In Memory Of Eric K. Barrow – A Protective Father

ericbarrow

Eric K. Barrow – Rest In Peace

 

“Fighting fires, you can do something about what’s going on, and you’re trained to. There’s always the possibility of bringing something terrible to an end. But the fact that my child was hurt . . . it’s like being handcuffed and made to watch it. ”  -  Eric Barrow

I never got the opportunity to meet Eric Barrow.  He passed away before I had the chance.  A good friend (and fellow child advocate), Eileen King, had the chance to get to know him through her work with The Center For Judicial Excellence and Child Justice.  When I read about Eric’s story through Eileen, I automatically felt a connection to him.  I have no doubt that Prince is up in heaven hanging out with this good man.  I write from the perspective of a protective mother, but I want to share Eric’s story so that we all don’t lose sight that fighting for children should be gender blind.  Sadly, dangerous parents can come in either gender.  Eric is an example of a protective father.

Below is a summary of Eric’s case that was prepared by The Center For Judicial Excellence back in 2008:


Eric and his son’s mother never married, but he willingly gave her child support, bought clothes for his son and visited him often during his first year. When the boy was around one, she began refusing to let Eric visit him, so he was forced to file for custody, since the Maryland courts won’t allow parents to file just for visitation. The court granted him three and four day visits in alternating weeks.

After the boy’s mother married another man, Eric knew that something was wrong. His two-year-old son would cry, kick and scream, and try to run away when Eric returned him to his mother and stepfather’s house. It got so bad that Eric reportedly had to give him candy to get him to go back. A few months later, the boy told Eric, “he keeps beating me, Daddy . . . make him stop.” Eric called Child Protective Services (CPS), but without photos or evidence of bruises or cuts, he was told that he was required to turn the child back over to his mother.

When the boy was about three years old, he disclosed to Eric that his stepfather was molesting him. Eric was dressing his son after a bath, and the boy said, “[Stepfather] kisses my penis, Daddy. I don’t want you to kiss my penis.” This time, CPS agreed to investigate, but they informed the boy’s mother first, and about three days later, Eric was charged by the boy’s mother with child abuse. The investigation found that the molestation claims were substantiated, but they couldn’t determine who the perpetrator was. The boy’s mother made him call his stepfather “Daddy,” which complicated the investigation. CPS and the court ordered the mother to take the boy to therapy, and the boy was eventually sent to live with his grandmother on his mother’s side.

A Guardian Ad Litum was appointed by the court to evaluate the custody situation, but Eric says he “acted more like the mother’s attorney and had an attitude.” The court then placed Eric’s son back into custody with his mother and stepfather. A few months later, the boy disclosed more physical and sexual abuse. Eric let his son tell the police about it, but they called his mother and sent him back with her. Three days later, the police followed up to investigate, but by then, the boy had changed his story. Eric later learned that the boy’s mother had threatened to beat him if he ever told anyone about the abuse.

Eric was forced into court many times to urge the court to enforce its order that the mother find therapy for their son. She eventually complied, but the therapist she found apparently informed the boy’s mother each time he disclosed about his abuse. After each disclosure, he was allegedly beaten by his mother and/or stepfather, and his therapist never reported the disclosures to the authorities, as the law requires. Needless to say, Eric’s son soon stopped talking about the abuse altogether.

Eric was forced into court to get a new therapist appointed to work with his son. After a year and a half, the therapist determined that their seven-year-old son was suicidal, and that he was vulnerable to gang violence, drug abuse and alcoholism. The therapist then blamed Eric for going to court to try to get the boy into appropriate therapy, saying that those court appearances about therapy were a big part of the boy’s problem.

Eric faults the whole system, including the police, who repeatedly placed his son in harm’s way. Eric knows that he “can’t give him back his innocence. I can’t make him see the world the way he saw it before.” Now he sees his son every other weekend, and they have a good relationship, despite their seven-year ordeal in the family court system.


What the above story doesn’t capture is that Eric was an American hero.  On September 11, 2001, when a plane flew into the Pentagon, Eric was one of the firefighters whose unit put out the fire.  A year later, on September 11, 2002, Eric’s his unit was at the Pentagon being honored for their incredible work to putting out the fire at the pentagon.  Eric, however, couldn’t attend the event because he was stuck in family court, feeling helpless, unable to protect his son.In March 2013, Eric passed away from a heart attack.  He died in the arms of his son, now a young man – the same some he fought so hard to protect.

There are many reasons that this story struck me when I read it.  Beyond the obvious bond that I have with this man whom I have never met, his story is another example that no matter what sort of life you lead, Family Court remains senseless and humbling.  Here is a man who showed incredible courage in the face of a terrorist attack that shook our nation to its core, and he so elequently explained how nothing was as terrifying as not being able to protect the very person he loved the most – his son.

Many people involved in Family Court reform often get bogged down in gender wars.  They spend hours upon hours arguing which gender has the advantage when it comes to Family Court.  What I have realized, however, is that there are cases across this nation where you see terrible things happening to parents and families of all kind.  At the core of this movement, however, is what is most important – children.

My fellow warriors –  please stand with me to protect our future – our children.

 

The Legal Form Of Child Abuse

Before I get into this topic, let me put forth a few disclaimers:

1)  I know this topic is controversial, and some folks are going to disagree with me.  If you can’t handle someone disagreeing with you, you might not want to continue reading.

2)  I am not in the business of telling folks how to raise their children, so this post does not come with the intention of preaching to anyone.

3)  My intention with this post is to make people think, and to share my opinion on this controversial topic.

If you are still reading, then great!  Let’s begin…

About a week ago, I was talking with a friend about the topic of children’s civil rights.  My friend said, “Isn’t it strange how we allow people to spank their children, but if you spanked your spouse it would be assault?”  Even though I have given this topic lots of thought over the past few years, this comment blew me a away.  In that one sentence, it seemed like she had given a perfect example to the situation in which many children find themselves in.  A spouse who is hit has a way better chance at being protected.  That person can go to the police (assuming the police aren’t corrupt), go to a shelter, or possibly attempt to fight back.  A child, on the other hand, has no recourse.  Unless the parent who is hitting them leaves visible marks, the abuse could simply be explained away as legal spanking.

According to Wikipedia,  Corporal Punishment is defined as a form of physical punishment that involves the deliberate infliction of pain as retribution for an offence, or for the purpose of disciplining or reforming a wrongdoer, or to deter attitudes or behaviour deemed unacceptable. The term usually refers to methodically striking the offender with the open hand or with an implement, whether in judicial, domestic, or educational settings.

Currently, forty-one of the United States consider corporal punishment of minors within domestic settings lawful.  Delaware outlawed it as child abuse in 2012.  Twenty-one states allow some form of corporal punishment while twenty-nine have banned the practice.  (Check out this list of the places that still allow teachers to hit children.)  When I read that many states think it’s ok for a teacher to hit a child, I just about lost my shit.  Really??!?!  I won’t even get into what I would do if my daughter came home and told me a teacher hit her.

