Tag Archives: mother

Mother charged with using crucifix to kill daughter

A 49-year-old Oklahoma woman has been charged with first-degree murder on suspicion of killing her daughter whom she thought was possessed by the devil by jamming a crucifix down her throat and beating her, court records released this week showed.

Juanita Gomez was booked last week in the death of Geneva Gomez, whose body was found in an Oklahoma City home with a large cross on her chest, a probable cause affidavit said.

Local media said the daughter was 33 years old.

No lawyer was listed for Gomez in online jail records.

Police said Gomez confessed to the crime, telling officers she forced a crucifix and religious medallion down her daughter’s throat until blood came out.

“Juanita saw her daughter die and then placed her body in the shape of a cross,” the affidavit said.

Gomez was being held without bond at the Oklahoma County jail.

Mother convicted of murdering 4-year-old she thought was gay

Oregon jurors took a little more than an hour to convict a 25-year-old woman of murder in the death of her 4-year-old son. A prosecutor who emphasized that the boy’s sister had witnessed the fatal beating said earlier that a motive behind the violence was the woman’s belief that the boy was gay.

Sentencing for Jessica Dutro was set for April 18 in Washington County Circuit Court.

Little Zachary Dutro-Boggess died of intestinal tears caused by abdominal trauma, The Oregonian reported. He collapsed at the homeless shelter where his family was living southwest of Portland.

Jurors were told that Zachary’s then-7-year-old sister watched her mother and her mother’s boyfriend beat the boy on Aug. 12, 2012.

“They beat up my brother, then he died,” the girl told her counselor. “I seen them.”

The boyfriend, Brian Canady, earlier pleaded guilty to manslaughter and assault for his role in the boy’s death.

The case drew widespread attention after prosecutors asked the court to allow Facebook messages from Dutro into evidence.

In one message to her boyfriend, Dutro wrote using a slur that Zachary would be gay. “He walks like it and talks like it ugh,” she wrote. That made her angry, she added, and directed Canady to “work on” Zachary “big time.”

Prosecutor Megan Johnson told the court the message showed Dutro’s motive for subjecting Zachary to a pattern of abuse. Judge Don Letourneau deemed the message admissible.

Defense lawyer Chris Colburn said the message did not prove any motive on Dutro’s part. Colburn argued none of the evidence tied Dutro to the crime.

In her closing argument, Johnson focused on the little girl’s words, rather than on the Facebook messages.

In his closing, Colburn addressed the Facebook comments and Dutro’s use of a slur.

What she wrote was meant as a joke, he said. While it was offensive, he said it would be ridiculous to draw a connection between the message and the little boy’s death.

Wisconsin eyes Everclear, strong liquor ban in 2014

Jeff Wielichowski drowned in his family’s pool two summers ago after drinking a mix of Gatorade, Red Bull and Everclear with some friends.

At 190 proof, or 95 percent alcohol, Everclear packs more than twice the punch of the best-selling brands of whiskey, vodka and gin. And at about $18 per bottle, it has long been a popular ingredient in boozy punches served at parties in and around college campuses.

That may change soon in Wisconsin, where Wielichowski’s mother, Luanne Wielichowski, has channeled her grief into pushing state lawmakers to ban the sale of high-potent liquors like Everclear. A bill that would ban the sale of alcohol that’s 190-proof or higher is gathering bipartisan support in the Legislature and could be voted on early next year.

Luanne Wielichowski said she’s hopeful the bill could be passed in 2014.

“God I hope so. I really, really hope so,” she said. “My son’s not coming back. This is for some other kid that hopefully won’t die because they had this lethal concoction in their body.”

Changes to liquor laws are a tough sell in booze-friendly Wisconsin, which has the third-lowest tax on beer nationwide and a strong alcohol lobby. While support is building for the ban, at least one powerful group is aiming to stop it.

The Wisconsin Grocers Association will likely oppose the bill out of concerns that it would open the door to other products being banned, said the group’s president Brandon Scholz.

