Richard Brodie

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The Ballad of Mary Letourneau

The thing that cannot help being noticed and appreciated by a sensitive spirit, is a quite obvious similarity, if you reflect and examine the accusation information contained in the quantitatively different, although qualitatively equivalent cases of the inappropriate incarceration of Mary Letourneau and of poet Oscar Wilde. The ending of a difficult and excruciating penitentiary travail in that noxious institution, a jail that is located at Reading, England, was exactly one century prior to the beginning of the appalling mistreatment of Mary, both their liberations happening in their forty second years.

Both were convicted on indictments of iniquitous victimization of a minor, teenage boy, a difference between their respective cases being that in one case the offense was heterosexual, and in the other the offense was homosexual. Both bore their pitiable vilification with patience, affability, and equanimity, for in neither instance did any felony forcible rape happen.

The calamity of each of them was that of living in quite an appallingly malignant, vicious time in history. In a later period, not intolerant of a lifestyle of gay people, that annihilation of the inimitable artistic gift of that precious life may not have vitiated the history of civilization with this stain of a quieting of the expression of a creative artist. In an earlier time, not having that quite so rigid, chronologically stratified conception and definition of what exactly constitutes maturity, characteristic of the latter part of the twentieth century, a time of rampantly and irritatingly all-intrusive illegitimate government attempts to pry into every aspect of people's private lives, Mary Letourneau might also have escaped the suffocating punishment of an extremely lengthy term of imprisonment.

In fact, only a very few years earlier, at a time when the woman's liberation movement had not as yet attained that acceptance characteristic of today's militant mainstream attitude, a male that was sitting on the bench would quite certainly have acted relatively more compassionately, and given to her a lenient, less draconian type of penalty that was deemed appropriate to the delinquency of her indiscretions. As it turned out the female that sat on the bench in her case, one Linda Lau, trying to prove herself to be as stern and tough in applying the rape statutes, and equally as ruthless and tyrannical, as any man, inflicted tragically uncharitable, bitter pain on an unfortunate, beautiful, delicate victim, to the tune of a calamitously crippling seven year stay in a correctional facility, that will impart a permanent, lifetime imprint of pain on the innocent young offspring of that entire family.

Compare the ignominy of that appallingly egregious discipline to that of a mere thirty months dispensed to a male teacher in that same state, who had precisely a similar sort of charge leveled against him involving a young female who was in his class - a quantity of time that is very similar to that given to Oscar Wilde, three times less than that given inappropriately and non-sympathetically to a benevolent, amiable, kindly, positive, affectionate lady - certainly one of the most contemptible, disappointingly shameful violations of rights and regrettable instances of unpardonably mean punishment, in the entire attainted history of the Constitution's Eighth Amendment.

The incident involving the romantic affair that happened regarding Wilde, providing occasion for a poetic commemoration, I felt it appropriate that Mary Letourneau's criminal confinement also have that sort of a literary memorial, lest people's consciences ever forget the reprehensible and detrimental treatment meted out to her, affecting her poor children.

After a mere couple of years of privation of freedom, Mary penned an inspiring effort of twenty-seven "If ... then, Why?" points, a determined protestation, a reasoned reflective statement, a penetrating plea, written for effecting a beneficent emancipation in appropriate rectification for that torment inflicted; and it is from them that the inspiration came to me to attempt to compose a pertinent poem to offer, if not an Everest, at least a modest literary hill as a platform to trumpet her message from.

The Ballad of Mary Letourneau
by Richard Allen Brodie

I'll sing a song of hurtful wrong
Done to a lady frail;
A song of shame on mankind's name
For chaining her in jail;
A song of pain - hearts torn in twain,
A star-crossed lover's tale.

A song of rage - Oh, the sorry page
In a tale, that has no end,
Of custom's knife that pierces life
And hearts in twain doth rend;
And leaves the soul with a gaping hole
Men's hands can never mend.

