Patty Hearst

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Patty Hearst
Arrest photo
Born Patricia Campbell Hearst
(1954-02-20) February 20, 1954 (age 60)
San Francisco, California, US
Nationality United States
Other names Patty Hearst
Patricia Hearst Shaw
Occupation Heiress, socialite, actress
Known for Being taken hostage by the Symbionese Liberation Army and later recruited as a member
Spouse(s) Bernard Shaw (1979–2013; his death)
Children Lydia Hearst-Shaw
Gillian Hearst-Shaw
Parents Randolph Apperson Hearst
Catherine Wood Campbell
Relatives William Randolph Hearst (grandfather)
George Hearst (great-grandfather)
Anne Hearst (sister)
Amanda Hearst (niece)

Patricia Campbell "Patty" Hearst(born February 20, 1954), now known as Patricia Campbell Hearst Shaw, is an American kidnap victim. Hearst is the granddaughter of the late publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst. In 1974, when she was 19 years old, Hearst was kidnapped by a radical group, the Symbionese Liberation Army. She was held prisoner, sexually assaulted and threatened with death. Isolated from any other social contact, Hearst was gradually coopted into identifying with the group that had abducted her. She made propaganda announcements for them and then took part in illegal activities. By the time Hearst was found she was a fugitive wanted for serious crimes. Her conviction and sentence of 35 years imprisonment, despite the abuse and coercion she had been subjected to, was widely seen as unjust, but the legal correctness of the verdict was upheld by the courts. US President Jimmy Carter commuted Hearst's sentence to free her. She was pardoned by President Bill Clinton.

Early life[edit]

Hearst was born in San Francisco, California, the third of five daughters of Randolph Apperson Hearst and Catherine Wood Campbell.[1] She grew up primarily in Hillsborough. She attended Crystal Springs School for Girls in Hillsborough and the Santa Catalina School in Monterey.[2] Among her few close friends she counted Patricia Tobin, whose family founded the Hibernia Bank, a branch of which Hearst would later aid in robbing.

Kidnapping and the SLA[edit]

Patty Hearst yelling commands at bank customers[3]

On February 4, 1974, the 19-year-old Hearst was kidnapped from her Berkeley, California apartment, which she shared with her fiancé Steven Weed, by a left-wing urban guerrilla group called the Symbionese Liberation Army.[4] When the attempt to swap Hearst for jailed SLA members failed, the SLA demanded that the captive's family distribute $70 worth of food to every needy Californian – an operation that would cost an estimated $400 million. In response, Hearst's father arranged the immediate donation of $6 million worth of food to the poor of the Bay Area. After the distribution of food, the SLA refused to release Hearst because they deemed the food to have been of poor quality. (In a subsequent tape recording released to the press, Hearst commented that her father could have done better.) On April 3, 1974, Hearst announced on an audiotape that she had joined the SLA and assumed the name "Tania"[5] (inspired by the nom de guerre of Haydée Tamara Bunke Bider, Che Guevara's comrade).[6] For this reason, she is often referred to as a victim of Stockholm Syndrome.[7]

On April 15, 1974, she was photographed wielding an M1 carbine while robbing the Sunset District branch of the Hibernia Bank at 1450 Noriega Street in San Francisco.[8] Later communications from her were issued under the pseudonym Tania and asserted that she was committed to the goals of the SLA.[9] A warrant was issued for her arrest and in September 1975, she was arrested by the FBI and SFPD in a San Francisco apartment with another SLA member, Wendy Yoshimura. FBI Agent Thomas Padden is credited with their actual arrests.[citation needed]

Legal status of brainwashing and duress[edit]

Indoctrination was not held to excuse criminal actions. A person who had been willingly or unwillingly exposed to coercive persuasion, was still held fully responsible for any criminal action not done under a clear and present threat of death or serious injury.[10][11] A defense based on brainwashing had no status under the law, and securing of an acquittal on that basis would be completely unprecedented.[12] Duress was accepted as a legal defense, but to acquit on the grounds of duress required the defendant to have been acting under an immediate fear for their life.[13][14]

Trial and imprisonment[edit]

While being booked into jail, she listed her occupation as "Urban Guerilla" and asked her attorney to relay the following message: "Tell everybody that I'm smiling, that I feel free and strong and I send my greetings and love to all the sisters and brothers out there."[15] However, according to Hearst interviewer Margaret Singer, a noted authority on prisoners of war and other victims, including Maryknoll priests[16] released from the People's Republic of China in the 1950s, this is not unusual in such cases. Singer strongly pleaded for understanding on Hearst's behalf before, during and after the trial. Court-appointed doctor Louis Jolyon West as well as interviewers Drs. Robert Jay Lifton and Martin Theodore Orne agreed. Lifton went so far as to state after a 15-hour interview with Hearst that she was a "classic case," about two weeks being needed for almost all persons undergoing that level of mind control to shuck off a good deal of the "gunk" that has filled the mind, as happened in his opinion with Hearst's case. "If (she) had reacted differently, that would have been suspect" and Hearst was "a rare phenomenon (in a first-world nation)… the first and as far as I know the only victim of a political kidnapping in the United States" were direct quotes from Hearst's autobiography attributed to the doctor. Dr. West firmly asserted that while Donald "Cinque" DeFreeze and other movement members had used a rather coarse version, they did employ the classic Maoist formula for thought control; Hearst was young and apolitical enough to be at extreme risk and, in his professional experience, it would have even broken many experienced soldiers.[17]