Spanking Does Not Work:  My parents had two different philosophies on parenting.  If we did something wrong, my Dad would spank us, and there was rarely any discussion about it.  Having been spanked a few times in my life, I can assure you it doesn’t work.  For example, I can count the times I was spanked as a child.  I remember the spankings, how I felt during the spanking, and how I felt after.  That said, I can’t remember the reasons why I was spanked.  If spanking intends to teach a lesson, shouldn’t the child be able to remember the lesson?  I was so afraid of being spanked that I often completely missed the lesson I was supposed to be learning.

My mother, on the other hand, never spanked us.  I can remember distinctly the times that my mother punished me, and I remember what I was being punished for too.  Her way of discipline involved follow through and respect.  When me or one of my siblings was acting like a maniac, my mom would simply say something like, “one more word out of you and you will be left home next time we do something fun.”  My lesson came around the age of 4.  I was losing my mind in the movie theatre.  My mother warned me, but at the time I clearly didn’t believe her.  My fit only lasted about 60 seconds before my mother picked me up and left the theatre.  She made a point of bringing my brother to the movies soon after, and she left me at home with a sitter.  I remember being so sure she was kidding up until the point when she left me at the door crying and begging to go.  Later that day, my brother came home with a milkshake bragging about how great the movie was.  The lesson was learned.

Spanking vs. Beating:  When my father was young, it was common for parents to send their children outside to get a branch before being hit.  While it might seen perfectly normal to slap your child’s hand to keep them from touching the stove, or grab them by the arm somewhat forcefully to catch them from running out into the street, there is nothing ok about beating your child with a tree branch or a belt.  I don’t think it’s possible to NOT leave a mark when hitting someone with a belt or a branch.  The danger in our laws is that many people don’t know the difference between spanking and beating.  Our laws embolden abusive people, and leave many children feeling helpless and unsafe.  There is nothing in the law that states that people who cannot control their anger cannot spank.  In fact, our law makes it so that people believe they have the right to do whatever they want to their children.  That is…until the child turns up critically injured or dead.

I don’t believe that just because you choose not to hit your child, that child will then be out of control.  When I was a teacher, some of the most out of control children I had in my classroom where children who were being hit at home.  These children often repeated the same poor behaviors, even after their parents hit them.  When I walked into that classroom on the first day, I had a student throw a book at my head and another one run out of class and try to jump the fence to go home.  After a month as their teacher, however, I had them marching to lunch and asking permission to use the restroom.  I did this without spanking them, so why shouldn’t a parent be able to do that too?

I often think about the type of mother I want to be, and how I would like my daughter to see me.  I want my daughter to respect me, and I don’t want her respect for me to be tangled in fear.  I want her to know that I respect her, and I want her to feel safe.  I hope that she will tell me when there is a problem, and I don’t want her to worry that I will beat her up.  My daughter will know that I am a woman of my word.  She will grow up not wanting to disappoint me, and she will know right from wrong.  She will also know that even though our society may not respect the civil rights of a child, her mother does.

In December 2010, Luc struck his older son on the back so hard that the child had a bruise in the shape of Luc’s ring.  The child went to school and told his teachers about the abuse, and after some short court proceedings Luc was let off with no more than a slap on the wrist.  Luc was told that it was legal to spank your child, and that next time he should just be sure not to leave a mark.  Less than two years after that incident, Luc killed his youngest child.

Imagine living in a country where it were legal to spank your spouse.  Imagine it being legal to spank your spouse, and then one day finding yourself in a relationship with an abusive person.  Imagine having a bruise on your body, and your spouse being told by the police that the next time he beats you he should just make sure he doesn’t leave a mark.  That feeling you are getting right now in your gut just imagining what that would be like…that is likely not even half as terrifying as the feeling many children live with every day because of our laws.

Be the person you want your child to become.  Now let’s start some real discussion about how we treat children.

 

 

 

Divorce Corpse

 

“An unhinged man involved in a bitter child-custody battle tossed his toddler son to his death from the roof of a 52-floor building on the Upper West Side Sunday, then killed himself by jumping, law-enforcement sources said.”  - NYPOST.COM

“An Arizona woman is accused of fatally poisoning her two children a day before she was supposed to turn them over to their father as part of a custody agreement issued in a courtroom last week, an attorney for the woman’s ex-husband told NBC4 on Monday.” – NBCLOSANGELES.COM

“That day, Rob King bought each of his twin daughters a fish, signed them up for swim lessons and gave them a bath. Hours later, he pumped carbon monoxide into their bedroom and slit their throats…Rob and Kristi were in the midst of a bitter divorce and custody battle. Kristi had offered joint custody of the three-year-olds. Rob wanted the girls to himself.”  - WUSA9.COM

 

These are just a few examples amongst countless articles I have read since the murder of my son Prince.  It seems like nearly every week there is a new story about a parent, involved in a bitter custody battle, who kills their child.  The most disturbing part of reading these stories is knowing that each and every one of these killer parents was in court at some point and granted access to the child for whom he/she ended up killing.  Each one of these children could have been saved had our system not been so hell bent on parental rights and equal access.

This Friday, a documentary titled “Divorce Corps” hits the theaters.  From watching the previews, it would appear as though the focus of the movie is to expose the horrible Family Court system and how the fate of children has been turned into big business.  While I believe that the big business aspect is a part of the system that needs to be reformed (note:  I spent over 100k trying to save my son in this failed system), I have deep concerns about this movie.  There are parts of the movie that would lead the public to believe that because divorce and custody are such “big business” that people have more incentives to lie and make up false allegations.  The movie also seems to argue for presumptive joint custody.

Wendy Murphy, a former child abuse and sex crimes prosecutor and now adjunct professor and trial and appellate attorney specializing in crime victims, recently noted that a more appropriate title for a documentary on this issue would be “Divorce Corpse”.  Divorce Corpse would at least accurately label a system in which children are killed by parents who should never have had custody or access to them.

In case after reading about my story it isn’t already clear, let me point out why the troubling themes present in this movie are dangerous for children.

1.  All claims of abuse should be taken seriously:  This should be a no brainer, but unfortunately it isn’t.  The creators of this documentary seem to think that parents make sport out of launching false allegations of abuse.  It is my firm believe that while I am sure false allegations occur, this is not the norm.  Approaching all family court cases as if any abuse allegations are false is extremely dangerous.  Children who are abused will be sent to their abuser without investigation into the allegations.  I would rather see several innocent parents investigated than loose one child because the allegations were not taken seriously.

2.  The danger of presumptive joint custody:  Abusers love to talk about how the courts should automatically look toward equal access.  If the courts did this, parents would no longer have to worry about things in their lifestyle that are not conducive to a healthy environment for a child.  While there are plenty of situations where it is best for a child to have equal access to both parents (i.e. when both parents are good parents without psychological disorders or abusive tendencies), there are too many scary cases that come to court where presumptive joint custody would hurt the child.  The courts should not presume anything when there is a case before them.  There are no two cases alike when it comes to Family Court and each case should be evaluated based on the best interest of that particular child and not based on what is comfortable for the parents.  If the courts continue to try and split children down the middle, they will end up with more abused children in the system.

