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Cann tragedy spurs visit from parents' rights group

By Cathy Gilbertie Knipper, Norton Mirror, Thu Sep 13, 2007

[Also TownOnline http://www.townonline.com/norton/news/x775324910]

Norton - If you drove through the center of town Thursday, night Sept. 6, you may have seen a candlelit vigil gathering and an enormous purple and white bus parked near the Norton post office.

The bus, driven by Larry Kerkman, president of Children's Rights Initiative for Sharing Parents Equally (CRISPE), is on a national tour that began in San Diego, California June 6, and will continue, Kerkman says, until he runs out of funds.

CRISPE is a non-profit organization hoping to ensure that all 50 states adopt the policy of Iowa, which is 50/50, shared parenting for divorced parents.

"I have rallied with a hundred different kinds of organizations with one thing in common," said Kerkman. "We all want shared parenting because that is what is best for our children."

Kerman, who said he only goes where he is invited, and where at least 12 people will rally for a cause, said he came to Norton at the invitation of the Fatherhood Coalition and the Fathers for Justice.

Earl Sholley, the media contact for the Fatherhood Coalition says the group decided to rally in Norton after the Aug 27 murder of Elizabeth Cann by Cann's former boyfriend. Two of Cann's three daughters, Brittany and Danielle, were critically injured in the attack and remain hospitalized. The girl's father, Wayne Cann attempted to obtain custody of the girls at one point, but did not feel he could gain custody, so he abandoned the effort, according Sholley.

"Next to death, divorce is probably the worst thing that anyone can got through," said Sholley.

Sholley said Massachusetts has the most restrictive laws for divorced fathers and his group seeks to change the family court system by promoting mandated mediation that may reconcile parents and protect children.

The Southeastern Massachusetts chapter of the Fatherhood coalition meets at the Boyden Public Library in Foxboro on the first Tuesday of each month from 6:30 to 9p.m. The group is open to all.

Cathy Gilbertie Knipper can be reached at cknipper@cnc.com.

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