“While we are concerned about the few incidences of irresponsible use of this product, we have much greater concerns about the slippery slope that is created with the ban of this product,” Scholz said. “What’s next? Ban all alcohol products? Beer and wine as well?”

The influential Tavern League, which represents Wisconsin’s bar owners, isn’t taking a position on the bill, said lobbyist Scott Stenger.

The Wisconsin Wine and Spirit Institute, which represents liquor wholesalers in the state, has not discussed the proposal, said Joel Frank, the group’s lobbyist. Frank is also president of Frank Beverage Group, a liquor wholesaler that distributes in Madison and southwestern Wisconsin. He said sales of high-alcohol content liquors like Everclear are minuscule.

“There would be no economic side effects” if the bill passed, Frank said.

The CEO of Luxco, the St. Louis-based company that makes Everclear, declined to comment on the bill.

“We leave it up to the legislature within the state to reach its own conclusions on what might or might not be in the best interests of its citizens,” said company chairman and CEO Donn Lux in an email.

Fifteen other states, including Minnesota, Michigan and Iowa, already ban high-potent liquors.

Everclear is sold at both 151 proof, or roughly 75 percent alcohol content, and 190 proof, or 95 percent alcohol content. Most popular hard liquors like gin, vodka, and brandy are sold at around 80 proof, or 40 percent alcohol.

Because of its high alcohol content, Everclear is most frequently used as an ingredient in cocktails or punches.

“It has no taste. It’s only purpose is to impair people quickly,” said Julia Sherman, coordinator of the Wisconsin Alcohol Policy Project at the University of Wisconsin Law School. “We don’t need it on the shelves.”

Rep. AndrΘ Jacque, R-De Pere, is sponsoring the bill in the Assembly. He’s working with Rep. Terese Berceau, D-Madison, who circulated an earlier version after being contacted by Wielichowski.

“It’s essentially a poison,” Jacque said of Everclear. “This stuff will mess you up really bad.”

Jacque said he was concerned about young people such as college students and those with less drinking experience being caught off-guard by the potency of Everclear masked by juices or other ingredients.

“It can certainly be very destructive very quickly,” Jacque said.

Frank, the liquor wholesaler, said he understands why some would support a ban, but he said there are also some cocktail recipes that rely on 190 proof alcohol.

“There are legitimate purposes for the product besides what you and I would conceive of as the social ills,” Frank said.

Everclear is described on Luxco’s website as having “tremendous brand recognition and a loyal, near cult-status, following.”

Luanne Wielichowski said she hopes that through her efforts, she will help keep other parents from going through the grief she’s endured since her son died.

“My life is pretty much been in pain ever since,” she said.

Supreme Court lets Texas anti-abortion law stay for now

A third of Texas’ abortion clinics will stay closed after the U.S. Supreme Court declined this week to intervene in an ongoing legal dispute over a tough new law that Planned Parenthood claims unconstitutionally restricts women’s rights.

At least 12 Texas abortion clinics have been closed since October, after a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals allowed the law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital to take effect.

No more than 20 clinics were able to meet the new standard, and some women must travel hundreds of miles (kilometers) to obtain an abortion. All of the facilities that remain open are in metropolitan areas, with none in the Rio Grande Valley along the border with Mexico.

The Supreme Court’s decision isn’t the final say on the restriction. But it means that the law will remain in effect while Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit challenging it continues. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals plans to have a hearing in January on the lawsuit.

Texas is the nation’s second-most populous state, and an average of 80,000 abortions are performed there each year.

The Supreme Court’s decision came in an appeal of a decision from a 5th Circuit panel that said Texas could enforce the law at least until the panel can hold a hearing in January. The 5th Circuit’s ruling came after U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel blocked the provision, saying it served no medical purpose and created an illegal barrier for women seeking an abortion.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in a sharply divided 5-4 opinion that abortion clinics had failed to prove that the 5th Circuit acted improperly. Writing for the minority, Justice Stephen Breyer said the better course would have been to block the law at least until the three-judge appeals panel issued its final ruling because some women will be unable to obtain abortions.