David Levy, who is currently one of the members of the Maryland Commission on Child Custody, wrote an Op Ed after the murder of Amy Castillo’s three children in Baltimore, MD.  In his editorial, he stated his belief that joint custody would have prevented the tragedy – as if Mark Castillo killed his three children just because he wasn’t awarded joint custody.  News flash Mr. Levy, Mark Castillo killed his children because he was a crazy monster and had he been denied access to those children, they would still be here today.

3.  Leave Parental Rights at the door please:  After reading the press on this documentary, I am hearing too much crap about parental rights.  We all know that both men and woman abuse children.  This shouldn’t be a fight about gender because parents should not be who the court is seeking to protect.  I didn’t spend over 100k in court because I felt like I needed more time with my son and just wanted to be a time hog.  I spent the money because I truly believed he was in danger, and it was the only legal way I knew how to try and save him.  I take no pleasure in knowing that I was right because it means that my son is dead.  I would have gladly laid my own rights as a parent on the table if it meant my son could have some.

Finally, I refer you back to the quotes that I started out with in this post.  While many cases don’t deal with life and death, a startling number of them do.  Making rash generalizations about the need for equal access in all cases, and assuming everyone who fears abuse is lying only harms children.  This movie discusses how many people profit off of the misfortune of those who end up in Family Court, and that is absolutely true.  More alarming, however, is the number of people who end up dead (or emotionally/physically abused) as a result of decisions made in those court rooms.

If you plan to see this movie, I encourage you to question the motives of those who created it.  While it is clear that there are many who profit from Family Court,I challenge you to think about exactly who benefits from a system that believes that the child’s best interest is served by equal access to both parents – regardless of the situation.  I would argue that only an abuser would want the courts to grant all parents equal access without regard to circumstance.

 

Crazy And Deranged

When I was with Luc, he always used to refer to the woman he dated before me as “crazy and deranged”.  He would force his son to call her by that name despite the fact that it was clear the child didn’t harbor the same ill will against her.  Though Luc claimed that they had broken up a whole year before we had met, he frequently spoke about how terrible the relationship was due to the physical and emotional abuse she put him through.  Of course, from what I now know of Luc, it was Luc who was physically and emotionally abusive.  Instead of the ex-girlfriend, it was Luc who was “crazy and deranged”.

Every so often, you run into someone who has been in an abusive relationship.  When you meet someone who claims this, whether male or female, you should be weary.  I say this knowing that someone will meet me in the future wondering about my story too.  They should be weary too because many times the abusive person claims that everyone else around them is crazy.  Their relationships have failed because they keep running into “crazy and deranged” women, etc.  These people always seem to have an excuse as to why there is constant chaos in their lives.  Luc would always say, “I must have been a bad person in another life to deserve all this back luck.”  Newsflash psychopath:  You are a bad person in this life – that is why all these bad things are happening.  I digress.

Before meeting Luc, I really didn’t know how to spot a crazy and deranged person.  By “crazy and deranged”, I don’t mean what we would typically think as someone who is insane.  This person isn’t always as obvious as a grown man walking around talking to his imaginary friend.  Sometimes, it takes a while for the person to show their true crazy.  That said, there are always clues and when you see those clues you should question them – listen to your internal warning system – and run.

Gaslighting:

For those of you who are not familiar with the term gaslighting, it is a form of mental abuse where false information is presented with the intent of making the victim doubt his or her own memory, perception and sanity.  This may range from denial by the abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.  For people who have been through this form of abuse, it can be terrifying, upsetting, and extremely confusing.  When I was going through it, I was dealing with pregnancy hormones at the same time.  Luc’s gaslighting episodes would have me questioning my own sanity and wondering why I had perceived certain events as abusive when Luc swore that the events never occurred.

If you have heard a variation on the following, you are probably dealing with someone who is gaslighting:

1)  “I wish I had a tape recorder because I would play back that conversation.  I never said ____.  You are making that up.”

2)  “That never happened, you must be imagining that.”

Luc’s Gaslighting:

Every single person who came into Luc’s life likely experienced some form of this type of abuse.  Before Luc’s mother was found laying dead on a plastic bag (police ruled this a suicide and claimed that she must have suffocated herself), Luc had her believing she had alzheimer’s disease.  While I never met the woman, I suspect that she didn’t have alzheimer disease.  I suspect that Luc was staging bizarre events to make this poor woman believe she was loosing her memory.

In December 2010, Luc beat his older son.  After the abuse, the boy went into school and told his teachers who then reported the abuse to police.  The child had physical evidence on his back in the form of Luc’s ring marks.  While Luc awaited trial for the domestic assault of his son, CPS believed it was best to put the child back in the home.  Luc spent the next three months before trial convincing this child that he had imagined the entire event.  At one point, his son asked him, “don’t you remember punching me in the chest?”  Luc responded by saying, “that never happened!  You must have imagined that!”  The boy’s face dropped and he looked both terrified and confused.  He then dropped his head and quietly uttered, “maybe I did imagine it.”

A few days after giving birth to Prince, I was hungry and went downstairs to get some food.  Luc had left us in a room upstairs, and disappeared for days.  I knew I wasn’t supposed to be going up and down the stairs, but I also knew I couldn’t starve myself.  As soon as Prince fell asleep, I put him in his crib and went to the kitchen.  As I was returning upstairs, I saw Luc glaring at me from the top of the stairs.  “What are you doing,” he asked in an angry tone.  “I was hungry.  I am having trouble with my milk coming in….I have to eat or else Prince won’t get enough milk.”  As I stood there explaining, I was tearing up at the fact that I even needed to explain why I was getting food.  “You shouldn’t be eating all that food.  You need to lose weight,” he said.  I immediately broke down crying.  I was sore, tired, and hungry.  Here I was with a bagel and some greek yogurt, and my son’s father was making it seem like I was eating chocolate cake and bon bons.  As I cried, Luc started yelling more.  “What is wrong with you,” he yelled.  “I am just trying to help you!  You are overreacting.  It must be your hormones.”

There is no rehab for a psychopath:

People often wonder if abusive people can ever change.  I am not in the camp of people who believe that they can change.  If someone is exhibiting the above mentioned behavior, chances are that this person is far past the point of rehabilitation.  If you stay with a person like this, you will be driven crazy by the constant mental abuse and life chaos.

One of the most dangerous things about these people, perhaps, is their ability to remain calm as they fabricate bizarre scenarios to make those around them look criminal.  For example, George Zimmerman has been in the public eye for the last few years.  He first entered our radar when he shot a teenage boy in cold blood.  Of course,  he created a whole story about how this teenage boy (who was only armed with skittles and iced tea) attacked him.  Since the teenage boy was dead, Zimmerman’s story was the one that stood up in court.  In the past few months, two different women have accused Zimmerman of domestic assault.  According to Zimmerman, both of these women are crazy; however, in these two cases Zimmerman is the only common denominator.