A wound that only He can close
Who sees the widow's eyes,
Who knows a mother's agony,
Who hears a mother's cries,
Who gently clears away her tears,
And bids her daughter rise!

A mother from her children torn
Can on His care rely,
And know that they, - though far away
Beneath His watchful eye,
Her love will know - and know their love
For her will never die.

She did not harm the boy she loved
Nor did she him seduce.
There was nothing lewd to be construed
As wrongful child abuse.
And so to call what she did "rape"
There is simply no excuse.

The law is cruel and ignores Christ's rule,
The rule of golden grace.
All individuality
It must completely erase;
For it's easier to destroy a life
When your victim has no face.

They fell in love in a college class
Where both as equals came.
But a law half blind can only find
Guilt, turpitude, and blame.
To stigmatize, in court it tries
For student/teacher shame

As character assassins speak
It looks the other way;
At slander winks, at libel blinks,
Allows the press to say:
"Molester!", "Pedophile!", and worse,
Her good repute to slay.

For sharing with a lad of twelve
Her intimate affection
The judge cries foul and with a scowl
Quotes Title, Clause, and Section;
And with mien austere and voice severe
Gives seven years' correction.

As being late for a trial date
Adds dollars on the dime,
To peeve the bench is a sin perceived
Far worse than any crime.
So the judge throw fits and Mary gets
Five years of extra time!

In Mary's case there was no place
For Logic. Truth was buried;
Mercy aborts when in the courts
The Law with Hate is married -
Of Reason it was a travesty,
Compassion was miscarried.

At first some thought that she would not,
As men would, punished be,
Who, being male, they'd put in jail
And throw away the key.
They'd spare the necks of her fair sex
By showing leniency.

But a man who did the selfsame thing
With a girl of tender age -
A teacher in fact, who's selfsame act
Should have earned the selfsame wage -
Lived five years less than Mary lived
Locked in a prison cage.

And how unfair it is to care
For gender, not a whit,
As if one standard uniform
Would men and women fit;
For the female only can be harmed
By the act that men commit.

"My love was pure, I did not lure
My youthful lover in.
'Twas his intent, his plan, he meant
His teacher's heart to win.
All tenderness, not violence,
All right intent, not sin.

"And yet the charge that did enlarge
My sentence drastically,
From eighteen months to seven years
Before I could go free,
Was that with violence I raped
The boy who wanted me."

Custom decrees for boys like these
But thirteen years of age,
That none can choose a life-long love;
Such things they cannot gauge.
But some can choose to spend their lives
Within a prison cage.

The guardians of mores of love
Sought her insane to show.
If she were seen with senses keen,
It would be quite a blow
To sacred social notions of
How courtship ought to go.

But it's not Mary, it's the law
That broke with Reason's bound,
And made a heinous ruling, quite
Without the slightest ground
Two adults may no contact have?
Here was no justice found!

That blessed mother-baby bond
Is held by law to be
A sacred right as precious quite
As any legacy
That life can give to those who live
Among the brave and free.

But bravery and freedom wane
Unless the sons of men
With vigilance on guard remain
And rise to battle when
The fight their freedom to retain
Needs to be fought again.

Hearken all ye that suckled at
A mother's tender breast,
Who daily to recline within
Soft loving arms were blessed,
And nightly felt her kiss divine
Who lulled thee off to rest;

Hearken, how Mary's children's right
These blessings to enjoy
While they were but a little girl
Or but a little boy,
The court from them did take away
Like it was just some toy.

Hearken, and weep, for the pain goes deep
When the law becomes a thief -
The law that should have guarded them
Form the prosecutor's brief
Which asked that they be robbed of love
And gave them bitter grief.

"My treatment option program proved
A total farce to be.
My right to be a mother
It did cruelly take from me,
And cruelly from my children took
Their right their mom to see.

"When those entrusted to provide
Were placed beyond the pale
Of law, and acted hurtfully
Towards us without fail,
The only option left to me
Was going into jail.

