Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Although I originally dedicated this blog to questions about the Elsa Newman case, my thought today is to share some of the answers I've come up with, my reasons for my deep and abiding belief in this woman. Thus, without further ado, let us proceed.


I must introduce myself as a rather obnoxious little-old-lady-type person, a retired teacher, who became interested in the Elsa Newman case and in Elsa's claims about the abuse of her sons.

My interest began with the fact that I am the full-time caregiver for a delightful Jewish artist who describes herself as "ably disabled.” My artist client sent for a list of pen pals from among Jewish people who are in prison. After some time, I also wrote for pen pals, and thus came across the name of Elsa Newman.

I have since begun to research Elsa's story and her concerns for her sons, and I find myself greatly dismayed by the facts my research has revealed.

Elsa Newman was twice convicted of conspiracy to commit murder. The charges resulted from the actions of family friend, Margery Landry, who broke into the house of Elsa’s ex-husband. During the break-in, Margery was carrying a gun and had either taken child pornography with her, intending to plant it or was in search of child pornography as evidence—depending on which newspaper you read. Elsa’s ex-husband woke and struggled with Landry, and the gun when off. He was shot in the thigh. After considerable turmoil, he managed to get to a phone and call 9-1-1. Landry fled.

Elsa Newman remains firm about two things: 1) she was in no way involved in the incident created by Landry, and 2) her ex-husband is a pedophile who molests her two sons sexually, as well as abusing them physically, mentally and emotionally.

1. I am convinced that Elsa Newman is either totally delusional, or she is right. And I have not the slightest reason to suspect any delusion on her part. In short, I believe what she tells me. I am not alone.

2. There are many others who agree with me. There is even a small group of people who contact each other on the net and call themselves, I believe, “Friends of Elsa Newman.”

3. As an added note, and to give one reason among many why I accept Elsa's claims, I offer a brief review of the recent Castillo Case in Maryland . You've heard of this one; the one where the estranged husband was allowed unsupervised visits with his children, despite the pleas of Amy Castillo, their mother, begging the judge not to allow unsupervised visits, because she believed the father to be a serious threat to the children. The thing that many people don't know is that this family-court matter occurred in the same state as Elsa's...in the same county...in the same courtroom...and with the both the same judge and the same psychologist.

Soooo…the same judge and psychologist that sent Amy Castillo's children to death by drowning at the hands of their father--despite Mrs. Castillo's pleading--placed Elsa's sons in the custody of a father accused of abuse--despite Elsa's pleading.

4. I believe Elsa because noted authorities in the field of child abuse believe her. For one example, consider Michelle Etlin, co-author of the book, The Hostage Child? One of the things she told Elsa was that she believed her, believed every word she was saying. Me, too.

5. I believe Elsa because I have spoken to her several times on the phone. The things she says resonate truth, as does her voice when she speaks or her letters when she writes to me.

6. I believe Elsa because of the depth and detail of what she says her children disclosed to her; I don't think anybody could invent all that garbage.

7. I believe Elsa because, even from where I sit on the opposite side of this country [I live in Washington State, which is about as far as you can get from either Maryland or Florida, where the boys live now—in the custody of the alleged pedophile.], I can see holes in the prosecution argument in her criminal trials.

· For just one example, the father of the boys called 9-1-1 and reported that his wife had sent someone to try to kill him. But even if that were true, it is impossible for him to have known it--and I don't believe it is true.

· And then there is the matter of the slide show: During Elsa Newman’s original trial, the prosecution, in the form of Katherine Winfree, presented a slide show—slides of the crime scene. I understand that one of those slides showed some paraphernalia that appeared to be a collection of some sort of “sex tools” or “sex toys.” No one mentioned that.

