For Immediate Release

Fatherhood Coalition's Harry Stewart convicted on restraining order violation - gets 6 months suspended sentence

Refusal to sign self-incriminating Orwellian document for admission into batterers program means his arrest and jail is imminent

QUINCY, July 2, 1999—On the day after Fathers Day, Fatherhood Coalition south shore director Rev. Harry Stewart was found guilty of violating a MGL 209A domestic restraining order. The jury trial was held in Quincy District Court. Presiding Judge Joseph Welch instructed the jury that even though no abuse had taken place, their task was only to determine if Stewart violated the court order. Stewart was accused of exiting his car and holding open an apartment complex foyer door to assist his 5-year-old son in returning home to his mother after a visit. Following the verdict, Welch imposed a six-month suspended jail sentence pending completion of a batterers program (Common Purpose), and two years probation.

Orwellian "batterers program"

Excerpts from eight-page "Guideline and Agreement" document that must be signed by participants entering into Common Purpose batterer's intervention program:
  • "I understand that my acts of physical, emotional, and verbal violence are a means of controlling the victim's actions, thoughts and feelings. I accept responsibility for my violence and for my coercive control without reservation.
  • "I acknowledge the negative effects of my abuse on my relationship, my partner, my children, my friends, myself. I will be accountable for these effects to my partner and others.
  • "I acknowledge the root of my violence and the cultural and social context in which I used violence against my partner."

This was only the first of four counts Stewart is facing for allegedly violating the many restraining orders his ex-wife has held against him following their family breakup. Stewart is scheduled to be tried in September for the other counts.

Following the verdict and sentencing, the victim witness advocate and the prosecuting Assistant District Attorney Kathy Caprelli were observed celebrating in the DA's office.

None of the alleged violations Stewart is facing are for anything other than violations of the no-contact provisions of the several orders.

Stewart faces catch-22 situation with batterers program

Conditions for Stewart's suspended sentence require him to complete a so-called "batterer's intervention program" given by a group called Common Purpose in Quincy. If he is unable to complete the program, the jail sentence will be immediately imposed. From the looks of things, the Rev. Stewart will not spend much time in this limbo, since the program requires so-called "batterers" to complete and sign a confession. It's an eight-page document called "Guidelines and Agreement for Group Participation." By signing the agreement, participants admit to criminal guilt (see sidebar: "Orwellian batterers program"). Once signed, Stewart will have effectively waived his defense that he is not violent and has never abused his wife during their twelve-year marriage.

Each year approximately one percent of Massachusetts' adult population is served with a 209A abuse prevention order; the majority are men. The Fatherhood Coalition maintains that 209A orders are not only routinely abused by women, but that the law itself is unconstitutional. Many, many men, as well as an increasing number of women, have been victimized by 209A. Many of them are fathers like Stewart, whose problems stemmed from a divorce involving children. The Stewart case is especially noteworthy because it highlights many of the panoply of injustices perpetrated under the guise of protecting women from domestic violence:

In a court hearing several weeks ago where Stewart's existing 209A order was extended for another year, Judge Eileen Shaevel repeatedly intoned, "But she's afraid of you," despite Stewart's protestations that there had never been any allegations of violence against him and no significant contact between the parties in four years.

Stewart has never been even accused of domestic violence, yet his wife's mere claim that she is "afraid of him" is sufficient to trigger a 209A order stripping him of his parental rights.

There is no distinction between violations that actually endanger the "abused" and those that are mere technical violations, such as attempting to speak to one's children on the phone. All of Stewart's alleged violations are for these kinds of violations. The penalty for violation is the same: maximum 2 1/2 years in jail and $2,500 fine.

There is also no distinction between intentional, accidental, and contrived violations. Stewart did not intend to violate the conditions of the 209A orders, he was merely acting as any responsible parent would. Men have been prosecuted for contact that has been accidental, such as in a shopping mall, as well as contact that was contrived by the "victim."

Domestic violence prevention is a one-size-fits-all black box, which demonstrates that in Massachusetts' domestic relations jurisprudence, Justice is truly a blind woman with a sword.

In September 1997, Stewart was featured on a Channel 7 News report on battered husbands. For 12 years, Stewart claims he was repeatedly assaulted and terrorized by his ex-wife. He has been assaulted with a knife and a cooking pot. When the issue is domestic violence between a man and a woman, the present regime permits only women to be classified as victims, as personified in the Stewart case.

Domestic Violence "Crimes"

These are some of the 209A restraining order violations Harry Stewart has been charged with:

  • Opening a foyer door so his five-year-old son could ring the bell for his mother on a visitation return. April 12, 1997. Found guilty, June 21.
  • Picking up his children on foot when his car was broken. 209A order required him to stay in his vehicle. July 17, 1997
  • Picking up his children when his visitation was temporarily suspended following a court miscommunication. August 23, 1997
  • Exiting his car at his children's school to pick them up for a scheduled visitation. December 1998
  • Exiting his car to help his son with a package during a visitation exchange in the summer of 1997.
  • Exiting his car to pick up his son who had fallen down while running to Stewart's car for a visitation pick-up. April 12, 1997.

Harry Stewart is facing TEN YEARS in jail for these domestic violence "crimes."

Rather than receiving treatment for her violent behavior, Stewart's wife has been treated as a victim of domestic violence. The domestic violence regime has given her the confused message that even though she is violent, she is a still a victim.

Since 1692 when jury acquittals eventually ended the Salem witch trials, to a 1972 D.C Court of Appeals decision, juries have been empowered to vote their conscience when they believe that application of a criminal law will result in an injustice. The jury in Stewart's case should have been instructed not only that Stewart is not accused of abuse, but that the jury should find him innocent if they think he should not be convicted of a crime for getting out of his car to help his son return to his mother's home.

Perhaps the most sinister aspect of the entire Stewart affair is the catch-22 situation he now faces. To avoid going to jail, he must admit to crimes he never committed. These programs belong in a totalitarian state, not a free society. They are essentially reeducation camps for men, where they are indoctrinated in the evils of the patriarchy as established by radical victim-feminist ideology, and where innocent men are often coerced into confessing to crimes they didn't commit. Typical psychobabble jargon is employed to classify innocent men who refuse to admit to their "crimes" as "in denial," or "minimizing" their abuse.

Fatherhood Coalition and Stewart Plan Response

Expecting an arrest warrant for Stewart, the Fatherhood Coalition is planning a public surrender accompanied by a protest demonstration.

Additionally, the coalition intends to formally petition the Judiciary Committee to request the Supreme Judicial Court to immediately initiate a thorough constitutional review of 209A, and to immediately reverse the judgment and vacate the sentence.

The Fatherhood Coalition, along with over a hundred other activists, supporters, and victims of restraining order abuse, recently testified to the Judiciary Committee in favor of the 209A Reform Bill, H3504.

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For further information, contact:

Mark Charalambous
CPF Spokesman
brontis@ziplink.net

Phyllis Field, Esq.
(Stewart's attorney)

John Flaherty
CPF Co-Chairman
jmflaherty@aol.com

Harry Stewart
CPF-South Shore chapter

978-840-0268

617-472-5255

508-478-7529

617-376-9987

CPF - The Fatherhood Coalition
617-723-DADS

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


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