The five justices and three appeals court judges who sided with Texas are all Republican appointees. The four dissenting justices are Democratic appointees. Yeakel, who initially blocked the provision, is a Republican appointee.

Republican Gov. Rick Perry praised the Supreme Court action.

“This is good news both for the unborn and for the women of Texas, who are now better protected from shoddy abortion providers operating in dangerous conditions. As always, Texas will continue doing everything we can to protect the culture of life in our state,” Perry said.

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said the groups will continue the legal fight.

“This law is blocking women in Texas from getting a safe and legal medical procedure that has been their constitutionally protected right for 40 years. This is outrageous and unacceptable — and also demonstrates why we need stronger federal protections for women’s health. Your rights and your ability to make your own medical decisions should not depend on your ZIP code,” Richards said.

The Texas law on admitting privileges was part of a package of abortion restrictions that the GOP-controlled Legislature passed over the summer. The restrictions, which are among the toughest in the nation, gained notoriety when Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis launched a nearly 13-hour filibuster against them in June.

Although several conservative states in recent months have approved broad abortion limits, the Texas ones were particularly divisive because of the number of clinics affected and the distance some women would have to travel to get an abortion.

The other states that are enforcing laws on admitting privileges are Tennessee and Utah. Courts have temporarily halted similar laws in Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, North Dakota and Wisconsin.

Margaret Cho brings ‘Mother’ to Milwaukee

Grammy-nominee Margaret Cho is constantly evolving professionally and personally. Best known as a comedian, Cho is famous for stand-up routines that feature graphic, acerbic commentary on social and political issues. Outspoken in her advocacy for LGBT equality, Cho is herself an out bisexual married to artist Al Ridenour.

With “Cho Dependent,” an album released in 2011, the prolific Cho also became a full-fledged singer-songwriter.

In addition to her stand-up work and music, Cho is a writer, actor and burlesque performer. She’s a regular on the Lifetime TV series “Drop Dead Diva,” which was renewed for its fifth season in March. In July, she launched the Web series “In Transition” on YouTube. The series, which follows three women recently released from prison, is classic Cho material.

Cho brings her latest comedy tour, which is titled “Mother,” to Milwaukee’s Pabst Theater on Oct. 20.

I spoke with her recently about the tour and other current issues in her life and career.

 The tagline for “Mother” is “Nothing is sacred. Least of all this.” 

Margaret Cho: I think that motherhood is considered a sacred thing. But a mother has to have sex in order to be a mother. You have to have sex quite a lot of times, actually, in order to get it to work. That’s sort of my thing. Being maternal doesn’t necessarily mean being holy, being sacred. Even though I’m not a mother myself, there are a lot of people who relate to me as a maternal figure because of my age. I think that makes me a mother of the world by default, which is great. The show is also about my mother, which (has been) a popular thing in my work over the years. 

How do you think your mother feels about being a part of your act?

I think she loves it! I think she loves the feeling of being included and feeling like she’s being seen and heard – that her words and presence have a lot of value to me. I’ve been making fun of my mom since I was a really young kid. 

What’s the worst advice your mother ever gave you?

To pluck above my eyebrow line. She does that. That was bad advice. 

There are different kinds of motherhood. As a dog-person, do you feel like your dogs fulfill the mother/child relationship for you?

Oh, yes! It is a very enriching thing, a very powerful thing. I think animals and people are meant to cohabitate. I don’t think it competes with the mother-and-child dynamic, but it’s certainly something that satisfies a very important need. Children are obviously much more important. With an animal, your interspecies differences are always going to be there. It’s just different. 

Do you have plans to record or film the “Mother” tour?

Yes, that will happen later in the year when I finish out the tour. It should be out around Christmas or so.

I recently interviewed “Drop Dead Diva” creator Josh Berman, and we talked about what it means to him that the show was saved from cancellation. As a cast member, what does it mean to you? 

It’s really great. I think the show is great. I’m so excited. I’ve never seen that happen before. To have something that was canceled and then renewed, it was a new phenomenon. I didn’t realize that could happen.

I was glad to hear that your new album incorporates music with comedy in a way similar to “Cho Dependent.” What can you tell me about it?