· Another slide showed a little boy’s shoes and socks, clearly visible and recognizable—beside or under the bed. I cannot place them more precisely than that, although Elsa probably could. Elsa had been leaning forward in her chair all during the slide show. It was, she says, her first opportunity to see exactly what had happened and the details about what she was accused of, and thus she was quite interested. When the slide with the shoes and socks appeared, Elsa gasped audibly, realizing fully whose they were: they belonged to her younger son. The father informed authorities that the boy had come to his bed because he could not sleep. However, later testimony in the trial stated that the boy’s bed had not been slept in. I cannot escape this question: what in the world were a little boy’s shoes and socks doing beside a bed where he slept naked and his father slept, naked from the waist down.

Katherine Winfree, as she showed that slide of those little shoes and socks, apparently heard Elsa’s gasp of shock and dismay. Winfree turned and stared at Elsa long and hard. Dare I presume that Winfree realized in that moment the significance of the shoes and socks? Dare I presume that she knew then that the allegations against Elsa’s ex-husband were true? Dare I presume that she knew, and that she then went on with her prosecution, caring nothing for the fate of those two then-very-young children?

It is noteworthy in this regard that during the second trial, Winfree did not use those slides of the crime scene at all. She presented instead a series of slides that focused on Elsa’s ex-husband in his hospital bed after the shooting. Pretty safe, I guess. No sex toys. No little shoes and socks.

8. I believe Elsa because there were, according to my understanding, no bullet holes in the father’s pajama bottoms—although he was shot twice in the leg, and those pajama bottoms were covered with blood.

9. I believe Elsa because I tend to view our American justice system as a system which presents organized debates in a courtroom setting, and the best debater, as decided by judge or jury, is the winner. According to Doug Gansler, now attorney general of the state of Maryland, Katherine Winfree, now his chief deputy, is a better prosecutor than even he is.

10. I believe Elsa because disbelief--once I contacted Elsa and heard her story—became too frightening. If this kind of disastrous contact with the legal system, followed by Elsa’s subsequent imprisonment and her children’s subjection to the care of an alleged pedophile, could happen in Maryland and happen to Elsa Newman and her children, it could happen anywhere, and to any of us.

11. I believe Elsa because fathers’ rights advocates have created a pendulum swing within the American judicial system, and that swing has been away from a mother’s rights. Yes, Michelle Etlin and her co-author wrote of the horrors women face in family court. But at the same time, there were no less than fourteen books written by fathers’ rights advocates. They said the exact opposite of what Etlin and her co-author documented in The Hostage Child. And they had more money. One of their authors sent a free copy of his book to every congress-person and every family court judge in this country.

12. I believe Elsa because of the interrogation of her two children by police officers. Let me say here, quite plainly, that as an attorney who believed the American system of justice was sure to help her and her two sons, Elsa was far more than a little naïve. She was a lot naïve.

While Elsa waited for her sons in a place apart from the interrogation room, the boys were grilled literally for hours, about their disclosures to their mother. They were held in that room for so long that Elsa’s younger son—too frightened to ask permission to use a bathroom—emptied his bowels into his underwear. Shortly after that, he was apparently escorted to a different room to wait for his mother. Probably smelled bad enough that the interrogating officer didn’t want to put up with the odor.

After many hours—I believe it was over six hours—the interrogating police officer emerged, triumphant and absolutely beaming, from the interrogation room, followed by Elsa’s older son, who had gone completely white in the face. “H***** has made a disclosure,” the officer announced. Elsa looked at her and wondered why she was so happy if the boy had, indeed, made a disclosure of abuse. “Tell her,” said the officer to H*****.

White-faced, obviously anguished, the boy blurted, “I made it all up, Mom,” and hung his head.

Elsa was left to claim her younger son, clean him up as best she could in a restroom, take the two boys home and try to restore some degree of their faith in themselves and what they knew to be true.

