Eight years ago, a New York journalist named Peter Braunstein, then 41, forced his way into the apartment of a 34-year-old Manhattan woman by pretending to be a firefighter. He proceeded to drug the woman, a former colleague, and sexually assault her for more than 12 hours.
Now, as he serves a lengthy prison sentence in upstate New York, Braunstein is apparently upset that corrections officials there are not allowing him to read Jaycee Dugard's "A Stolen Life," the 2011 memoir of a young woman's kidnapping and 18-year imprisonment by a California couple, Phillip and Nancy Garrido, which ended in 2009.
In a letter framed as a press release sent to the New York Post, Braunstein – who once wrote for Women's Wear Daily and was called "a journeyman in the world of fashion" by New York magazine – complained, "A New York State Corrections official has banned the book 'A Stolen Life' written by Jaycee Dugard, whose abduction at age 11 and subsequent enslavement by a depraved couple gripped the nation and made Dugard a household name," the Post reported. The letter-as-press-release reportedly bore the title, "New York state officials accuse child abduction survivor Jaycee Dugard of 'promoting child pornography' in her autobiography."
At age 11, Dugard was kidnapped off the street by the Garridos, two strangers who held her captive in their backyard for close to two decades. "A Stolen Life" details the sexual abuse Dugard suffered at their hands; she has two daughters fathered by Philip Garrido. This blog noted as the book was being published that "A Stolen Life" "horrifyingly exposed" the sexual abuse suffered by Dugard during her years in captivity.
These details are apparently what Braunstein – a seemingly unrepentant sexual deviant – was after. The Post notes that prison officials have also prevented him from obtaining "Dark Dreams," a nonfiction book about sex crime.
Braunstein writes in his letter/press release: "Her harrowing memoir, published by Simon & Schuster, has been banned by the Department of Corrections on the grounds that it constitutes 'child pornography' and 'promotes the sexual performance of children.'" The Post says the book was sent to Braunstein, but then taken away by prison staff because it did not pass muster with the prison's "Facility Media Review Committee."
But New York State corrections officials aren't budging in the face of Branustein's outrage. "The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision censorship of this particular book is by no means meant to disrespect Jaycee Dugard or her memoir," a spokeswoman told the tabloid.
Braunstein's letter to the Post seems to be part of a self-guided media strategy that has failed to generate much sympathy for the convicted sexual assailant.
Back in 2011, Braunstein was the subject of a lengthy feature in the New York Observer in which he called himself "an evil life coach" to a teenage girl with whom he had begun a correspondence. In the article, Braunstein jokingly compared his own reputation to that of the rapists and murderers with whom he was incarcerated at the Clinton Correctional Facility. He called his cell there "the quintessential man-cave," one covered with magazine images of Emma Roberts and Mila Kunis. With 12 years to life remaining on his sentence, it may well be his home for the rest of his life.