In her trial, which commenced on January 15, 1976 (and in her dozens of previous interviews by FBI agents Charles Bates and Lawrence Lawler—any reference to which was not allowed by the presiding judge to be included in the trial), Hearst's attorney F. Lee Bailey claimed that Hearst had been blindfolded, imprisoned in a narrow closet and physically and sexually abused. Hearst's defense claimed that her actions were the result of a concerted brainwashing program.

The prosecution countered with two experts: Dr. Joel Fort, who, unsolicited, had previously offered favorable testimony in paid service to the defense team, which was refused; and Dr. Harry L. Kozol, noted expert on neurological disorders, sex offenders and high-profile mentally ill criminals. He formerly had been the long term doctor for Eugene O'Neill and evaluated the confessed Boston Strangler, Albert DeSalvo, a case defended in 1967 by Bailey. Kozol claimed Hearst was "a rebel in search of a cause" and that the robbery had been "an act of free will."[18] During a pre-trial interview, Hearst accurately described the apartment where the SLA was captured, but neglected to mention the narrow closet where she was allegedly confined. In Kozol’s view, Hearst’s omission confirmed the prosecution’s thesis: returning the embrace of the SLA, she had ceased to be a victim. The rebel had come out of the closet.[19] When Kozol testified, Hearst turned “the dead white color of a fish’s belly,” according to journalist Shana Alexander. "Harry never lost the spirit of the law," Dr. Harold W. Williams, then a psychiatrist at McLean Hospital in Belmont, told The New York Times in 1976, when prosecutors asked Dr. Kozol to examine Hearst. "Harry is very much in personality a lawyer."[20] Bailey argued that she had been coerced or intimidated into taking part in the bank robbery.

On March 20, 1976 Hearst was convicted of bank robbery and using a firearm in a felony. She was sentenced to 35 years' imprisonment.[21]

Reactions to the conviction[edit]

The Supreme Court refused to hear her appeal against the conviction.[22] There was widespread public disquiet with the way the law had worked, and several former members of the jury that had found her guilty supported a groundswell of opinion against the outcome of Hearst's trial.[23][24] She won a judicial review of the sentence that cut it to seven years.[25] Although there were some articles in legal journals about the issues in the case the definition of duress in law remained unchanged.[26] Actor John Wayne speaking after cult deaths in Jonestown, Guyana said: "It seems quite odd to me that the American people have immediately accepted the fact that one man can brainwash 900 human beings into mass suicide, but will not accept the fact that a ruthless group, the Symbionese Liberation Army, could brainwash a little girl by torture, degradation and confinement."[27][28]


President Jimmy Carter's commutation of her sentence released Hearst on February 1, 1979, by which time she had served 22 months in prison. She was granted a full pardon by President Bill Clinton on January 20, 2001.[29][30][31]

Personal life[edit]

After her release from prison, she married her former bodyguard, Bernard Shaw, and had two children: Gillian and Lydia Hearst-Shaw. They resided in Garrison, New York. Hearst has occasionally granted interviews to national media regarding the SLA incidents and taken minor acting parts. Bernard Shaw died of cancer on December 18, 2013, at the age of 68.[32]

Hearst enters French bulldogs into conformation shows, with one French Bulldog winning the Best of Opposite Sex ribbon at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.[33]

Documentaries about Hearst[edit]

Material produced by Hearst[edit]

  • Dissatisfied with other documentaries made on the subject, Hearst produced a special for the Travel Channel entitled Secrets of San Simeon with Patricia Hearst in which she took viewers inside her grandfather's mansion Hearst Castle, providing unprecedented access to the property. (A video and DVD were later released of the special.)[citation needed]
  • Hearst and Cordelia Frances Biddle collaborated on the writing of a novel titled Murder at San Simeon (Scribner, 1996), based upon the death of Thomas H. Ince on her grandfather's yacht.

Acting roles[edit]

Hearst has dabbled in a career as an actress.


