The Oral Report

Standing up in front of the class was never so much fun!

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Location: River City, United States

The rantings and ravings of a mom of three wonderful girls as she finds new love while working like a dog and shaking her fist at the system. You know. Pretty much like everybody else.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Double Jeopardy

Every burg has it's villains. Those who have made a name for themselves by doing harm to others in the community. Most often, it's politicians. But, entirely too often, it's a star criminal. The names don't carry the same weight when you mention them outside their burg.

River City has a few. The most notable, by far, is a fellow by the name of Mel Ignatow. I doubt most of you have ever heard of him, but his story did garner some national attention and there has been a book published about his exploits.

Mel Ignatow is a local man who beat a murder rap. That link will take you to a very lengthy news story of the history of the case. It's worth the read. What it won't give you is the seething hatred that this community still feels for Mel Ignatow, some 15 years after he brutally tortured, raped and eventually killed his girlfriend. That he did it was bad. That he got away with it was worse. That after the trial, evidence surfaced that proved that he did do it, but that double jeopardy prevented him from being retried for it, provided the kick in the teeth that has staying power. And the fact that he is smug about it and gloats that he got away with it, really does slather the bitter flavored icing on that manure cake.

He is loathed in this area, and during the very few months between his release from prison for federal perjury charges and his reincarceration for state perjury charges, I would imagine that his existence was none too pleasant. He stayed with one of his sons and complained to the courts and the media that he was forced to stay inside most of the time, and could not get a job, because people were so openly hostile to him and he was afraid for his life. He didn't get much sympathy from either, though, and I'm hoping that when he went back to prison, he found the solace he so richly deserved.

I haven't thought about Mel Ignatow for some time. His name will, apparently, still raise the hair on the back of my neck and make the blood rush to my face.

I found this out the other day, when my oldest daughter was talking to me about her (sixteen year old) school friend, 'Mary', being pregnant. I've met Mary a few times, but I don't know her well. In fact, I didn't even know her last name. And, since my daughter has more than one friend with that name, when my middle daughter asked "Which Mary?" , in reference to the pregnant friend, my oldest daughter, being too young to know the infamy that surrounds that name, said "Mary Ignatow".

My immediate response was "Is she any relation to Mel Ignatow?", (because Ignatow ain't exactly Smith or Jones, you know). And my oldest said, "Yes, that's her grandfather." Her father is the son that Mel stayed with during his brief respite between prison sentences. The thought that my daughter possibly spent time with that girl, in that house, with that man give me chills. It really, truly does.

We talked about the case, then. About the circumstances, about how the photographs of Mel Ignatow spending five hours raping and torturing his victim were found after he'd been acquitted, about what kind of man he is. And I told her that I didn't want her spending time at Mary's house any more. "Mary can come to our house, but I don't want you back there." And she understood. And, better, she respects my feelings on this.

I don't like the feeling that I'm punishing Mary for the crimes her grandfather committed. And, in effect, isn't that exactly what I'm doing? But I'm never gonna be comfortable thinking of any of my girls spending time around criminals...especially murderers...and topping that list, Mel Ignatow. And as long as the potential is there, that protective mom thing is gonna kick in first. Which, may just be a justification for me being a control freak or feeling superior. I'm not sure.

I really do wish Mary the very best with her new baby, and I'm sure that my daughter will be there for Mary and for Mel Ignatow's future great grandchild...who will also share his last name, and, I'm sure, the stigma that surrounds it.


Blogger Julia said...

You aren't punishing Mary. In effect, you are showing her that while people may harbor hatred for her grandfather, you do not feel that way about her.

There are houses that I don't allow my kid to go to. And she has a friend who isn't allowed at our house (because we aren't Christian)

It's what parents do.

4/20/2006 11:57 AM  
Blogger FindingHeart said...

Hafta ditto Julia. It is what parents do, protect kids from avoidable situations. She can still be friends, but you can have it on your terms. The lack of overt negative statements or brash admonishments around Mary help show you don't have a problem with her, but a prior situation. Not an ideal answer, but workable.

4/23/2006 11:48 PM  

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