The verdict came as a shock to courtroom observers who, unlike the jury, had access to the uncensored, and highly titillating, e-mail exchanges between Jovanovic and his accuser, 57 pages of exchanges that took place both before and after the alleged torture incident that marked their only off-line date.
By ignoring 'Net dynamics and accepting his e-mail postings as pure representations of truth rather than admixtures of fantasy, the verdict exposed the failure of many traditional institutions to grasp the psychological upheaval wrought by cyberculture.
It is a play on the French word zut, reflecting ZZ5's interest in French, words and phrases of which dotted her e-mail. The prosecution claimed that the cybersex victim was a naive and vulnerable young woman who was lured to her torture by a man whose e-mail was thai of a dangerous sexual sadist.
Untethered from the usual social restraints, Internet chat-room devotees of all genders, ages, races and sexual proclivities or hang-ups give free rein to their disinhibited ids, getting in touch with their inner deviants.
A Freudian analyst's dream, they are the electronic talk therapy patients. They are also part personal ad interviewers and interviewees, part seducers and part religious.confesees.
There were no bite or burn marks, for example, to help substantiate ZZ5's story.
The prosecution argued that Jovanovic was an accomplished sadist who knew how to avoid leaving marks.
On the stand, ZZ5 admitted that she had willingly submitted to some of Jovanovic's tortures.