For Immediate Release

Divorced father begins 6-month sentence for 209A restraining order paper crime

Harry Stewart condemned by refusal to sign false confession

QUINCY, August 18, 1999—After two years of hearings, continuances, and courthouse protests, Harry Stewart was shackled and taken to the Dedham House of Correction to begin serving his six-month jail sentence yesterday.

Judge Mark Coven of Quincy District Court banged the gavel of finality around 3 p.m. yesterday at Stewart's third and final appearance before him that day. Stewart was tried and convicted on June 21 of violating a 209A abuse protection (restraining order) in 1997 when he left his car to assist his 5-year-old son return to his mother's home. The conditions of the 209A order required him to remain in his car at visitation pickup/drop-offs. Stewart's son was unable to open the apartment complex outside door, and after futile attempts to get his ex-wife's attention by honking his car horn, Stewart got out of his car to help his son get in the home.

Stewart was sentenced to two-year's probation and a suspended six-month sentence pending completion of a batterer's program. He was later denied entry into the Common Purpose batterer's program because he refused to sign an admission document that required him to admit to acts of violence. Stewart has never been violent, and his several counts of restraining order violations are all of the no-contact provision, such as exiting his car.

In Stewart's first appearance before Judge Coven, he explained why he was refused admission to the program, and stated his objections of conscience. Judge Coven then referred Stewart to another program, with instructions to return back later in the day. Stewart discovered that all the state's batterer's programs have the same requirement of guilt admission, and he was unable to persuade the program to allow him to enroll without admitting to crimes he never committed.

Stewart gave an emotional speech to the court, closing with "God save the children," which was greeted by applause by his many supporters from the Fatherhood Coalition present in the courtroom. Judge Coven immediately ordered the supporters out of the courtroom. When the sentence was pronounced, several battered women's advocates and women from the district attorney's office showed their approval by clapping. They were not ordered out of the courtroom.

Orwellian Batterer's Programs

The state's so-called "batterer's intervention programs" have a poor success rate, probably due to the fact that many of their clients are innocent men like Harry who attend as a condition for avoiding jail. The programs subscribe to an orthodox, victim-feminist interpretation of gender relations: abuse and control of women is inherent in the construct of masculinity; men who refuse to admit to their gender crimes are "in denial;" and the "theory of escalating violence." This theory holds that if a man is "abusive" (as defined by domestic violence "experts" such as EMERGE's David Adams) to any degree, he will eventually kill his wife/girlfriend unless there is intervention. That is, an angry husband's look with eventually result in homicide.

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."

"Batterer's" are evaluated by psychological "batterer's profiles" developed by people from the domestic violence industry, who also provide training materials for the state's judges that includes these nuggets of wisdom:

But batterer's programs hold the threat of imprisonment over their clients by virtue of the power to fail them, violating their conditions for probation: "State regulations require that batterer programs terminate batterers from counseling if they have inadequate attendance, poor attitude or participation."

For men ordered into these programs, innocence is not a possibility. Denial of guilt shows a "poor attitude," and cause for termination. In such Kafkaesque circumstances, it's no surprise when batterers eventually emerge from "denial." Many accused witches confessed in 1692 after the Court of Oyer and Terminer declared that admitted witches would no longer be executed.

Harry Stewart, man of conscience, didn't take the easy way out. He has refused to go along and add his name to the burgeoning population of "batterers."

Fatherhood Coalition responds

The Fatherhood Coalition calls on all good citizens of the commonwealth to support their effort to 'FREE HARRY!' and expose the doublespeak and double standards of the state's heavily funded domestic violence regime. These entities, both public and private such as the district attorney's office and Common Purpose, not only harm innocent men and their children, they also contribute to a growing disenchantment with government, as due process, equal protection and civil and human rights are increasingly violated for the acceptable target group of the day: non-custodial fathers.

The Fatherhood Coalition will hold a candlelight vigil for Stewart outside the Dedham House of Correction this Sunday at 8:30 p.m. They ask that supporters show up one hour beforehand.

Other plans are underway. The Fatherhood Coalition will be petitioning the Supreme Judicial Court (via the legislature's Judiciary Committee) to undertake an immediate constitutional review of 209A, and to reverse and vacate Stewart's conviction and sentence.

Also, the Fatherhood Coalition will soon be filing a federal, multi-plaintiff lawsuit against the justices of the state's Trial Court, for discrimination against men in domestic relations cases, such as custody, child support, and 209A.


For further information, contact:

Mark Charalambous
CPF Spokesman

Phyllis Field, Esq.
(Stewart's attorney)

John Flaherty
CPF Co-Chairman




CPF - The Fatherhood Coalition

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


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