Malignant Memories

The Marvellas have had a lot of celebrating to do lately. The meeting with the police detective in Kent, Wash., went better than they had hoped. Before they even left his office, he'd agree to pursue the case against Vivian's father.

That case is now under review by King County prosecutors. But another investigation in California has ended in an arrest.

On May 5, the Santa Clara Police Department issued a warrant for Frederick Roland Dietz Sr. on felony charges of child molestation. Santa Clara is where the most damaging abuse of Vivian's step-niece allegedly took place. The majority of the evidence came from an interview Anne Newell did with the victim in California and the videotape she made of the father, in Anchorage.

Dietz was found in Clearwater, Fla., where he was visiting his father in a convalescent home. Police there arrested him on the California warrant May 26, according to Santa Clara police Sgt. Mark Kerby. Dietz was being held under a $100,000 bond, and Santa Clara authorities are pursuing extradition.

For Ezzie, all the physical ailments she suffered when she first started this process — the allergies, the sore joints, the headaches — have gone. She and her family still disown each other. But in addition to the Marvellas , she's developing a new one through members of her temple. She's been asked to be the local president of the worldwide Jewish women's organization Hadassah, and is planning a trip with congregation Beth Sholom to the Holy Land in the fall. And she continues to write.

Ezzie no longer sees herself as weak, or as she used to put it: "a wimpy- ass little broad."

Now, she wakes up every morning and says her favorite prayer, thanking God for making her a woman and allowing her to feel emotion and still be strong.

For Margie, a breakthrough has come. Since returning from Seattle, she's remembered everything that happened in the barn. She's still not ready to talk about it publicly. But just remembering has made a big difference.

"I feel more wonderful about myself than I ever have in my life," she said. "I've gotten rid of it."

Margie's also discovering she's stronger than she ever thought and capable of making her own decisions. Like insisting her husband go on vacation without her this year, so she could attend Ezzie's birthday and coming-out party. A year ago, she wouldn't have thought of saying no to anyone.

Never have they seemed so at peace with themselves than since their return from Seattle. At a Passover celebration at her place, Ezzie opened a bottle of sparkling cider and poured each of them a glass. "To our exodus!" Then they dove into a feast of kosher dishes, followed by a round of chocolate.

At this point, Ezzie believes she's 95 percent through healing, which she describes as living without fear.

"I'm not afraid to open my bedroom door," she said. "I'm not afraid my father is going to be on the other side. For the longest time, I was afraid he was going to be there and he was going to be very angry that I told."

It's been a long haul, and not all the work is done. But one thing is for sure — the Dark Ages are over.