The most recent 911 tapes released in the Zimmerman domestic assault charge brought me back to a bad place.  Listening to this man who had just pulled a gun on his girlfriend calmly explain to the police that she had been the aggressor made me sick to my stomach.  For years, Luc got away with so many violent crimes against women and children.  When accused, he created fantastic stories while remaining calm.  His victims, however, are never calm because they have had to endure the trauma of the abusive incident.

My greatest regret in life allowed me to experience one of the greatest joys in my life.  I biggest regret in life is my relationship with Luc, but everyone who has read my story knows that without that relationship I would not have had the opportunity to meet my angel (Prince).  I am forever thankful and grateful for having known that child.  That said, if there is any wisdom that I can impart on other women – if you see any of the above behavior from your partner, do not have a child with this person.  If you have a child with this person, leave now and prepare yourself for the fight of your life.  Sometimes I wonder if Prince would have survived if I had stayed with Luc.  About two seconds after I start thinking that, I remember that Luc is now an “alleged” serial killer.  Not only would Prince likely have still not survived, but I likely wouldn’t have either.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Incredibly High Threshold

In this past Sunday’s edition of The Washington Post, there was an excellent article that highlighted a case where the safety of a child seemed to merely be an after thought (if it was a thought at all).  I commend the Washington Post for continuing to expose the ugly realities of Family Court, particularly those in my former home State of Maryland (the same State that endorsed the murder of my son).  This particular piece shined a light on a custody war that is currently ongoing where a mother is trying to protect her four year old son from his father.  While the courts admit that the child’s father (Andrew Monjica) has been convicted of sexually abusing a female minor (and is currently listed on the sex offender registry), he has been granted unsupervised, overnight visits with his son.  The court defends its decision to expose this child to a known sexual predator because it believes all parents have “a constitutional right to raise their children.”

According to the Washington Post, the mother of the child, Gloria Faulkner, says, “the court has taken away my power to protect my son.”  While I normally try to stay away from gender wars in Family Court (as I feel that the Child’s Rights should always come first), I find it curious that in this case the court focuses on a constitutional right that appears only relevant when it comes to the father.  If a parent has a constitutional right to raise his/her child, doesn’t that also include having the right to protect that child from harm?  Why is it that the court is only focusing on the right of this father?  What about the child’s right to be kept safe from a sexual abuser?  What about the mother’s right to protect her child?

Gloria Faulkner continues to fight to try and protect her son from his abusive father.  (Yes, I believe someone who is a convicted sex offender of this nature should always be classified as a child abuser.)  Despite clear and convincing evidence that this man is capable of sexually abusing a child (he did actually get convicted beyond a reasonable doubt), the court does not think the mother’s argument for supervised visitation meets “the threshold”.  Maryland law requires that in situations where there has been a finding of abuse or neglect, the court should determine whether future abuse or neglect is likely and, unless there is no likelihood, deny access or require supervision.  There have been several studies that show 90% of sex offenders will re-offend, and they are four times more likely to commit the crime again.  So given this known statistic, a rational person would realize that future abuse is likely and make a motion to protect the child – despite the “rights” of the parent.  If this case doesn’t meet that threshold, I question if any case really would meet this incredibly high threshold.

Two weeks before my son’s murder, I vividly remember sitting down with my attorneys and pleading with them to file an emergency order to keep visits supervised.  As I begged my attorneys to help me protect my son, Prince sat sleeping peacefully in his stroller.  My attorneys refused and told me that my concerns did not meet the threshold of the court for a change in the existing order.  Luc had been “cleared” by a psychologist and deemed “safe” to be around Prince without supervision.  They warned that if I didn’t stop trying to fight my son’s father, I would end up losing custody.  They were right about several things.  They were correct that my complaints didn’t meet threshold (because the threshold was simply a statement on paper which couldn’t be met no matter what the circumstances).  They were also correct that I would eventually lose my son – though not the way they thought I would.

As I cried and screamed at them that day.  Before leaving in a pool of tears, I asked them something that I am sure haunts them to this day.  I asked them, “what is it going to take?  What is the threshold?  Am I going to have to bring my son to you in a body bag after Luc has killed him for the courts to believe that access should be restricted?”  One of my attorneys smirked and commented that I was over-reacting.  The next time I spoke to them I called from the hospital.  At that time, I wasn’t aware that my son wouldn’t survive what he had been through.  I asked the lawyer what I should do.  His response was, “we will file that emergency motion on Monday.”  Later that same evening, I called my attorney back and said, “Don’t bother filing that motion – it’s too late…he’s dead.”  That Monday my attorney had planned to file the motion was the day of my son’s autopsy.  It was too late for Prince, but the threshold had been met.

I don’t know Gloria Faulkner personally, but I feel connected to her because of the pain I know she is enduring at this moment.  She is not being permitted to be her son’s mother, despite the fact that she has been granted sole legal and primary physical custody of him.  I, too, never felt as though I was allowed to be my son’s mother.  My constitutional right to protect my child and my son’s constitutional right to live didn’t matter when we walked into Family Court.  All that mattered was that my son had access to both of his biological parents – even if that meant playing Russian Roulette with his life.

When it comes to cases where there are founded allegations of previous child abuse, or other behavior that would pose a clear danger to a child, the  offending parent’s “constitutional right” to raise their child should not be the court’s primary concern – it should, in fact, be void.  The primary concern needs to be the safety of the child.  Until the courts realize that current laws, which are supposed to protect children from an abusive parent, are meant to be enforced vice liberally interpreted – children will continue to be abused, children will continue to be murdered, and the basic civil rights of these children will continue to be trampled on by a system that has been charged with their protection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family Court – Nuke And Pave

The Family Court system in America is a disaster area.  My personal experience has been on the Family Court battlefield in the State of Maryland, but I know Maryland is not alone in its level of chaos.  It is certainly not alone in the number of children who are abused and die as a result of decisions made in these courts.  While I understand that not every case ends as poorly as mine did (with the unnecessary and brutal murder of a child), the courts as they stand are breeding grounds for sociopathic people to terrorize both their children and their former partners.  Since the murder of my son, many desperate parents have sent me letters asking me for advice.  I have also gotten letters from fellow Children’s Rights advocates who seek my input on how to best change the system.  In my best attempt to remain as positive as possible, given the dire realities that we face, my best advice for the change that needs to happen on a systemic level is as follows:

NUKE AND PAVE

(Note:  I don’t mean literally “nuke”.  I am not a violent person, and would never suggest blowing something up.  By “nuke”, I mean “get rid of the failures and start with a new foundation”.)

