Judge Eaglestone


11 May 2012

Your sentencing decision today concerning Helen Gavaghan and her flight with her daughter Pearl Gavaghan Da Massa is utterly and contemptibly deplorable. As a pastor, I am fully persuaded that Pearl was, and likely continues to be, sexually molested repeatedly by her biological father Henry Da Massa. Your heavy-handed, ill considered, merciless, anti-children and mother ruling is precisely the reason why a woman like Helen needs to run in the first place. What you have done will very likely mean continued sexual abuse for Pearl and also carries forth the sordid judicial tradition that makes mothers, children, and their advocates despise and distrust the judicial system for which you work. My name is Doug Johnson Hatlem, and I am a street pastor with the Mennonite Central Committee Ontario. My day to day work involves pastoral care for and advocacy around homeless and marginalized individuals here in Toronto. Three years ago I met Pearl and her mother in my neighbourhood. I did not meet Helen or Pearl or work with them through the course of my day-to-day work, and so I am not sending this letter on organizational letterhead. My superiors are, however, well aware of and supportive of my efforts in this situation. I have decades of experience in these matters, spoke directly with Helen about the reasons for running with Pearl, have read her writings on these matters carefully, and also spoke by phone with Helen's father, Pearl's maternal grandfather. Michael Gavaghan simply and directly confirmed and recounted what Helen has claimed regarding the fact that he was present when Pearl was two years old and began to tell about the things that Henry was doing to her sexually. In the first instance, Pearl said, “Grandad, do you want to touch my botty.” (Botty is the name Pearl was using for her bottom at the time.) Michael Gavaghan told me that he responded, “Why ever would I want to do that?” To this, Pearl responded, “Daddy puts his finger in my botty.” I asked Mr. Gavaghan about his subsequent response. He spoke with Helen, who was nearby, immediately, encouraging her to bring this matter to the ongoing court situation. Mr. Gavaghan is straightforward but not pushy, old enough to be slightly hard of hearing. I asked him whether he had spoken to the police concerning these things. His response was that it took a very long time before the police came to interview him about these matters. When they did come, two plainclothes officers questioned him for an hour regarding physical abuse of Helen only, nothing regarding Pearl. He said they were not interested in hearing from him regarding Pearl and that he felt the Court and police were “pooh poohing” the allegations of abuse of Pearl. Some people have suggested to me that, with all the media attention, Mr. Da Massa is probably too aware of being watched to pursue any further abuse. In

my view, the absolute contrary is the case. My personal conversations with Helen and her writings, strongly suggest a man who derives great sexual pleasure out of situations involving peril and vulnerability. Our regular interactions with Henry as a community here in Toronto further convince me that he is an initially charming, but highly abusive man who will go to any length to satisfy his desires. Two very long serving lawyers were stalked, threatened, or abused by Mr. Da Massa for their work on this case to the point where the lead police officer on Pearl's case, Detective Rick Mooney, suggested that one of them ought to file harassment charges against Mr. Da Massa. It is simply unbelievable to me that your judicial system can continue to fail so badly in this day and age, in this period of time where we know full-well not only how very very damaging such abuse can be, but also know that systems of power legal and ecclesial have badly failed children and protected abusers. Your unmitigated lack of concern for the most vulnerable among us will not go unresisted. You can expect to hear from me and from every friend, reporter, politician, and activists whose ear I can bend. It is a disgrace to the grand tradition of justice in the supposedly civilized world that a woman with such an evident heart of stone is given allowance to bring the full weight of the law down upon the backs of young, vulnerable girls and their mums. With Disgust,

Doug Johnson Hatlem

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