It’s finished. Right now I’m putting everything together. I won’t release it until I finish my tour, because I want to come back and make videos. It goes into really weird territory. I was imagining what musicians from North Korea would sound like. I thought they would sound like country musicians. I think North Korea probably sounds like Nashville in the ’50s (laughs).

Not Death Metal?

No. It’s very country and very simple.  Also, I’ve written songs for Yoko Ono, which Sean Lennon cried when he heard them. 

That’s interesting because in recent years Yoko has topped the dance music charts.

She’s a phenomenal artist. I wrote her a dance song that addresses the tragedy that exists around her personal life and history in music. Sean was really moved. I don’t know if they’re going to do it, but it would be an honor. I want to start a full Asian band with Cibo Matto and Sean Lennon. A big Asian supergroup (laughs).

As a frequent talk-show guest, as well as a guest co-host on “The View,” do you have any interest in hosting your own talk show – maybe taking on the late night boys club of Letterman, Fallon, Kimmel and Leno?

(Laughs.) I would love to. There’s nothing I would like to do more. I think it would be so fun to have a really wild place that would be like Chelsea Lately meets Graham Norton with the rock ’n’ roll. I’ve been wanting to do that for a long time.

In these post-DOMA days, with your ability to officiate weddings, has anyone asked you to perform a marriage during one of your concert dates?

Yes. I’m going to be doing them off and on. I have deputization in California to perform weddings, and I also have that Universal Life Church Monastery card, so I have the ability to marry people all over the world. I’m doing some ceremonies. But it’s always going be different in every state. For example, I don’t know what it’s going mean in Georgia, where we film “Drop Dead Diva.” But it’s a great thing. I’m going to be performing lots of weddings. I have done them (during) concert dates before, but nobody’s asked for this tour yet. 

I want to thank you for your routines on outing closeted celebrities and Hollywood homophobia and hypocrisy. 

For me, I’m super honest about my life. I think people would be happier just being themselves. That’s my truth as coming from an older person. If people are truthful in the way I am then things go easier. But Hollywood is a weird place. It’s a weird situation where people want to be perceived in a certain way. Also, I’m just trying to be funny. The whole point of making that joke was so that I could talk about the police sketch artist doing a drawing of John Travolta’s asshole. I just wanted to make this really crass ridiculous joke about Helen Mirren coming across the police sketch artist’s portrait of John Travolta’s asshole (laughs). What people forget about comedy is that it’s just there to be ridiculous.

Do you have concerns about your safety?

No, but it would be fierce if I did. Wouldn’t that just be fierce? If I just had to have security. Having bodyguards and having to be protected, that is so fierce.

If you had metal detectors at your shows, what would happen to all the people with piercings and cock rings?

I know! It’s so sad to separate a drag queen from her purse when she has to go through the X-ray machine.

Angelina Jolie writes about having a preventive double mastectomy

Actress Angelina Jolie disclosed that she had a preventive double mastectomy after she learned she carried a gene that made it highly likely she would develop breast cancer.

Jolie made the announcement in an op-ed in the May 14 issue of The New York Times. The headline read, “My Medical Choice.”

The 37-year-old Oscar-winner said that between early February and late April she completed three months of surgical procedures to remove both breasts.

She arrived at her decision after thinking about her children and the death of her mother, actress Marcheline Bertrand, from cancer.

Jolie wrote, “My mother fought cancer for almost a decade and died at 56. She held out long enough to meet the first of her grandchildren and to hold them in her arms. But my other children will never have the chance to know her and experience how loving and gracious she was.”

Jolie, who is married to actor Brad Pitt, said her children have asked “if the same could happen to me.”

Genetic testing showed Jolie carries the BRCA1 gene and she was told she had an 87 percent chance of getting breast cancer.

She said she decided to write about her decision and the surgery to help other women.

“I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made,” Jolie wrote. “My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent. I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.”


Lesbian teacher to fight firing from Catholic school

A lesbian teacher who said she was fired by an Ohio Catholic school after her mother’s published obituary included the name of her partner is fighting to get her job back.