This might appear pessimistic, however, it is my strong opinion that an institution that fails so many children to the degree of sanctioning murder – needs to be completely overhauled.  A friend of mine, and follow advocate for Children, recently sent me the following link:

MD Commission on Child Custody Decision Making

To spare those of you with only a mild interest (or not a ton of time to read legislative crap) the time it takes to go through this lengthy document, I will summarize:  The State of Maryland is creating a “Commission on Child Custody Decision Making.”  This sounds great right?  On the surface it sounds like progress; however, it could also serve as a temporary bandage on a system that needs open-heart surgery.

 

The Commission:

The commission has 14 areas it is going to be reviewing.  Five public forums will be held (The county where my son’s murder was sanctioned has been left off of this list) so that the commission can take under advisement public opinion on these issues.  Below are the issues the commission is set to address where I will focus my attention:

1)   To ensure custody orders are more uniform, fair, and equitable.

My comments:  This statement screams “parental rights”.  It shouldn’t be about what is equal for the parents.  It should be about what is the best environment for the child.  If one or both of the parents is unstable, and shows a history of abuse and poor decision making, why should that parent be entitled to equal access to the child?

2)   Study and consider the adverse effects of child custody litigation and ways the court system can minimize those effects.

My comments:  It should be common knowledge in the legal community that the cases that make it to court most certainly involve at least one parent who suffers from a personality disorder.  If the court wanted to minimize the effects that litigation has on the child, it should focus on how the parents got to court in the first place.  Just trying to get the parents out of court is not going to save the child from the negative impact of dealing with a sociopathic parent.

3)   Study how to promote and ensure that children have ongoing relationships with each parent.

My comments:  This is similar to point number one.  In a perfect world where sociopathic people didn’t have children, both point number one and this point would be a non-issue.  Instead of “ongoing relationships”, how about focusing on “healthy and safe relationships”?  Many children have ongoing relationships with abusive parents.  Many of these children either require extensive therapy to try and reverse the damage or become abusers themselves.

4)   Study how to maximize the involvement of both parents in each child’s life.

My comments:  It continues to baffle me how the government often believes that it’s in the child’s best interest to try and get a deadbeat parent involved in his/her child’s life.  I have seen so many odd cases where the court will try and “encourage” a parent to spend more time with their child, even if it should be clear that the person’s involvement is not in the child’s best interest.  It is better to have one good parent than one good one and one abusive one.  News flash:  Good parents don’t need to be encouraged to be involved with their child.

5)   Study whether or not there is any gender discrimination in custody decisions in Maryland and, if so, how to address such discrimination.

My comments:  While many times it appears as though currently there is a war on motherhood, in this back bending attempt to promote Father’s Rights, gender discrimination should be irrelevant if we are focusing on Children’s Rights.  Shouldn’t it?

6)   Make recommendations regarding the most effective manner in which to facilitate cooperative decision- making by parents involved in child custody proceedings as it relates to their children.

My comments:  Going back to an earlier point, most cases that end up in court include at least one sociopath.  The sooner the courts realize that it is impossible to negotiate or “facilitate cooperative decision-making” with a terrorist, the sooner they will realize this point is ludicrous.  During my custody case, both Luc and I were ordered to go to a two- day co-parenting class (6 hours total).  I attended this course at the expense of leaving my boob diva of a breast fed child (who was not yet used to taking the bottle and cried with Grandma for six hours straight); however, Luc chose not to attend at all. Those are six hours I will never get back with my son.

7)   Study how to ensure that child custody determinations involving parents with mental health issues are handled in a fair and even manner based on actual evidence and not presumed limitations.

My comment:  Now this one is an interesting point and scratches the surface of a major problem.  The issue with this point, however, is that it assumes that mental health assessments are done appropriately.  The judge in my case suspected that Luc had a serious mental health issue based on a preponderance of evidence; however, given that the judge was not a mental health professional, he ordered Luc to get a forensic psychological assessment.  Luc found a school psychologist, who specialized in child autism and was friends and co-workers with his older son’s therapist, and paid for what appeared to be a one-sided and negligent custody evaluation from a woman with no experience in adult forensic testing.  This test was the evidence the judge needed to protect my son.  Even after it became clear that Luc was disordered (when he drowned his own child for life insurance money), this therapist continued to practice and likely still appears in court potentially ruining the lives of other children and families.

 

What’s Missing?

After going through all 14 (yes, I excluded some of the ones that focused on cultural sensitivity issues and other periphery issues that I don’t believe are at the root of the problem), I didn’t see one point that talked about a review of the cases that went terribly wrong. Wouldn’t the commission benefit from local case studies that are right at their fingertips and a part of public record?  In addition to my own horrific case, they could review Amy Castillo’s case.  After begging a judge to pay attention to the deterioration of her husband’s mental health, Amy’s protection order was denied.  Her husband then went on to do exactly what he told Amy he would do – he drowned all three children to death in the bathtub of a Baltimore hotel room.

 

Children’s Rights:

 

Children have no rights in America.  Looking at the Family Court System, it often reminds me of slave times.  Laws were made that directly impacted the slaves, yet they had no voice in the process.  Slaves were treated like property, killed, and “owner’s rights” always came first.  Children are treated much in the same way.  Our laws are designed so that parents are given “the right” to do what they wish to their children.  It is only after the child is murdered when that parent faces any sort of loss in their rights, but by then it is too late for the child.

When I am asked what I think about this commission or the state of Family Law in general, I always think about Prince.  Prince never had a chance in this system because his father intended on killing him.  His father wanted access, would cry on cue on the stand when talking about how much he missed his son, and his father effectively gamed our broken system.  Prince should have had a right to live.  He should have had a right to be happy, healthy, and safe.  Prince didn’t have those rights, but the court succeeded in making sure that Luc’s rights were never in jeopardy.

 

Nuke and pave Maryland.  If you want to fix it, start over and make Children’s Rights your foundation.

 

In Loving Memory of Prince

Today, my son Prince would have been two years old…had he survived.  I have posted a memorial video for Prince on YouTube and ask that everyone share this video liberally (Link provided below).

While many people who had a part in what happened to my son would likely rather forget about what happened, and certainly want to forget and/or deny their role in it, I want them to have to see his face on his birthday and imagine the life he should have had.

For those of you who don’t know our story, and are coming to this site for the first time, I hope that you will take the time to understand what happened and what needs to happen in order to protect other children from the same fate that my son suffered.  After fighting a long, expensive, and emotionally devastating Custody War (I don’t call it battle because a battle seems more finite than what happens in Family Court), Judge Michael Algeo in Montgomery County, MD ordered that my son have unsupervised visitation with his father.  This decision came after Dr. Margaret Wong (from Ashburn Psychological Services in Ashburn, VA) testified in court that my son’s father was psychologically sound and that Prince would be safe in his care.

