1999, Kendall Kortner encountered Martise in an Internet chatroom. They first met in person in 2003, and the young woman eventually informed her mother the two were having sex.
In his appellate brief, Burdett details the alleged sexual acts. Martise "dressed Kendall who at the time weighed under 80 pounds, was incontent and wore a diaper, had open wounds on both legs and used either a wheelchair or a walker in a black crotchless body stocking [and] introduced the element of domination, demanding that she call him master."