|For Immediate ReleaseFatherhood Coalition to protest 209A violation prosecution of Harry Stewart at Quincy District Court|
BOSTON, June 15, 1998¾ The Fatherhood Coalition will hold a courthouse protest outside Quincy District Court on Thursday, June 18, at 9 AM. The Reverend Harry Stewart, a coalition member, is on trial for three violations of a 209A domestic abuse restraining order.
One of the alleged violations occurred last summer when Stewart helped his son with a box as he exited Stewarts vehicle at a visitation "drop-off." According to the terms of the protection order, Stewart is not allowed to leave his car at pick-ups and drop-offs. The mother was not even present at the home¾ a baby-sitter informed her later.
All of Stewarts alleged violations have been of the no-contact provisions of the 209A protection orders his ex-wife June has held against him since the breakdown of their marriage.
Like thousands of other fathers in divorce/custody litigation, contact between Stewart and his children has been criminalized by specious allegations of "domestic abuse." There have never been allegations of violence made against Stewart. Fatherhood Coalition spokesman Mark Charalambous claims "the Stewart case is a textbook example of restraining order abuse, and highlights the urgent need for reform of the states domestic abuse prevention law and policies."
In February and March of this year the Fatherhood Coalition held several protests at the Fall River 2nd District Court on behalf of coalition co-chairman Ray Saulnier, who has also been victimized by the states notorious (209A) domestic abuse prevention law.
Protection orders often absurd, and embarrassing violations selectively dismissed
Another alleged violation against Stewart was dismissed this past winter. Stewart left his car to pick up his son who had fallen down when the child was being returned to the mother. When asked by a Quincy magistrate if Stewart admitted to violating the order, Stewart replied that he chose to help his son. Because of the potential embarrassment to the prosecution, the magistrate wisely chose to dismiss that violation.
An earlier restraining order prevented Stewart from entering the town of Weymouth, where he formerly lived and ran a youth ministry, the Fire Escape Ministry, for 16 years.
The Stewart case is just one example of the restraining order abuse that is prevalent throughout Massachusetts, but especially so in Quincy. Quincy District Court is held up as a national model for its domestic violence programs and policies. The Fatherhood Coalition believes that the influence of victim-feminist politics in the courts have created a chilling climate of fear and intimidation, where innocent fathers are being persecuted by a criminal justice system run amok.
Besides revealing the excesses of the courts domestic violence policies, the Stewart case also demonstrates how they actually enable and encourage violent women. Last year, Harry Stewart was featured on a Channel 7 News report as a battered husband. For 12 years, Stewart claims he was repeatedly assaulted and terrorized by his ex-wife.
Contact: Mark Charalambous
email@example.comCPF / The Fatherhood Coalition