On July 12, 2012, the court ordered that my son spend unsupervised time with his father each week – despite the fact that several witnesses testified to the disturbing history of abuse and murder that surrounded his father.  My son only lasted about four unsupervised visits before he was brutally drowned during the visit on October 20,2012.  A week after my son was murdered, I learned from police that his father had taken out over $560,000 in life insurance policies on Prince.  On the policy paperwork, he lied to the insurance companies saying that he had custody of Prince and that I was dead.  It was then that I realized that his involvement in Family Court was for the sole purpose of gaining access so that he could murder my son and financially profit off of the murder.

While I should be celebrating this day with a bubbly, healthy little two-year old, I am forced to mourn the life he should have had.  I wish that I could say my son was the first and would be the last child to die this way; however, from what I have learned about our family court system I am sure this will not be the case.  Until we as Americans start to realize this systemic problem, children will continue to suffer.  When two parents go to court about custody of a child, the discussion should never be focused on the rights of the parents.  The only things that should come into play are the rights of the child.  My son’s civil right to life was denied.

Sadly, the Montgomery County, MD court is not the only part of the justice system that should be questioning their decisions.  It is my firm belief that police corruption in the Prince William County, VA Police department has assisted in helping my son’s father evade the law for several years and assisted in this man collecting a large group of victims.  I will not call officers out by name, however, in time I believe they will have to answer for their own sins in connection with some terrible crimes.  If it weren’t for the work of a few honorable officers in the Manassas, VA Police Department, I am not sure if this man would have ever been taken off of the streets.

My son is an angel.  He was an angel before he was born, during life, and certainly remains so to this day.  In his 15 months of life, he made more of an impact than many people do in an entire lifetime.  I ask of you all to please share this video with as many people as possible.  I also ask that regardless of whether your life is personally impacted by what happens in Family Court, that you continue to talk about how dangerously flawed our courts have become.  My son suffered terribly, but there are still other children who are forced by the courts to live in abusive situations every day despite the pleas of a protective parent.  These children will one day be adults and the problems that began in Family Court will come knocking on the door of every American.

I thank you all for your incredible support over these past months.  Without the support of my family, friends, and my readers, this would be infinitely more difficult.

Please help me spread the word about this issue and help me keep my son’s memory alive by sharing this video:

In Loving Memory Of Prince

My son’s father is currently awaiting trial for first degree murder in the Prince William County Adult Penitentiary.  For more information on this case, here are some of the better articles that have been written.

Death of a toddler raises questions in Montgomery, Pr. William

Montgomery County Court System Failed Prince McLeod Rams

Mother of dead infant, Prince McLeod Rams, files civil suit against Ashburn psychology firm

 Prince McLeod Rams Death Raises Questions In Joaquin Rams, Shawn K. Mason Cases

Mystery Deepens in Joaquin Rams Case

 

 

 

Monkey In An Orange Jumpsuit

It’s been a while since I have spoken directly about what is happening in the State’s case against Luc.  Anyone who follows my blog is aware that since the murder of my son, I have spent nearly all of my waking hours (when not in my full-time job trying to stay afloat financially) fighting for justice.  Though the justice system moves much slower than most victims would like, this past Monday was a small victory for justice in what is sure to be a long and tiresome journey.  While I have taken on a lot of issues lately on this blog related to child welfare, domestic violence, and family law, for today’s post I want to share with you what the pre-trial was like for me.  I hope this will allow you all to see a small window into what our “justice” system is like for the victims.

Before Court:

The night before the trial, I couldn’t sleep.  I spent hours wondering how I would feel when I would have to come face to face with my son’s murderer.  I also wondered how I would be able to contain myself from flying over the witness stand and slapping both him and his attorney across the face.  After spending months attempting to properly grieve for my son, while making sure all of the people involved in signing my son’s death papers (attorneys, judges, police, fraudulent therapists) couldn’t hide from their role in this horrible situation, I was left to think about how to deal with something that might seem like a fairly simple task – walking into a court room and telling the story all over again to a judge.

The morning of the trial, I woke up in a Manassas hotel and looked over the clothes I had packed.  ‘What do I even wear to the trial for my son’s murderer,’ I thought as I stared down at my clothes.  I immediately remembered having a similar feeling when I was forced to decide what to wear to my 15 month old son’s funeral.  ‘Was this really my life,’ I thought in disbelief.  ‘Who does this?!?!’

The Arrival:

I arrived to the court in full on mafia-like style.  I have a huge family (who some jokingly refer to as “The Catholic Mafia”) walking along side me.  We were a force to be reckoned with – several angry Mamas who had nothing to lose.  My father joined us later in the day as well as Shawn Mason’s family who were also out to see Justice served.  Walking in with all these people beside me, I felt so proud.  I thought to myself, ‘this is how we roll Luc…you had no idea what you messed with here.’

Shortly after I arrived, the media started rolling in.  I took that opportunity to point them in the direction of Luc’s supporters (all two of them).  For the purpose of this blog, we will just refer to his main supporter as “the boyfriend”.  Luc’s boyfriend, in true psychopath fashion, saw me pointing him out to the media and immediately called for police protection as if I was going to bother touching him.  This display of ridiculousness made me chuckle as it reminded me of the pathetic antics Luc used to play in Family Court when he tried to make the world believe he was the victim.  The boyfriend was terrified.  He was not terrified that I would hit him, but he was terrified at my power to expose him for his involvement in this whole nightmare.

The Entrance Of The Monkey In The Orange Jumpsuit:

As the judge entered the room, my heart started beating faster as I anticipated the arrival of the devil himself.  A few minutes later, Luc was led into the room in an orange jump suit by a police officer.  To my surprise, he didn’t look much like I had remembered at all.  His hair was matted to his head and frizzy, his skin a grayish tint, and his face was puffy as if he had been eating a few too many donuts while in prison.  At first I had to do a double take to even make sure it was him, but then I saw the menacing look in his eye and the familiar smirk that came across his face as he noticed a full courtroom.  He looked like a caged monkey who had just been taken for a walk by the prison guards.

While I had been worried about how I would feel in this moment, I immediately felt a huge sense of relief as I realized that I would walk out of this courthouse at the end of the day without Luc in my life.  I would leave his pathetic existence behind me in that courthouse – the fight would end here.  This wasn’t even my fight – now it was the State who had the job of exposing the horror to the court.

After being sworn in, me and the other witnesses were told to leave the courtroom and wait for our turn to be called to the witness stand.  I walked out of the courtroom confident that this day would be miserable for Luc as he would finally have to face the reality of what he had done.  Family Court had been full of second chances and lies, however, I had a sinking suspicion that criminal court might play out a little differently.

On The Witness Stand:

My testimony seemed to be simple.  I explained my last morning with Prince and how he had been feeling.  I told the judge about how I had let Prince sleep in that morning, and how he followed me around the house saying “Mama, Mama…” in his quiet voice.  I talked about how I brought him to the grocery store right before the visit and let him run around and get out some energy.  We played tag that morning as he laughed, sang, and spoke to all the grocery store employees.

