Fathers' groups hold vigil
They maintain murder, shootings could have been avoided if courts had been more supportive of dads
By Stephen Petersen, Sun Chronicle staff, Sept. 7, 2007
NORTON - Area fathers' rights groups contend the Cann family tragedy could have been avoided if the courts were more supportive of fathers.
About 15 representatives of three such groups held signs and small U.S. flags at the town common for two hours Thursday night.
Elizabeth Cann, 44, was shot dead nearly two weeks ago by her ex-boyfriend, Robert McDermott, who killed himself, and also seriously wounded two of Cann's three daughters, Danielle Cann, 15, and Brittany, 12. They remained in serious condition Thursday night at Hasbro Children's Hospital in Providence.
The girls' father and Elizabeth Cann's former husband, Wayne Cann, had filed in family court for emergency custody of his children 11/2 years ago because of what he claimed was drunken and abusive behavior of McDermott toward the children.
Elizabeth Cann defended McDermott at that time, although she later kicked him out of the house, and Wayne Cann never followed through because family members said he felt the court would not grant him custody.
"It really demonstrates how unworkable the system is," said one Braintree member of the Fatherhood Coalition.
Robert Norton of Milford, a member of Fathers for Justice who coordinated Thursday's event, cited statistics that he said show the court system discriminates against fathers.
"Many tragedies result from fathers kept out of their children's lives. There is an epidemic of bad decisions that are very one sided.," said Earl Sholley of Norfolk, a long-time member of the Fatherhood Coalition. "Fathers are really second-class citizens."
Also present were representatives of CRISPE, which stands for Children's Rights Initiative for Shared Parents Equally. The San-Diego-based group has a bus touring the country, and it was present Thursday night.
Signs reading "Honk for Family Court Reform," "What About My Civil Rights" and others elicited many honks.
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Caption: Fathers' rights groups hold a vigil at the corner of routes 123 and 140 in Norton on Thursday night. They contend the murder of Elizabeth Cann, and the shooting of two of her daughters, could have been avoided if courts had been more supportive of fathers.