Carla Hale, 57, said she was told she was being let go because her relationship is against teachings of the church.

She planned to file a complaint this week with the city of Columbus, which prohibits firings based on sexual orientation, her attorney said Monday. She already filed a grievance that is now in the hands of a union representing teachers in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus.

Some current and former students have rallied behind the physical education teacher, staging a protest outside the diocese headquarters and starting an online petition that has collected about 100,000 supporters.

Hale said she was fired during Holy Week in March after an anonymous letter sent to school administrators drew attention to the obituary published in The Columbus Dispatch.

A copy of the letter provided by her attorney was signed “a concerned parent.”

“My daughter came home and told me that one of the gym teacher’s mother had died,” the letter said. “She asked me to pray for her. When we looked in the obituaries, I was shocked by what I saw. It had her teacher’s name and that of her `spouse’ listed. It was two females!”

Hale, who is Methodist, was informed about two weeks after her mother’s death that the school was investigating, but she never had a chance to discuss it with school leaders, said attorney Thomas Tootle.

Hale, who had spent 19 years teaching at Bishop Watterson High School, said the decision to acknowledge her partner was not immoral.

“It’s kind of baffling that someone would take an obituary and use it, to me, in such a mean-spirited manner,” Hale said at a news conference last week.

The Diocese of Columbus would not comment directly about the firing, but it said school employees can’t go against teachings of the church.

“All Catholic school personnel at the outset of their employment agree that they will abide by the rules, regulations and policies of the Catholic Diocese, including respecting the moral values advanced by the teachings of Christ,” the diocese said in a statement.

Hale’s attorney said he will file a complaint on April 30 with a Columbus community relations board, arguing that the firing violates the city ordinance on employers discriminating based on sexual orientation. Another option is a wrongful termination lawsuit, Tootle said.

He said some courts have allowed religious groups exemptions to similar discrimination laws, but he thinks the case is similar to one in Cincinnati where a teacher challenged her firing by the archdiocese over her use of artificial insemination to become pregnant. A federal judge has allowed that lawsuit to continue.

Teacher fired for listing her partner’s name in her mother’s obituary

A teacher in the Columbus, Ohio, area was fired for listing her partner as part of her family in her mother’s obituary.

When Bishop Watterson High School teacher Carla Hale returned to work last month after her mother’s death, administrators at the Catholic school in Clintonville confronted her about the obit, according to the Columbus Dispatch. Several weeks later, Hale was fired for being in a same-sex relationship, she said.

Students and other supporters initiated a petition on change.org to seek Hale’s reinstatement. “The school claims its mission is to teach its students about love, acceptance and tolerance, and yet it did none of this in the way it treated Ms. Hale,” the petition says.

“It’s amazing that they’ve come together and rallied around this situation,” Hale, a physical education teacher at the school for 19 years, told the Dispatch. “I’m in awe of them.”

According to a contract between the Columbus diocese and the Central Ohio Association of Catholic Educators, teachers can be terminated for “immorality” or “serious unethical conduct.

Hale said she’s filed a grievance under the terms of the contract, seeking her job back. Her attorney, Thomas Tootle, said they are exploring other legal options.

Catholic school gym teacher fired after listing lesbian partner in mom’s obituary

An online petition demands the reinstatement of a teacher fired from a Catholic school in Ohio after she listed her female partner’s name in her mother’s obituary.

The Change.org petition campaign began on April 17 on behalf of PE teacher Carla Hale, who was fired from Bishop Watterson High School in Clintonville.

The petition states, “It’s unfair that someone who cared so much about her students and her job should lose them on the basis of something she cannot even control. The school claims its mission is to teach its students about love, acceptance, and tolerance, and yet it did none of this in the way it treated Ms. Hale.”

The petition also states, “When we allow injustice to go unnoticed and unpunished, we all are hurt. We have an obligation to Ms. Hale and ourselves to make sure the school hears us and decides to overturn its decision.”

The Columbus Dispatch reports that a contract between the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus and the Central Ohio Association of Catholic Educators, teachers can be terminated for “immorality” or “serious unethical conduct.”

