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Friday, November 25, 2011

Oh Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving, aka “Dysfunctional Family Day”, it’s the day we watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, gather around the table with our family, and overindulge by eating more food in one day than the contestants on The Biggest Loser eat in a week! Jillian Michaels would not be pleased. It’s a day to give thanks for the food on our table, give thanks for the many blessings life has given us, and to give thanks, for better or for worse, for our family.

Family – that word means something different to each of us. For some, it brings a smile to our face and warms our heart; to others we realize that our family really should have a reality series because they’re… Just. That. Odd! However, I think we’d all agree, good or bad, we couldn’t live without them. And who’s to say what defines a family. Oh sure, perhaps in a perfect world, it consists of two loving parents with their children, a house and maybe a dog or a cat. But who says those two loving parents aren’t two men or two women? And who says there even has to be two parents?! I’m the single mom of an amazing, pretty spectacular son. He’s no worse for the wear, or any less loved simply because his father doesn’t live under the same roof.

They say you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. I’m not so sure about that. Isn’t it simply those we love and those who love us that define a family? I don’t believe a family is always one of shared blood. In fact, rarely do members of one’s family ever grow up under the same roof. My closest friends love me, accept me, they’re there in good and bad times and they support my every hope and dream. Isn’t that what defines a family? A family is the first people you go to when something spectacular happens because you can’t wait to share it with them. A family is the people you go to when the world is crashing in around you because when you’re with them, you’re protected; it’s like you’re wrapped in cotton because you know nothing bad can ever happen when you’re with them.

So this Thanksgiving, look around your table and give thanks to those you chose to be your family. Your wonderful, loving family, diverse and dysfunctional though it may be. That blended group of people you call family that, yes, should probably have their own reality series, but they also warm your heart, make you smile, supports you, accepts you, but most of all loves you…. always and all ways.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sick Defends Sicker

The other night as I was watching the Bob Costas interview with accused pedophile Jerry Sandusky, outside of the obvious, something didn’t sit right with me. Sandusky was doing the interview by phone, but his lawyer, Joseph Amendola, was in the studio with Bob Costas. The way Amendola answered some of Bob’s questions made my skin crawl. And at one point, he even cracked a smile. Really, what on earth is there to smile about in this horrific tragedy?

In the above photo, Amendola is smiling while saying they were able to locate an alleged victim (the one Mike McQueary witnessed being assaulted) when the Commonwealth has not. Funny?? How is this even remotely funny???

Costas: You said a few days ago, “much more is going to come out in our defense.” In broad terms, what?

Joseph Amendola: We expect we’re going to have a number of kids – now how many of those so-called eight kids we’re not sure – but we anticipate we’re going to have at least several of those kids come forward and say this never happened, this is me, this is the allegation, and it never occurred. In fact, one of the toughest allegations – the McQueary allegations – what McQueary said he saw, we have information that that child says that never happened. Now grown up.

Costas: Until now we were told that that alleged victim could not be identified. You have identified him?

Amendola: We think we have.

Costas: So you found him, the Commonwealth has not?

Amendola: Yeah. Interesting, isn’t it?

Costas: Would you allow your own children to be alone with your client?

Amendola: Absolutely. I believe in Jerry’s innocence. Quite honestly Bob, that’s why I’m involved in the case.

Costas: You believe in his innocence? Not just that you can mitigate his guilt, you believe in his innocence.

Amendola: I believe in his innocence.

The other day, a colleague and I were talking about this story and how repulsed we have both been about the details since the news broke. And, while I do understand that everyone in this country is entitled to representation, and I do understand that everyone is “innocent until proven guilty”. What I don’t understand is how in good conscience a lawyer can defend someone who is so clearly sick and needs help, or incarceration, or both. What I don’t understand is how a lawyer can blindly defend someone who is so clearly guilty. Apparently it helps when you have a lawyer who thinks along the same lines as the client. Joseph Amendola is, in my opinion, also a pedophile. And now I understand how this particular lawyer can, in his perception of good conscience, defend this particular client.

Back in 1996, this “fine, upstanding” citizen, represented then 16-year-old Mary Iavasile's emancipation petition. Why was she asking to be "divorced" from her parents just weeks before her 17th birthday? She was pregnant with Joseph Amendola's child. He was 49 at the time. According to Mary's mother she graduated from high school in two years with a 3.69 grade point average while holding down a full time job. A job at Amendola’s law office. She met her "mentor", Joseph Amendola, through her school district because she was interested in pursuing a law career. Mary had the child just before her 18th birthday and never did get a law degree. She and Joseph married in 2003, had another child and have since divorced.

Clearly, Joseph Amendola is not the moral compass to get justice for these children who were so brutally violated by Sandusky. When Mary Amendola watched the Costas interview and heard her ex-husband say, without hesitation, that he would feel comfortable leaving his kids alone with Jerry Sandusky, Mary took to her Facebook page. “OMG, did Joe just say that he would allow my kids to be alone with Jerry Sandusky??”

Makes your skin crawl, doesn’t it?

To watch the full interview with Bob Costas -

For the full story on Mary -

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth

“All it takes for evil to triumph is for a few good men to do nothing.”

Profound statement. What makes it more profound, considering this is a quote from the 1700’s by Irish political philosopher Edmond Burke, is how relevant it is today. I’m referring to the recent events surrounding the allegations of the football staff at Penn State. If a few (supposed) good men had spoken up when they first saw and heard of what was happening, then evil would not have triumphed. But no one spoke up and a sick, disgusting man got away with horrific atrocities. Children were betrayed; trust was shattered. So what do we, as a society, as individuals, as parents, do now? How can we learn from this?

At a young age we teach our kids about their “private parts”. We teach them no adult is allowed to touch them “down there”. Not even someone they know, trust, and love. It’s a tough conversation to have because kids’ brains don’t fully understand pure evil. As the mother of a nine-year old son, the same age as some of the kids who were assaulted, I’m outraged that more was not done to help and protect those children. The best I can do is to teach my son to do the right thing, no matter the cost. Teach him to speak up if any adult approaches him and to speak up if he witnesses anything he may think is inappropriate. When you’re truthful and honest, you don’t have to keep track of your lies. If you tell the truth, evil cannot prevail.

The individuals in the middle of the scandal at Penn State didn’t do enough. They did the bare minimum of what they were required to do. I wonder how they would feel had it been their son in the shower with Jerry Sandusky. During his 62 years as coach, Joe Paterno won 409 games, more than any coach in the history of major college football. However, Joe’s legacy will now be remembered not for what he did, but for what he didn’t do.

In the wake of Paterno’s firing, students at Penn State rioted the campus in support of their “beloved” coach. As many of you who listen to Broadminded know, I am the victim of a sexual assault. It happened right after college and the assailant has never been caught. As someone who knows what it’s like to be forced to do something against her will, it was extremely unsettling to watch the news of the Penn State students wreaking havoc across campus in support of those who didn’t speak up, didn’t do all they could, didn’t tell the truth. Where were the people protesting in support of those who were betrayed instead of supporting the people who stayed silent?

A few days later, just prior to Penn State’s final home game of the season, the players from both Penn State and their opponent, Nebraska, gathered at midfield kneeling together for a long moment of silence in support of the victims. Finally giving the abused some recognition. It was a simple, quiet, powerful statement. Donations for two child-abuse prevention organizations were being accepted at the stadium gates. And as fans were gathering in their seats getting ready for kick-off, a plane flew over the stadium pulling a sign that read, “Cry for the Kids, Not for the Cowards & Liars.”

“If I only had three words of advice, they would be, Tell the Truth. If I got three more words, I'd add, All the Time.” ~Randy Pausch