It was 5am and as I laced up my sneakers for my morning run I turned on the news. It normally plays in the background keeping me company during my early morning runs, sound turned down while music pumps through my body keeping me going. The flashes on the screen giving me a taste of the days news as most people are still soundly sleeping in their warm beds.
Today a face flashed across the screen that caused me to take out my earphones and shift my focus to the screen. It was Michael Rafferty’s mother. For my readers who don’t live in southern Ontario where this story has taken over the news, you may have to google it because the contents are so disturbing that I don’t want to go into them. In short, Michael Rafferty and his girlfriend kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered an eight year old girl.
To be perfectly honest, when news stories come across the TV regarding this case, I tune out. I can’t listen to the details of the story as they have caused me some anxiety. After listening to one of the first reports after this trial started I had nightmares for a month. I decided then that I would not be able follow this trial as it hit too close to home for me.
This time was different, it was the first time I had seen the mother of the accused. I was interested in hearing what she had to say. Would she defend her son? Would she apologize to the victims for the pain her child caused? I didn’t know what to expect.
When I finally heard what she had to say I was disgusted. She laid the blame elsewhere. I understand that her son is pleading not guilty but does that mean that he has no guilt? That he played no part at all in this crime. She claimed that her “son is innocent” and that “Terri McClintic has wrecked their lives” She further mentioned that Rafferty’s” biggest mistake was meeting McClintic” and that “this could happen to any man walking around right now”.
I felt compelled to speak to these comments. To say that I was appalled would be an understatement. Firstly, I understand your instinct to protect your son, to defend him but would a Mother’s love really make you believe anything?. Let’s be perfectly honest here. Her son was far from an innocent victim and no this could not happen to any man. Most men wouldn’t just sit back and go along for the ride when a little girl is kidnapped and brought to them. Most men would turn that child and the kidnapper into the police right away. Most men wouldn’t allow someone to murder a child in front of them without intervening. His biggest mistake was not meeting McClintic, it was taking part in such a heinous crime. I am giving the benefit of the doubt here and going along with the story that he was just an innocent victim, which I think even Mrs. Rafferty, in her heart of hearts must know doesn’t make sense. Regardless of who actually killed this poor sweet little child, both are guilty of murder. Your child is not innocent.
Secondly, why do you feel the need to say anything at all? Out of respect for the parents of this little girl you should stay in the background. You want to support your son, that’s fine, but you don’t have to make any public statements. You do not have to rub salt in their wounds. At least have the decency, respect and foresight to see what your words might do to this family. They have been through enough, at the hands of YOUR child. To make a statement making any reference to how YOUR family has been destroyed is revolting. Your child played a role in this little girls death, regardless of the level of the role. The impact to your family is meaningless in comparison to the actions of your child.
I made an attempt to look at this from a mothers perspective. What would I do if that were my child? Would I stand by their side? Would I believe whatever story he told me, no matter how implausible it seemed? I don’t think any of us can put ourselves in her position. I don’t think any of us want to put ourselves in her position. Am I being cold? Should she not be allowed her moment to grieve?
I am by no means disputing the fact that this woman has also suffered a tragedy. She has “lost” her son. She has to live with the fact that she is the mother of a monster. She will feel the impact of his crimes even though she had nothing to do with them. Yes, I think she should grieve for her child and for the unimaginable things he did. I just don’t think it’s appropriate to do so publicly. I think this mother needs to remember that her son made his choice. He chose to commit the acts that he committed or ignore them depending on the story you believe. I can’t speak for the events that occurred, that is up to a jury to decide. I can, however, say sit down Mrs. Rafferty and allow this family to mourn in peace.