A graduate of the high school and a friend of Hale’s family, Lindsey Perkins, told the newspaper that the school fired the teacher after a parent complained to the diocese about the obit, which was published in The Dispatch.

Perkins, in the paper, described Hale a “wonderful teacher and amazing role model.”

There are about 1,000 students attending Watterson.

More than 10,000 people have signed the petition.

The petition contains a short letter to the diocese that reads: Diocese of Columbus, Reinstate faculty member Carla Hale and apologize for discriminating against her on the basis of sexuality.”

On the Web…


Agreement for gay sperm donor, lesbian moms

When Massimiliano Gerina donated his sperm to a lesbian couple nearly three years ago, the gay hair dresser wanted to be a father, not just a donor. Several months into his friend’s pregnancy, though, he claims the couple tried to force him out, leading to a lengthy court battle.

After years of heartbreak and distrust and tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, the couple approached Gerina with an agreement last week. Three names would appear on Emma’s birth certificate, and Maria Italiano and her partner, Cher Filippazzo, were given sole parental responsibility, which means they get to make decisions about Emma’s health and well-being, according to their attorneys.

Gerina missed Emma’s birth and her first words, but now he gets weekly visits with his daughter, who is almost 2. 

“We created this family that is very unusual,” Gerina said. “Love doesn’t have sex or color. If you have love to give to a child, please just do it.”

Gerina, a 35-year-old stylist who cuts hair at a trendy salon, moved to Miami in 2005 from Italy. He said he always wanted to be a father, but worried it wouldn’t happen because he was gay. And he said he didn’t have a relationship with his own father.

He became friends with the couple after a few years of styling Italiano’s hair.  When she and Filippazzo approached him in 2010 about donating sperm and being a father, it seemed ideal, Gerina said.

“We went in always with the intention that Emma is going to know who her dad is … we wanted him to have a role in her life but not as a parent,” Filippazzo, 38, said.

The women, who were married in Connecticut, had spent thousands of dollars trying to get pregnant through in-vitro fertilization, but it never took. So the trio worked out the arrangement at a pizzeria and a few weeks later Italiano, 43, was pregnant.

“I never took this lightly. I knew that there was going to be money involved, time, emotions … and I was ready for it,” Gerina said, sitting in an outdoor cafe in front of the salon where he works.

Gerina was on the phone with the couple almost daily. He went to the ultrasound and friends threw him a baby shower. Everything seemed fine.

But seven months into the pregnancy, Gerina said the couple asked him to sign legal documents that essentially gave away his rights.

“Of course, I was hurt,” he said.

He hired a lawyer, who drew up legal papers describing the situation he thought had agreed to, but he said the women refused to sign it. In the meantime, he sued the couple and got a tattoo in honor of Emma on his arm.

Then, a few weeks before the trial, he said Filippazzo called him and said she only cared about doing what was right for her daughter.

“Emma needs you and you need Emma,” he recalled Filippazzo saying. “I want her to know that we came out between us with an agreement. I don’t want a judge, a stranger, to decide.”

A judge signed off on the arrangement on Jan. 31. In two years, the couple will consider letting Gerina have overnight visits with Emma.

Steve Majors, spokesman for the Family Equality Council in Massachusetts, said there weren’t any national statistics on couples who decide to co-parent, but he said the Florida case was significant.

“The fact that we have a dad who is playing a role in the upbringing of a child and being recognized on a birth certificate is very important because it speaks to the larger problem of many couples out there who do not have legal ties to their own children,” said Majors, whose group advocates on behalf of same-sex families.

Gerina’s attorney, Karyn Begin, said the three will navigate their future on their own terms.

“What’s important right now is that we have conditions that exist for this family to be together and only time will tell how it plays out for them,” Begin said.

For now, the three are busy planning Emma’s second birthday. They need to find a bounce house and decide whether to have an Elmo or Dora the Explorer cake, Gerina said.

“I love Massimo,” Filippazzo said tearfully, referring to Gerina. “I think he needed to feel that I love and appreciate him and that we could forgive and go forward.”