13. I believe Elsa because of the testimony of the psychologist who testified against her. He tried to say that Elsa had or was close to a borderline personality. The truth is that his testing showed Elsa well within the normal range, although a touch defensive, as well befits a mother battling for her children’s rights, for their custody--and perhaps even their lives. Tests by the same psychologist showed that her ex-husband fell outside that normal range. So what did the psychologist do? He threw out the test results and based his opinion on interviews with the two adults involved—Elsa and her ex-husband. In that psychologist’s opinion, when Elsa stated to him that she “hated” her husband (Well, duh…what mother wouldn’t hate someone who was sexually abusing her kids?) she was exhibiting behavior outside the normal range. And on the basis of his interview with the ex-husband? The psychologist stated that the man was clearly normal.

14. I believe Elsa because—even though the evidence would not have been admissible in court-- Elsa volunteered to take a lie detector test. Nobody took her up on the offer.

15. I believe Elsa because her conviction in the original trial was vacated by Maryland’s highest court, which said there was no evidence of her involvement in Margery Landry’s break-in and the shooting of Elsa’s ex-husband.

16. I believe Elsa because a major part of the prosecution case was apparently the testimony of her one-time attorney. What happened to attorney-client privilege?

17. I believe Elsa because the testimony of her ex-husband also seems to have made up a large part of the prosecution case. Talked about “vested interest!”

18. I believe Elsa because two noted Maryland attorneys wrote a letter to the judge who was to pass sentence on Elsa, saying, “We have serious doubts regarding the guilt of Ms. Newman.”

19. I believe Elsa because those same two attorneys went on to point out that the alleged “death threat” that Elsa had supposedly made to [name withheld—legal assistant in the office of Mr. Friedman, who was Elsa’s former attorney and had testified against her in the original trial] was made some 13 months before the ‘event’ took place,” in other words, 13 months before Margery Landry broke into the home of Elsa’s ex-husband and found him in bed with his younger son. That would make it several years before the woman actually sat in a witness chair and testified.

20. I believe Elsa because the alleged “death threat” was stated during a bitter divorce and custody battle. In other words, even if she said that—which is clearly in some doubt—the words were never meant in the context presented by the prosecution.

21. I believe Elsa because I understand that the jury foreman in her second trial stated that he knew before the trial ever began that Elsa was guilty. This was apparently reported to authorities—and ignored.

22. I believe Elsa because Margery Landry, the woman who pled guilty to the crime Elsa was accused of conspiring to commit, refused to testify against Elsa, even though Landry was more than once offered a major reduction in her own sentence in exchange for such testimony. She rejected the offer, insisting that Elsa was not involved.

23. I believe Elsa because of the attitude of the then-state’s attorney for Montgomery County concerning her case. For example, when Maryland’s highest court vacated the decision in Elsa’s first trial, the media reported that Doug Gansler said, “They just released the woman who wanted to kill her kids.” In this and similar statements lies the opinion of the prosecutor’s office and seemingly of deputy prosecutor Kate Winfree, as well. Blessed are those who search for truth and thus learn the truth, for the truth shall make them free. Not in Montgomery County Maryland, I guess. Said prosecutor’s office appears to have been far more interested in conviction at any cost than in a search for truth.

24. I believe Elsa because a timeline I have prepared shows that Doug Gansler planned well in advance his run for state office. We have evidence of this at least as early as the summer of 2002, when Gansler is reported in the media as having driven to Annapolis and arrived there at 8:45 p.m., just before filing for office ended—in case the current Democratic AG had withdrawn his re-election bid. He was allowing himself time, you see, so that just in case the AG had decided not to run, he (Gansler) would be just in time to file.

The timeline shows, of course, that Gansler actually did file in 2006, when the then AG decided to retire.

Elsa’s second trial opened on Tuesday, September 27, 2005. It seems likely, then, that by the time of this trial, Doug Gansler was at least hoping he would be running for state office in 2006, whether or not he actually knew he would have that opportunity. It certainly would not do for a man with such ambitions to allow the release of a mother prosecuted by his office for supposedly heinous crimes.

For the sake of Gansler’s political hopes, he had to send the case back to court, again in the hands of Katherine Winfree. And his office had to win the verdict.