"Some said the 'freedom' that I had
I squandered. Is that true?
A freedom that is slavery
I would not choose. Would you?
And so for my dear children's sake
I chose my time to do.

"My children are away, kept far
From any touch of mine;
And from their hearts is frozen out
A mother's love divine.
They may not from my lips taste Truth's
Ambrosial anodyne.

"Confused bewildered, poisoned by
A double dose of lies,
They only see a view of me
Through lurid tabloid eyes,
Or, what's the same, what courts proclaim
Politically wise.

"For courts, of course, exist to force
Compliance with those rules
Passed by politicians pledged
To serve that mob of fools
Whose money spent on gossip rags
The tabloid business fuels.

"When I had not yet one day spent
Within the prison's wall,
Already: 'She's a non-compliant
Inmate.' was the call.
So from the first they thought the worst,
And set me up to fall.

"An inmate's right to have her plight
By counsel heard and known,
And choose her visitors to see
And whom to write or phone,
Was in my case restricted quite,
I was left quite alone

"If we have First Amendment rights
Then why could I not do
With a local station talk show host
A simple interview,
And let the world hear one clear voice
That rings with reason true?

"If many thousands with goodwill
To me have written in
To say that they have quite seen through
The lies, the smoke, the spin,
And wish me well, that through this hell
I may keep up my chin;

"If these clear-thinking, sensitive,
Compassionate, and kind,
Supportive citizens no guilt
Could in my conduct find,
Nor any cause why any laws
These chains on me should bind;

"If this be so, I'd like to know
Why, then, the press promotes
That propaganda which upon
The airwaves daily floats -
One vicious song played loud and long,
One tune of hateful notes."

Although the public consciousness
Was in a state of shock
That she within those prison walls
For seven years must walk;
Still would the leader of this State
Not say: "Those chains unlock!"

"This person has a family
With children small, Oh, how
Can Mary Kay be kept away?
Their needs do not allow
This separation to go on,
Release this woman, now!"

But her appeal for clemency
Did fall on deafened ears.
Those men who could have done some good
Had re-election fears
That were far more persuasive than
A mother's pleading tears.

"Please won't you stop, you're hurting us!"
Her cry throughout the land
Reverberates, till caring hearts
And minds together band,
And men and women of goodwill
Arise and take a stand.

"Where's mommy? Oh! I miss her so."
A child's pathetic cry
Convicts those who will nothing do
But just stand idly by.
They'll hear their sentence when they have
No answer for God's "Why?"

Her persecutors - may they burn
In Dante's deep inferno.
Your pain will pass, courageous lass.
Will guilt belong to her? No!
Devoid of fear, with conscience clear
Is Mary Kay Letourneau.

Return to the top to read the original

"If... then Why?"
Mary Letourneau, January 2000

If my questions to you are based on verified factual merit, and follow a clean path of logic that respect both the community and our private family interests... Then why is this voice silenced? How can these questions be disqualified or put down?

# 1. If "abuse" or "harm done" are not part of the elements of guilt for the crime I was convicted of... Then how is it that the word 'Rape' is allowed to title that law, when guilty simply says: sexual intercourse happened and they were not married? Why not titled it "Unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor?" Why the alarming hysteria of the word "RAPE?"

# 2. If this is really about 'me' personally... Then why is my actual image blocked; what I actually look like, my mannerisms, my actual ways, my values, and my actual words in context?

# 3. If Vili and I became involved while we were both students together in a college summer class... Then why have the prosecution and the media insisted on painting a different picture - one that tries to force the public to see and respond to this case as if it happened when we were student-teacher to each other?

# 4. If there are laws against libel and slander... Then why are words like pedophile, abuse, molestation, assault, rapist and victim allowed to be used by certain media and certain agencies and freely speaking individuals in connection to me and Vili, when those action and titles are not facts of our case, nor are they elements of guilt under the particular law that I was convicted of?

