For Immediate Release

Candlelight Vigil for Dead Needham Father

Suicide followed estrangement from child and jail

Fathers rights supporters and family friends to commemorate Steven Cook

BOSTON, April 27 –A candlelight vigil will be held on the town common in Needham, MA on Saturday, April 28 from 6:00 - 8:00 PM to commemorate the suicide death of Stephen R. Cook. Stephen took his own life during the night of April 24, 2000 in Newton, MA. He had been arrested and incarcerated two months earlier for making a telephone call to his daughter on Monday instead of Sunday.

The vigil is being sponsored by The Fatherhood Coalition, a statewide non-profit organization of men and women advocating for fatherhood and equal parenting rights. The vigil will pay tribute to Cook, a father and friend, and victim of an oppressive Family Court and state-sanctioned abuse prevention system which causes suffering for thousands of men, fathers and children across Massachusetts.

Victimized by Mass. 209A abuse prevention law

Sources close to Cook claim his estranged wife used a network of state and local authorities from various police departments, the Department of Social Services, the Courts and victims' advocates agencies to harass and drive him to his death. She held a 209A protection order against him that constrained contact between him and his four-year-old daughter. Under the conditions of the protection order he was allowed to telephone her on Sunday evenings. Cook mistakenly called on a Monday, and was prosecuted and convicted of violating the 209A order. He served a 60-day sentence at the Dedham House of Correction for his "crime," and was released April 2.

During his incarceration, his wife, Jo Ann spent their $80,000 insurance settlement in Las Vegas and later sold a home, which they bought from the sale of inherited property from Cook's family. She also has children from previous relationships which she had not fully informed Cook.

Cook was an ill man. He used a cane and crutches as a result of two hip replacements and had screws in his ankles. He had heart disease and was recovering from surgery.

Mr. Cook was born on December 6, 1952. He was raised in Needham and graduated from Needham High School in 1971. Steven is survived by several siblings and his daughter Colleen whom he loved very much.

The vigil will be a memorial to Steven and other men who have committed suicide due in part to the issuance of a restraining order. It will also be a protest against the blatant sex discrimination of the domestic violence regime, the unconstitutionality of the Violence Against Women Act, the destruction of our families by the courts, and the abuse of our children by the Department of Social Services and the legal establishment.

Several speakers will be on hand to share their thoughts about Steven Cook and the larger context that frames his tragic death.

All concerned citizens are invited and encouraged to attend. For additional information contact co-chairs Douglas Turcotte at (508) 653-1132, Earl Henry Sholley at (508) 699-0432 or the Fatherhood Coalition at (617) SAD-DADS

The Needham Town Common is directly in front of the Needham Town Hall adjacent to Route # 135, which is directly off of Route # 128.

# # #

Why we remember a father
By Earl Sholley and Doug Turcotte

Vigil Directions & Program

Needham Divorced Father/209A-Defendant Kills Self
Pressures from divorce too much, attorney says
Family, friends, and sympathizers to attend funeral tomorrow
(April 28, 2000 press release)

For further information, contact:

Mark Charalambous
CPF Spokesman
(978) 840-0268

Earl Sholley
CPF Southwest Metro chapter director
(508) 699-0432

Doug Turcotte
Friend of Steven Cook
(508) 653-1132

CPF - The Fatherhood Coalition

A non-profit, all volunteer organization of men and women advocating for fatherhood since 1994

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