... and rallies for Ray Saulnier in Fall River

For more than three weeks in February and March the press in the Fall River area reported on the Fatherhood Coalition's campaign for 209A reform, orchestrated around the trial of Ray Saulnier for two no-contact violations of an order held against him by his ex-wife Susan (see "No justice for 209A-abuse victim," page 2).

Scheduled for trial on February 19, the Fatherhood Coalition prepared a protest to be held outside 2nd District Court in Fall River. With signs in hand and flyers to pass out, the protesters were approached by the police soon after they arrived and shown a copy of state law Chapter 268 13A, which prohibits giving gifts or bribes that might intimidate or influence a judge, jury, or court officer or witnesses. On three occasions the police attempted to move the protesters, eventually bringing in a SWAT team and opening the doors of a paddy wagon. Meanwhile, the press was swarming - reporters, photographers, cameras and all.

After a while, the protesters learned that the chief justice had sent the jury pool home because they were "contaminated." Ray's trial was continued to March 9.

Earl Sholley vehemently argued that CPF's right to protest was guaranteed under the First Amendment, and later requested an injunction from Superior Court in Fall River. The complaint names as the defendants Judge Aguiar, the city of Fall River, and the FR police department, and requests that they be preventing from interfering with his (and by association, that of all the protester's) right to protest outside the courthouse.

In the days that followed, CPF and restraining order-abuse were the hot topics on talk radio, in the local newspapers. The local cable TV, Media One, filmed the protest and ran the clip later in the day.

The Herald News kept the fire blazing. On February 27, they rang in with a lead editorial criticizing Judge Aguiar's attempts to remove the protesters and coming down on the side of free speech and the right to assemble.

Meanwhile, Earl's suit, which generated news coverage in its own right on Feb. 6, March 6 and 7, was rejected by Superior Court Judge John A Tierney on March 6. No explanation or clarification of the law was given. CPF promised to step up the protest on March 9. What was going to happen?

Everyone in the Bristol County chapter was firing on all cylinders, a true team effort. But Mother Nature stepped in. Flood watches for the area were forecast.

Gusty wind and buckets of rain began pouring from the skies soon after the protesters assembled. Many didn't bother to show. The police approached the small crowd outside City Hall and told them where they could assemble. Lacking significant numbers, the protesters complied.

Nevertheless, the Herald News and Media One showed up and both ran stories. WSAR called asking for a quote, which was run on the hourly newscasts.

After the closing statements and jury instructions, the jury returned with their verdict a couple of hours later: guilty on one account, not guilty on the other.

After sentencing, Ray's brother Brian formed a circle in the hall, and offered a prayer:

"Today we gather in a common bond. We know the truths you have revealed to us, we know of the devastation caused by these ill-guided individuals in a system far from perfect. Keep us strong in revealing these truths to all so we may create a place where people needing protection can be safe and people deserving to live honestly and peacefully in your light may do so. To this we will strive for with our hearts and your guidance, if it be your will. Amen."


News and Commentary from the New Guard of the Father's Rights Movement

Volume 2, Issue 1
September, 1998

PO Box 1146 Leominster, MA 01453

All Rights Reserved


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