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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Just something to think about...

My heart is hurting tonight.

Today, the son of one of my oldest friends was sentenced for a crime that he committed.

The sentence, while harsh, is fair. He screwed up. He screwed up in a really big, really bad way. There's no getting around that. He admitted it. He has apologized and is remorseful, but that doesn't change anything.

I met this young man several years ago. I was impressed with his attitude, his demeanor, his respect that he showed to those around him.

But sometime after that, he made mistakes. There is no excuse for what he did.

I have watched the reports about him in the media. Most of them have been neutral. Fact-based. Emotionless. This happened, and then this happened, and he did this, and then this.

But that's where the neutrality ended. Hiding behind their monitors, the keyboard warriors struck out at this young man and his family. His family, who had nothing to do with the crimes committed, was attacked.

His mother - my friend - was called every name in the book. She was blamed for his wrongdoings, as though she was the one egging him on to commit the crimes. The comments left by anonymous people turned my stomach. People suggested that his parents were to blame, or that they somehow encouraged this kind of behavior from him, or worse yet - that they should be punished for what he did.

Honestly, in the past, I never really thought about the families of criminals. They were generally nameless beings, someone who floated around in the background at the trials or tried desperately to hide from the barrage of video cameras.

But I know this mother. I've known her for close to 30 years. I remember the letters that she wrote to me when she was in the service, the ones telling me that she was pregnant, and the ones including baby pictures of her boys. We lost touch for a while, but through the miracle of social media we reconnected and I loved seeing the pictures that she posted of her sons. The love she has for them is incredible.

And then the unthinkable happened. And I watched the articles that were posted online. And I read every single comment that was posted. I cried for her, for the wrong assumptions that people made about her parenting, and for the threats that were made against her because of her son's mistakes. I wanted to scream at these people, "but you don't even know her!" but I couldn't. I couldn't say anything, because there is no reasoning with people who are looking to vilify someone.

Somehow, she has managed to hold her head up high through all of this. She has shown such an amazing amount of strength and courage despite what people have said. I don't know how she manages to do it.

I do know that she doesn't deserve the nasty names.
She doesn't deserve the hatred.
No one has the right to threaten her or her family.
She shouldn't be judged based on his actions.
She didn't commit the crimes.

She is already being punished. She has had to watch her child make mistakes and suffer the severe consequences for his actions. She questions herself as to what she could have done differently or how she could have prevented this, knowing full well that despite what anyone else thinks, she did her best.

It is not her fault. She is not to blame.

The victims of the crimes are not always the only victims.


  1. We had a family member that committed a horrible act and the family went through the name calling and blame game too...you are so right, it is not her fault. No one made him do what he did, he did that with his own free will. It is easy to sit behind your computer or anywhere really, and play the blame game when you don't know ALL the facts or the other family members. No sane person wakes up one day and says, "I hope my child does something to screw his/her life up". We, parents and family members, pray each and every day that we have done our job and guided them to do what is right...but each and every one of us has free will and if we choose to screw up, that is on us...not our family and friends. I am sending prayers for your friend and her son and for you...and praying that the hatred stops SOON!

  2. 15 years ago my family was on the victim side of a violent crime. Someone we loved was taken from us. We knew the man who committed the crime. We knew his wife, his kids. When the trial came his mother was in shambles. I had never considered her. I never blamed her,but I know we were going through hell, I never considered that she might be too. I had never even thought of her. Watching her grieve for her son throughout the trial was hard. It didn't make him any less guilty. She was not to blame for his actions.
    In a somewhat related situation, I have felt the pain of false judgment. In our church, supposedly Christ centered and loving community, I was tried, judged, and sentenced to a life of solitude and shaming because of the choices that my teenager was making. He wasn't living his life in accordance with the teachings we had given him his entire life. He was choosing a life that we, as parents, understood would cause heartache and grief. He chose a life that went against everything he has been taught to believe in. Nevertheless, these actions were HIS CHOICE. I was shamed because of it. I felt the cold shoulder of a community that preached love and acceptance.
    I hope they NEVER have the gut wrenching experience of watching their children walk away from them. I was however, even more thankful that 15 years ago I had prayed for a mom who was going through hell, still living, still carrying and probably still praying for HER son.
    Even when we think we know everything, WE DON'T. Our judgements are wrong, unsolicited, hurtful, and unnecessary.
    I'm sorry for you and for your friend. Watching your children male bad choices is so painful. Judgemental people make it worse. Sending hugs and prayers your way.

  3. I have actually seen this happen recently to a family that I love. One of the sons did something completely out of character for him but it was horrible. What he did left two people injured and he died. The family had to endure horrible things being said on social media as they planned to bury their brother and son. Everyone had sympathy for the families of the injured people and did understand why they were angry but it wasn't his families fault that he made those decisions. I will keep your friend in my prayers.

  4. A very good friend of mine was close to Ted Bundy's mother for many years, before and after his crimes...

  5. My sister married a good guy who had 2 young children from a previous marriage about 35 years ago. The children didn't live with them but they spent a lot of time at my sis's house. They went through many of the trials of stepmothers/stepchildren but after a few years it all worked out and they came to love each other very much. About 15 years ago, when her stepson was about 22 and a Youth Minister at his church, he did something really horrible. He committed one of the worst crimes there is. His trial was a huge sensation in San Diego, where my sister was a top executive at one of the largest banks. Her husband was in real estate. No one died as a result of his crime but that's about all I can say. Every day during his trial, which lasted 2 or 3 weeks, there was a large contingent of reporters, TV news people and photographers outside the courthouse taking photos and videos of my sister and her husband and her stepson's mother and her new husband as they went in and came out of the courthouse. They were all over the TV news, etc. My sister almost lost her job due to the negative association with her and it being bad for the bank. Her stepson was convicted and sent to prison in Arizona for a long time (as he should have been). It was, of course, a horrible time for my sister and her husband and the kid's mother and they were treated as though they had committed the crime for a long time. To this day, her stepson denies that he committed that crime and the person who he allegedly harmed had not come forward until 10 years after the crime, when he and the stepson had a falling out. So we will never know for positive sure, though he WAS convicted by a jury of his peers. As a side note, the day before he was to be released from prison, a brown recluse spider bit his thigh. He could not tell anyone as they would have held him over until the wound was treated and healed or he died. The next day he was released and was driven the 4 hours back to San Diego and straight to an emergency room. The wound was very infected by that time and had spread to a huge area. He was closer to death than anyone realized but they treated him aggressively and he survived. My sister was so shaken about his crime that to this day she loves him with all her heart but still has a bit of a hard time accepting what he did and remains a little torn. He rebuilt his life slowly and stayed out of trouble and is living quietly now. In the early days after his release, he got a DUI, but no other trouble. Under California's "3 Strikes" law, if he so much as gets another DUI he will be sent back to prison for life.


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