# 5. If females and males are clearly so different physically and emotionally, and there is a law that involves those different physical and emotional acts, and biologically the act only impacts and potentially harms the female... Then how can that law be written to apply equally to both genders as if we were the same?

# 6. If this law was meant to apply equally to both males and females... Then why have some men in this state (who were with teenage girls of the same age as Vili was when we were first together) been given charges of a non-violent classified sex offense (a ONE and a half year prison sentence), and for the same situation, I was charged with a VIOLENT classified sex offense that equals to a SEVEN and a half year prison sentence?

# 7. If, for a 13 year old, the law in this state uses an assessment criteria of a full profile - including cultural factors experience, and intellectual and emotional attributes - when considering whether to charge and try that 13 year old as an adult for their sophisticated actions of violence and hate... Then why was 13 year old Vili Fualaau's responsibility for his sophisticated actions of passion and love blocked into a legal criteria that ignored everything from his profile except for one thing - his birth age?

How can the law say surely that certain 13-year-olds are capable of knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently choosing a life sentence in prison... But close off even the possibility that maybe one 13 year old might be capable of knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently choosing a life partner in love?

# 8. If the most merited psychologists are saying that I have no psychiatric or psychological disorder or illness... Then why is it still so uncomfortable for some people to accept that there was and is nothing "wrong" with me?

If there's nothing wrong with me... Then why isn't the focus on what's right - about me, about Vili Fualaau - and about us together?

# 9. If Vili Fualaau was professionally assessed not to have been victimized by me, and he and his mother demanded they were not victims to me and made it clear that they do not want to beseparated from me... Then why was the court allowed to place a lifetime "victim-no contact order" between us?

# 10. If Vili has rights (the right to not be separated from me)... Then why does he not have an attorney (besides the media agent) representing him, assisting him on his actions to take against what is truly victimizing him - our forced separation, a disregard for his rights, his chosen future?

# 11. If there is no evidence of any harm or threatened harm by a mother to her children... Then how is it that any court or any acting authority is legally or in full conscience able to deny or limit or delay (even for a day's time) a mother and her child's intimate relationship, a bond considered by some courts to be more sacred than life itself?

# 12. If under the law I was convicted of, the sexual deviancy treatment was the only alternative to the long prison sentence, the only way to keep me free to be a mother... Then why, the day after I accepted the Judge's sentence (the treatment, the 'free to be a mother' option) was the treatment provider allowed, without legal scrutiny, to take all contact with all of my children from me, and allowed to put a gag order on me, a far worse fate for my children and me than prison?

If coming to prison was the only possibility I had to at least see my children or talk to them or write to them, and to get back my First Amendment rights... Then how can anyone say that defying the treatment program and coming to prison to do time and defend my legal rights was a "squandering" of my freedom?

# 13. If my children in Alaska are confused, and their caretakers are genuinely concerned about their healthy growth through this... Then why are they blocked from age appropriate truth about the law I was convicted under - government control, truths that make sense to their own basic perception of their mother - affirmations that allow them to keep esteem - instead of shattering their esteem by forcing them to accept the tabloid or 'politically correct' education and images of their own mother?

# 14. If I hadn't yet served any time as an inmate in prison... Then how is it that my initial prison paperwork can have a label of me as a non-compliant inmate?

# 15. If I wasn't pre-labeled and singled out, and set up to appear to fail at the prison... Then why have I noticed, and had it reported to me by some honest staff here that certain other prison staff have sought me out, set up both petty and serious blockades on me, and in a few situations, fully fabricated infractions against me?

# 16. If all prisoners have a protected right to legal access... Then why has the prison continually blocked and limited my attorney time, my court participation, and my legal research, and even opened up my confidential legal mail?

# 17. If prisoners have a right to visitors of their choice as long as there are no legal impediments preventing them from visiting... Then why was a friend of mine taken off of my visit list when it was discovery by the prison that he was running my website?

# 18. If we have First Amendment rights... Then why was I banned by the prison from on-air interviewing with a local radio station?

