Originally created 08/16/98

Woman has strange self-promotion site



One of the strangest self-promotional sites on the Internet these days belongs to Gillian Guess, a Canadian woman charged with obstruction of justice. A juror in a murder trial, Guess became romantically involved with one of the defendants, Peter Gill. Gill ultimately was found not guilty, but Guess wasn't so blessed. She faces up to 10 years in jail. She will be sentenced on Aug. 17.

Using the Web as a soapbox, Guess pleads her case on a site called Guess in Wonderland. It's a confusing, cobbled-together thing and, as you might imagine, awfully one-sided. She adamantly maintains, point-blank, that "a juror fraternizing with an accused is not a crime unless they conspired to influence, bribe, threat or coerce the jury."

The site is arranged in sections, around Peter Gill's trial, Guess' thoughts on jury duty, a part called The Witch Hunt, and another called The Arrest. Each area is a hodgepodge of screeds and letters and testimonials set against a Pepto-Bismol background. There is too much writing on most pages and not enough clarity. In several sections, you'll even find glamour shots of Guess. If Guess hopes to improve her world standing, she needs to get organized.

Other Guess sites, which may explain the case a little better, have cropped up. A Woman on Trial , for instance, has a terse summary of the case and a few photos. Gillian Guess Guilty, on the other hand, has an agenda. A banner across the top of the home page counts down the days until Guess is sentenced. There is a contest to name the inevitable movie and a poll that asks whether Guess should serve time.

Occasionally there are stories in the Canadian newspapers, some of which are found at the Sun Newsstand.

Building sites around grisly crimes is a practice as old as the Web. The O.J. Simpson trial and the murder of JonBenet Ramsey produced a plethora of online spots, many of which still flourish.

But even among strange and inexplicable sites, Guess' stands out. She uses it to both defend, and sell, herself. Have there always been people like Guess, who says things such as, "I have been tried and convicted for my 'immoral' choice of lover, my short skirts and my outspokenness. These are the same reasons that I expect to be sentenced to serve time."? Or do such folks just spring full-blown from the Web? I suspect it's the former, but it's only a guess.

Getting There: Guess in Wonderland at http://www3.bc.sympatico.ca/GGUESS/; A Woman on Trial at http://www.freeyellow.com/members2/monopolyinvest/index.html; Gillian Guess Guilty at http://members.tripod.com/~full10years/index.htm; and Sun Newsstand at http://www.canoe.ca/PlanetSun

Weeks can be reached at weeksl@washpost.com