Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2008

Patty Hearst, 2001

The granddaughter of publishing titan William Randolph Hearst made headlines in 1974 when an urban guerilla group known as the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) kidnapped her from her Berkeley, Calif., apartment. Two months later the 19-year-old was photographed robbing a San Francisco bank while brandishing an assault rifle — apparently she had taken up her captors' cause. At trial her defense lawyer focused not only on her abuse and the fact that the kidnappers forced her to take part in the robbery, but on the pervasive brainwashing by her attackers that caused her to sympathize with them. The defense didn't work and Hearst was convicted of bank robbery on March 20, 1976. She was imprisoned for almost two years before Jimmy Carter commuted her seven-year sentence and freed her from jail. But it was President Bill Clinton who granted her a full pardon on the last day of his presidency, January 20, 2001.