  • Hearst, Patricia Campbell; Alvin Moscow (1988). Patty Hearst: Her Own Story. New York: Avon. ISBN 0-380-70651-2.  First published in 1982 as Every Secret Thing.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Patty Hearst Profile". CNN. Retrieved 5 July 2014. 
  2. ^ "Patty: friends portray a girl both rich and alone". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. 9 June 1974. pp. 8A. Retrieved 5 July 2014. 
  3. ^ Lucas, Dean (2007). "Patty Hearst". Famous Pictures Magazine. Retrieved July 15, 2007. 
  4. ^ FBI — Patty Hearst Kidnapping. Retrieved on April 15, 2014.
  5. ^ "Timeline: Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst". American Experience. August 8, 2006. 
  6. ^ "Cuba honors the remains of 10 Guevara comrades" JOSE LUIS MAGANA. Houston Chronicle. Houston, Tex.: December 31, 1998. pg. 24
  7. ^ Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine: Stockholm Syndrome, Gale, 2011 
  8. ^ "The Patty Hearst Kidnapping," The FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation: Famous Cases and Criminals. (Includes photo of Hearst holding weapon.) Accessed August 21. 2013.
  9. ^ 1975 Year in Review: Patty Hearst Jailed at the Wayback Machine (archived October 9, 2010). United Press International. 1975
  10. ^ Minds on Trial: Great Cases in Law and Psychology By Charles Patrick Ewing, Joseph T. McCann p34-36
  11. ^ Patty's Got a Gun: Patricia Hearst in 1970s America. P 69
  12. ^ Patty's Got a Gun: Patricia Hearst in 1970s America. P 69
  13. ^ Patty's Got a Gun: Patricia Hearst in 1970s America. P 69
  14. ^ Patty Hearst Trial (1976) by Douglas O. Linder (2006)
  15. ^ "Patty's Twisted Journey". Time. September 29, 1975. [dead link]
  16. ^ West, Louis Jolyon (December 29, 1978). "Psychiatrist pleads for Patty Hearst's release". Eugene Register-Guard. Retrieved January 28, 2013. 
  17. ^ "[CTRL] Fwd: [MC] Patty Hearst on Joly West & his friends". January 10, 1999. Retrieved May 8, 2010. 
  18. ^ Carey, Benedict (September 1, 2008). "Harry L. Kozol, Expert in Patty Hearst Trial, Is Dead at 102". The New York Times. Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  19. ^ Wilkinson, Francis (December 24, 2008). "Harry L. Kozol, born 1908". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved July 31, 2010. 
  20. ^ Marquard, Brian (August 31, 2008). "Harry Kozol, exposed dark side of human character 102". The Boston Globe. Retrieved July 31, 2010. 
  21. ^ Historic U.S. Court Cases: An Encyclopedia, Volume 1 edited by John W. Johnson p 127
  22. ^ Historic U.S. Court Cases: An Encyclopedia, Volume 1 edited by John W. Johnson p 127
  23. ^ Slate Dahlia Lithwick, JAN. 28 2002 The Brainwashed Defense
  24. ^ Historic U.S. Court Cases: An Encyclopedia, Volume 1 edited by John W. Johnson p 127
  25. ^ Historic U.S. Court Cases: An Encyclopedia, Volume 1 edited by John W. Johnson p 127
  26. ^ Shifting the Blame: How Victimization Became a Criminal Defense By Saundra Davis Westervelt p65
  27. ^ Slate Dahlia Lithwick, JAN. 28 2002 The Brainwashed Defense
  28. ^ Historic U.S. Court Cases: An Encyclopedia, Volume 1 edited by John W. Johnson p 127
  29. ^ Dell, Kristina and Myers, Rebecca (n.d.). "The 10 Most Notorious Presidential Pardons – Patty Hearst". Retrieved September 16, 2011. 
  30. ^ Office of Public Affairs (January 20, 2001). "President Clinton's Pardons, January 2001". United States Department of Justice. Retrieved November 24, 2008. 
  31. ^ Historic U.S. Court Cases: An Encyclopedia, Volume 1 edited by John W. Johnson p 127
  32. ^ Patty Hearst's husband Bernard Shaw dies at 68. Fox News (December 18, 2013). Retrieved on April 15, 2014.
  33. ^ Nizza, Mike (February 12, 2008). "Patty Hearst’s Comeback, Thanks to the Dog". The New York Times. Retrieved November 27, 2014. 
  34. ^ Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst on PBS
  35. ^ "Hearst: U.S. needs defense against panic attacks, too". Daily News (New York). October 10, 2005. Archived from the original on October 13, 2005. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Boulton, David (1975). The Making of Tania Hearst. London: New English Library. ISBN 0-450-02351-6. 
  • Graebner, William (2008). Patty's Got a Gun: Patricia Hearst in 1970s America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-30522-6. 
  • McLellan, Vin; Paul Avery (1977). The Voices of Guns: The Definitive and Dramatic Story of the Twenty-two-month Career of the Symbionese Liberation Army, One of the Most Bizarre Chapters in the History of the American Left. New York: Putnam. ISBN 0-399-11738-5. 
  • Pascal, John; Francine Pascal (1974). The Strange Case of Patty Hearst. New York: New American Library (Signet). 
  • Weed, Steven; Scott Swanton (1976). My Search for Patty Hearst. New York: Crown. ISBN 0-517-52579-8.  Weed was Hearst's fiancé at the time of the kidnapping. That was the end of their relationship.

External links[edit]