There were many stories that surfaced during the 1800s and 1900s of black men raping white women. Some of these stories were far from being true and many black men were lynched as a result. However, this one particular case turned out very differently for one particular black man.
Mrs. J.C Underwood was the wife of a minister of Elyria, Ohio in 1888. While her husband was away on business Mrs. Underwood met a black man by the name of William Offett. Underwood accused Offett of chloroforming her and having his way with her. Offet denied the charge of rape, and confessed to going to Underwood’s residence but only by invitation, and was criminally intimate with her at her own request. He was later found guilty and put in jail on December 14, 1888.
Later Underwood confessed to her husband after great remorse that Offet was actually nice to her. The two had met at the town post office. She was carrying several bundles in her arms, and Offet offered to help her carry the items home. She told her husband that once Offet arrived at the home, he had a great fascination for her. So, she invited him to call on her over and over again, and he did. He often arrived with goodies such as chestnuts and candy for Underwood’s children. The two used the items to bribe the children out of the room. Underwood would then sit on Offett’s lap and they would be intimate throughout each visit. Underwood also admitted to her husband that she did not resist, nor did she have a desire to resist Offett.
When asked by her husband why she told him, she replied: “I had several reasons for telling you. One was the neighbors saw the fella’ here, another was, I was afraid I had contracted a loathsome disease, and another was that I feared I might give birth to a Negro baby. I hoped to save my reputation by telling you a deliberate lie.” Underwood’s husband was horrified by the confession. He went down to the police station and told what had happened. Offett, who had already served four years was released. Underwood filed and divorced his wife.