When it was time for cross-examination, Luc’s attorney was clearly full of misinformation and intent on filling the room with smoke and clouds.  His line of questioning was such that he seemed to be trying to set the stage to say that my son had been sick and that somehow I had hidden this fact from Luc.  After setting the record straight, and informing the judge that I had provided Luc will all the necessary information on how to care for a baby (in writing and via the supervisor of the exchanges), it seemed as though Luc’s attorney had nowhere to go.  He fidgeted with his notes and stuttered that he had no further questions.  His questions about seizures annoyed me.  I wanted to scream and inform him of the large elephant in the room by saying, “Sir – I hate to state the obvious here, but seizures don’t cause drowning.”  As I walked past the defense table, I turned and looked straight at Luc (who was actively avoiding eye contact as he looked down at his bright orange attire) and said, “ugh…baby killer…good riddance.”

The Ruling:

Once all of the witnesses had been called, we were all allowed back in the courtroom to hear the judge’s ruling.  Since it was only a hearing to establish probable cause and whether or not the case should go to trial, I wasn’t too worried about the judge setting Luc free that day.  (Though I am sure that Luc believed he would be going home with his boyfriend that very afternoon)  Oddly, as I walked back into the courtroom, one of the police officers warned me not to have an outburst once the verdict was read.  In that moment, I think my jaw might have dropped a little as I gave the officer a confused look.  I wondered if in my stressful morning I had dressed in Jerry Springer guest type attire or if this was a common warning given to all victims of such a hideous crime.

After shaking my head and assuring the man that I would not release my inner “angry black woman”, I came back to my seat to listen to Luc’s fate.  The defense lawyer muddled through his closing statement and tried to make it appear as though he had more medical experience than the medical examiner.  The prosecution, however, was not phased by his feeble attempts to shift the focus and hijack the discourse.  She elegantly and simply spoke to the judge and reminded the court of why we were there, and that the judge was only supposed to determine that a crime had occurred and that Luc was likely the person who committed the crime.

Luckily, this did not appear hard for the judge as he quickly noted his belief that the threshold had been met, and that this matter should be sent onward to the grand jury.  Of course, in true Luc fashion, he began his monkey like dance in his chair and a scorned look came across his face as if he had been the person wronged by the system.  For all the sane people in the room, excluding Luc’s boyfriend of course, a wave of relief overcame us all.

Upon my exit from the courtroom, Luc’s boyfriend decided to make an attempt to show his dismay by starting toward me as if he had something he wanted to say.  As he opened his mouth to verbally abuse me (likely in an attempt to defend his man), I simply said to him, “you are next to be in that orange suit *****”.  I walked out of the courtroom with my head held high – happy that I would not be followed by the monkey wearing the orange jump suit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unrealistic Expectations

I couldn’t stop shaking.  I knew that every word coming out of my mouth would likely not make any sense.  This was the last time I would testify in an attempt to save my son’s life.  As I walked to the stand, I felt as if my legs would buckle beneath me.  Judge Algeo watched me closely and I knew this was going to have to be the show of my life.  Sadly, no matter how much I tried to “keep my emotions in check” as I had been coached many times by my attorneys – this was my son I was fighting for and I couldn’t shut off my maternal instincts.  I hadn’t eaten in a week, hadn’t slept in days, and probably should have been on some sort of anti-depressant medication (if, in fact, there are meds that can help a mother not feel as terrified as I felt in that moment).

My testimony went by in a blur.  Everything I had planned to say didn’t come out right.  I begged Judge Algeo to wait until Prince was old enough to speak before he would consider unsupervised  visits.  As I sat there terrified and shaking, Luc sat back and smirked.  He knew he had checked all of the boxes (or at least lied his way through the court’s tests) and he appeared to enjoy my very visible pain.  Prudence Upton, Luc’s very aggressive attorney, seemed to also enjoy my suffering.  She spent a considerable amount of time chastising me for not making plans for Luc to spend time with Prince at chuck -e- cheese on his first birthday.  I remember thinking to myself, ‘seriously woman?  You are worried about chuck-e-cheese and I am worried about my son living to see his second birthday.’

Unfortunately it appeared as though Chuck-e-cheese was a bigger deal than I thought it was.  Judge Algeo and Prudence seemed to expect that it was my job that week to make sure that Luc didn’t have to lift a finger in order to spend time with his son.  I was supposed to contact the supervisor and request more time, plan for a party that Luc would enjoy, and make sure everything was rolled out on a red carpet.  Luc never lifted a finger nor requested extra time outside of court.  That day, however, Luc was the calm and collected father who could shed a controlled tear on the stand and I was the mother who had been painted as a basket case – a scorned woman – and over dramatic.

 

A reflection of myself:

 

A couple of nights ago, I received a frantic phone call from a mother who is going through a terrifying custody case with an abusive (soon to be ex) husband.  She has a two year old son whom she is fighting for.  As I spoke to her on the phone, I thought to myself, ‘this woman sounds like a basket case.’  After our conversation was over,  however, I realized that I may as well have just been speaking to myself  about seven months ago.  This woman had a right to be frantic – act crazy – be terrified – or whatever emotion her body allowed her to have.  She was in the fight of her life struggling through a thankless and helpless system that fully intended on harming her son for the sake of “parental rights”.

 

To give you some background, the father in this case had assaulted this two year old boy and this abuse was documented by Child Protective Services.  In fact, the CPS worker came into court to testify in the hearing when this mother tried to get a protective order against the father for her son.  After hearing the testimony of the abuse, the judge denied the protective order calling the bruises found on the boy “merely negligence” vice abuse.  The judge admitted that he called it “negligence” because he did not want to end all visitation.  This judge chose to  protect the father over this two year old little boy.

 

Upon hearing that the protective order for her son was denied, and visits with the abusive father would begin, this mother broke down crying in the courtroom.  The judge reportedly called her out publicly and told her to “put on [her] game face.”  He continued to tell her that he was watching her every move and that this sort of “behavior” would be used against her in his future rulings.

 

Unrealistic expectations:

Ever since I have gone through my own Custody War, I have learned many tough lessons.  One of the toughest lessons that I have learned is that the courts have turned into a war zone.  In this war zone, women are expected to stop being mothers who worry about their children.  In fact, showing fear in the courtroom could be one of the very things that will label you as a “parental alienator”.  We are supposed to forget about having been abused, turn our children over to men we know have abused and will abuse again, and we are supposed to do all of this enthusiastically and with a smile on our faces.

 

To expect a woman who has lived through the chaos created by a psychopath to “remain calm” in family court as the abuse continues, and while she is trying to protect her innocent child, is asking her to leave her humanity at the door.  Any woman who could walk into family court when the stakes are that high and remain calm – I would question her mental state.  I have heard that the family court used to be slanted toward women.  I sure wish I had been going through the system at that time. When I went through, I experienced what seemed like a war on motherhood.  I was told I wasn’t allowed to be a mother to my son, but that I was required to make sure that Luc could be his father despite what he had done that proved he was not capable of being a real father.