# 19. If the law requires that prisoners be kept in least restrictive housing possible... Then why am I in maximum-security isolation in chains with no human contact-even phone access to my own mother and father? Is that really a necessary restraint for them to keep Vili and me from each other? And how will their proposed move of me to another state's prison solve the named problem of Vili and me keeping contact? Won't it instead only further block my legal access and resources, and completely sever my relationship with my children?

# 20. If Vili and I have our name on a book as the supposed authors... Then how is it that neither of us knew of one word contained in that book until after it was already printed and bound? If the idea and contract was to allow Vili and me to tell our story, to express our side, our feelings... Then why, now that we have reviewed and corrected it to our view, our words- why is there a delay on the U.S. publishing?

# 21. If Vili Fualaau and I love each other, for nearly four years now, and are equally and passionately committed to each other and our future together... Then how can anyone focus on me alone and call this an obsession that I have? If my love for Vili Fualaau is going to be called by some an "obsession"...Then why not call my love for all my children, my mother, and my father the same thing, since the depth of commitment and love for them is as deep and pure as my love to Vili?

# 22. If privately the actuality of Vili and me together is pure, respectful, mutually life filling and independently chosen and committed to by us both... Then, besides the fact that we consummated our love outside of marriage (consent that would have to have been given by his mother at the time), what is the wrongful part of our relationship?

# 23. If Vili and I are legally married... Then what threat are we, or am I, to society?

# 24. If I realize and support the importance of laws in general that protect our young people from real violations to them, and I am willing to go to prison for the time necessary to preserve the deterrent value of these laws... Then why or how can anyone say that my fight for a just application of this law, or my fight for an honest representation of my image and the facts of this case, is not a fight that expresses the highest respect for law?

# 25. If there are thousands of clear-thinking, sensitive citizens (many with legal backgrounds, most with just common sense judgments and hearts) who have written to me (having seen through the initial barrage of propaganda against me) and expressed their different view of why this particular case is a miscarriage of justice- thanking me for my courage and praying for me to keep strong... Then why does this state's news still only report on opinions of the outrage of what my case in general seems, on the surface, to send a message of, still referring to me as, and trying to prove an image of me as, a hard, convicted child rapist?

# 26. If both protection of the general public order and protection of us as individuals can coexist and keep their value... Then why in this case is the protection of general public control and order being valued above and in negligent disregard for, the protection of the individuals involved?

# 27. If we are three years into this and there is still a shock to public conscience over the length of my imprisonment, and still forced estrangement and suffering to our personal family with no resolution in sight... Then why are we, the few that are intimately affected by this, not brought together at the peace table by the one leader of the people of this state, setting out a win-win fair solution, one that respects the people of this state as a whole and that acknowledges and meets the needs of our individual family?

I don't sit with these questions in a shackled state, buried alive.

These are the questions that spirit me to be able to wake up alone each day for two and a half years now, and pick up a pencil, or go through another law book question by question.

These are the questions that humble my face to face stand with any accuser; dare they really look in my eyes and challenge sound reason an logic.

These are the questions that the brave little girl in me throws aside, and climbs to the top of the highest mountain in the land and cries out an echoing "S-T-0-P! You're hurting us."

These are the questions that light a clear vision with pride in our hearts to Vili Fualaau's and my side-by-side future.

These are the questions that allow me to defy certain 'orders'.

These are the questions that illustrate the words of St. Augustine's proclamation, "An unjust law is no law at all", and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s voice, "One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws."

These too are the questions that have brought unconscionable pain and grieving to my four children in Alaska.

And these are the questions that Vili and my two girls will one day painfully realize robbed them of sacred mother-child bonding and memories.

These are the questions that I pray will bring good people together to force a complete circle of logic and light, so that there isn't anymore in this (or other people's) life situations, a question of "If... then, Why?" but instead a peaceful and just acknowledgement of "If... then, Therefore."

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Updated: May 10, 2016


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