25. I believe Elsa because there are so many others like her. When I first read statements that there are thousands of women in the same position as Elsa, I nodded my head in vigorous assent, but somewhere down inside, I wondered. It could not possibly be, could it?

It could. It is. I have read many for myself, both in Michelle Etlin’s book and on the net. There are, indeed, thousands of women in this country trying to protect their children from abuse of all kinds. And they are being prosecuted. Try this one on for size, if you doubt me: http://courtordereddeathbyaids.blogspot.com/2007/12/court-ordered-death-by-aids.html

25. I believe Elsa precisely because of the arguments of Winfree in court. She stated that Elsa is a “domineering personality” who pushed Landry around. Where did that assessment come from?

It’s hogwash!

That is not the Elsa Newman I have come to know. That is not the Elsa Newman spoken of by her friends, some of whom refer to her as “gentle” or “calm” or “patient.” In the words of a teacher at the prison, “Ms. Newman has consistently displayed a calm, patient, helpful and cooperative demeanor, even in the face of occasionally hostile and verbally abusive staff or inmates. She is thoughtful and deeply spiritual….”

26. I believe Elsa because I seriously question the ethics of a prosecuting attorney, Katherine Winfree, who, upon hearing that child abuse allegations had been raised in the state of Florida, where Elsa’s ex-husband had moved with Elsa’s sons, would place a phone call to Florida authorities…would lie to them, saying that similar allegations had been made in Maryland and discovered to be without foundation…and would assure Florida authorities that there was thus no need for them to continue their investigation.

27. Finally, I believe Elsa for another, more personal reason. I am a two-time loser to people who drive while intoxicated. When I was just a child—3rd or 4th grade—my grandmother, in the passenger seat while my grandfather drove, was put through a windshield and killed in a collision with the car of a drunk driver on the wrong side of the road. Years later, my younger sister, a college student who took off her seat belt to sit closer to her boy friend, was put through another windshield by another man who had been drinking and passed on a blind curve. You see, do you not, why I have little respect for anyone who drives under the influence of alcohol or any other drug? You see, do you not, why I tend not to trust such an individual?

About 11:55 p.m. on the 11th of December, in 2002, Katherine Winfree, then the principal deputy state’s attorney for Montgomery County, was arrested and charged with 1) driving under the influence, 2) driving while impaired, and 3) driving an unsafe vehicle (her county-issued car had a flat tire). God only knows how many times Winfree may have been in a similar state behind the wheel. I would guess that one has to indulge in drunk driving more than once in order to be caught and arrested just once.

And that’s all I care to say about that.

In conclusion, I must admit that the longer I work on this paper, the more reasons demand my attention. Thus I believe Elsa Newman.

1 comment:

Ashan said...

I just felt compelled to write this even though I don't want to get involved in this sordid affair.

From what I see here, you actually never met Elsa Newman.
Well, I knew Elsa for many years - from the time we were about 8 years old. The last time I saw her was around 1979, in our late 20s.

Elsa was a thoroughly manipulative, egocentric, jealous, psychotic, vindictive, vengeful, conniving and compulsive child and young adult. Her parents and mine were friends over the years, which unfortunately threw us together far too many times. I used to dread having to tolerate her fits of rage, verbal abuse and general nastiness. I used to beg my mother to leave me at home alone rather than have to put up with her for hours.

My final contact with her in 1979 was as horrendous an experience as any when I was younger. She tried very hard to demean me in front of others (who she also verbally abused). I kept my dignity, as did the others around the dining table.

Everything the psychologists said about her in the wake of her crime was right on the mark.

I completely sympathize with Elsa's ex-husband. Those poor children were exposed to a true mother-from-hell, if you could call her a "mother". I firmly believe that she should pay for everything, and that would not be enough for what she put them through.

It's a pity that you believe that lies can be proven to be the truth. Elsa Newman's two boys are in the excellent, caring hands of their father.