 

As absurd as it sounds, I am still waiting for the day when I get a call from my family attorneys telling me that Judge Algeo has requested that I provide Luc with some time to visit Prince’s grave.  I can also imagine that in this same phone call I would be asked to provide Luc with a car, since he doesn’t have one, and a packed lunch for the long trip.  Some of you might be thinking that sounds absurd, but not as absurd as the moment when I stood over my son’s dying body listening to nurses discuss how they wanted to create a hospital “visitation schedule” for the man who had just murdered my son.

While nurses were discussing allowing this man to visit, I was told that if I said a word to Luc that I would be taken to a psychiatric ward and kept away from my son in his final hours.  That – ladies and gentlemen – is the state of our society.

Justice for baby Prince

True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Over the past two years, there have been many moments in which I have been ashamed of my country.  I grew up believing that if I was an honest person, who worked hard to positively contribute to society, I would always be able to turn to our justice system for help in dangerous times.  When I needed help, however, the justice system was not there for me.  The justice system allowed my sister to be assaulted and for the criminal who assaulted her to walk free, for me to be falsely arrested instead of protected from my abuser, for the Family Courts to ignore the dangerousness of my son’s father, and for several public servants to place my son in the hands of a disordered man who I believe murdered my 15 month old baby boy.  I have lived a nightmare since the day Luc walked into my life.  This nightmare reached epic proportions the day I left him, and since my son’s death has reached the unimaginable.

I am not alone in my quest for peace.  Every person (man or woman) who has found themselves in the grip of a psychopath comes to a point when they also crave peace.  As MLK Jr. stated so eloquently, peace does not only come with the absence of tension.  To a large degree, the tension I had with Luc no longer exists – Prince is gone and Luc has no more control over the person I cared most for in life – my son.  The tension was also reduced the day I realized that Luc was a lost cause, and that I truly didn’t care what happened to him (beyond justice for my son).  Though I will never again be in family court with this demon, it is impossible to truly have peace until justice is served.  While many men and women who have dealt with a psychopath may never receive the justice they deserve, today me and my son received a part of justice I feared may never come – Lucifer was arrested this morning.

The medical examiner report ruled my son’s death a homicide and that he was drowned.  Since my son was only 15 months old, Lucifer could be facing capital murder charges and the death penalty.

This piece of justice feels bitter sweet.  Had the justice system been there for us before now, my son would be here to celebrate this moment with me.  I am not sure that I will ever be able to forgive my country for the terrible injustices that led to the death of my son.  I am not sure if I will ever forgive myself for following the law and waiting for justice my son would not live long enough to see.  That being said, I realize that if I sit back and merely complain without attempting to change the system – I become part of the problem.  When I read the words of MLK Jr., and think about the incredible legacy that he left behind, I feel hopeful.  While many of the injustices he felt during his lifetime have improved, it was not without struggle.  Right now, we are facing new injustices and new problems.  We are facing a crisis directed at our children.  It has become part of my legacy (and the legacy of my son Prince) to see to it that no other child faces the same fate and no other mother will have to bury her son in this way.

One of the most vivid memories I have of my son happened on one summer day (a few short months before he died) when I was dancing with him up and down the driveway in front of our house.  I looked into his beautiful brown eyes and asked, “Are you going to dance with Mama on your wedding day Mr. Prince?”  Prince was laughing hysterically as I spun him around in circles to the silent music both of us imagined.  While my son was not verbal, if he could talk his answer would have been “No”.  It would have been “no” because Prince would never have a wedding day.  He would never be old enough to get married, and we would never again dance together.  I tell this story not to ask for pity, but to ask for your help in finding the justice my son, and every child, deserves.  Justice does not come from one mother screaming at the top of her lungs about what happened to her son – it comes from the power of many.  The civil rights movement was not a movement based on the words of one brave man; it was a movement afoot in a country that was tired of living in the shadows of injustice.  I am tired of living in a country where the courts allow children to be abused and killed by disordered parents and caregivers.  How about you?

Today was a big day for justice, but it was only a piece of the story and a pebble on the path of justice for our children.  I have often told you that this blog is not about Lucifer (that is one of the main reasons that I don’t use his true name).  Today, however, I want to share a letter with all of my readers that I have written to Luc (but will never send).  I imagine this letter could be used over and over again for many woman (and some men too) who have escaped (or hope to escape) a psychopath.  I encourage everyone to share their “goodbye letters” in the comments of this post.  Say goodbye and good riddance to the psychopath in your life and pledge to have “no contact” with this person in both the physical and in thought.  This is the first time I will address Luc – and it will also be the last.

 

Dear Lucifer,

I regret a lot of things in life, but I will never regret leaving you.  While we were together, I wrote love letter after love letter – hoping and praying that you would one day prove to me that you were the man I wanted you to be.  You never proved anything, because being that man was impossible.  You have taken a lot from me, but you have not ruined me.  I was strong before I met you, but now you have assisted me in becoming wiser and stronger than I ever believed I could be.  Prince was an angel.  I have always known that he saved my life, but now I realize that he likely saved many others.  Sometimes I think Shawn sent him here to protect her son from you.  Maybe your mother Alma sent him so that you would stop killing, conning, leaching, and abusing.   Prince’s true mission was one that I will never completely know until I am in heaven along with him.

Today is the beginning of the rest of my life.  After this moment, I will begin to forget about you.  I will move on, fall in love again, have more children, and one day remember Prince without remembering his unfortunate sperm donor.   I am fairly certain that you will remember me forever.  You are likely thinking that your current situation is my fault.  Don’t be confused Luc, this is part of your disorder.  You always said that you wondered if you were being punished for the bad things you had done in a past life (because you didn’t have money, were not a successful singer, or whatever thing you chose to complain about that day).  I am here to tell you the honest to God truth – you are being punished for the terrible things you are doing in this life.  Everything that is happening to you right now is of your own doing.  That very large and angry man who wants to make you his girlfriend (or maybe already has) is sharing that jail cell with you because of what you have done to the people who tried to love you.

You have destroyed everything that could have been good in your life.  Now, you have nothing.  You have become what you have feared the most – powerless and utterly irrelevant.  In jail you will probably still tell stories about how you believe you were in concert with Brittany Spears, Rihanna, or whatever other artist you will claim to personally know at the time.  The difference, however, is that now everyone knows how delusional you are so these stories will be nothing more than the stories of a crazy man who sits in prison for the rest of his miserable life.

Enjoy the media attention and the televised trial because it will be the last stage you will perform on.  Eventually, you will disappear along with the average news cycle, and nobody will think about you as you rot in jail where you belong.  And remember – you are sitting there because of the things you have done.  You took Prince’s life after only 15 months.  My little boy touched more people in a positive way than you will have in your lifetime.  In fact, I would challenge you to find just one person who will admit (after they learn who you really are) that you have touched their life in a positive way.

Good riddance Lucifer.  You are finally where you were meant to be – in chains, powerless, and forever in jail.

Truthfully and finally,

Prince’s Mama