written for Elsa Newman, as I think she might say it, if she had access to the internet
©2008, Aine O’Brocken
He was such perfection at the moment he was born. I knew I held someone special in my arms. I named him Herbert. Herbert Ian Newman Slobodow.
Herbie loved everyone and was afraid of no one. He would grow, I knew, to be like his grandfather—my father, who never came across a stranger—only friends he was meeting for the first time.
And, to my great delight, he bonded wonderfully with me. We delighted in each other.
Herbert would come to love the violin. By the time he was eight, his skill was extraordinary for a child that age. At one of his lessons, his teacher called the previous student back as the older boy was leaving—a high-school boy of no small skill himself—to look at Herbie’s bow hold. The child held the bow like an adult.
And he played—to use a trite expression—like an angel. As a child he had begun playing classical music. His concentration was superb. I have photos of him playing, his face displaying the peace and serenity of a mini-virtuouso who had found his calling. He was happy and content with himself and his instrument.
Here I must add that no ADD child, no ADHD child could play that way, play so well. I know this from violin teachers; I know it from violinists themselves. Playing the violin takes focus…love…dedication…and concentration. Herbie had them all, even at the age of seven. This thought is crucial to the question of ADD/ADHD—which Herbie’s father insists that he has. Herbie’s father sees to it that my son uses amphetamines to control a disease—which he doesn’t have. Strange behavior.
Herbie was a child deeply committed to kindness. When he was very young and in school, the teacher put his locker right next to the locker of a little girl with a hearing problem—because that teacher knew Herbie could be depended on to help her, without suggestions from adults.
The child Herbie loved life and loved living. He was a good boy, seldom needing discipline of any kind. And a part of his joy in life and loving was the joy of loving me—his mother. And I loved him in return with a love equaled only by my love for his younger brother, Lars.
Oh…the little-boy joys of climbing into a hollow tree and having your picture taken. Herbie is on the right, Lars on the left—or you might say, in a manner of speaking, Lars is extended from one side to the other.
Herbie and Lars both loved going to camp. When he was living with me, Herbie would come home from day camp dirty from the top of his head to the soles of his sandals. When he was living with his father, he came home as sparkling clean as when he had left in the morning, as if he were terrified of creating dirty clothes—or a less-than-squeaky-clean Herbert.
The clothes, of course, although possessing a distinctive potential to bring out his father’s wrath, were a personal problem for Herbie, since as I understand it, his father—although the boy was too short to reach the buttons at the back of the machine--made Herbie do the family laundry. “What do you do,” I once asked, “if you can’t reach the buttons?”
“I jump,” answered Herbie.
“But what if you miss?” I went on.
“Then Dad hits me,” replied my son, eyes downcast.
That last paragraph introduces a new element into my view of Herbie’s life. When Herbie was seven-ish and Lars five-ish, their father and I began the process of separation, divorce and custody decisions.
I wonder if any mother ever believes that the man she chooses to marry and father her children might molest and abuse those children.
I suppose not. I suppose every woman expects the man of her choice will be the ideal husband to her and ideal father for her children, should children be in the couple’s future.
I know the thought never entered my mind…not when I met Arlen Slobodow…not when I married him…not when I brought our two sons into the world.
And yet, when we filed divorce proceedings and the question of custody raised its head, a horror virtually beyond belief began for my sons and me.
When the disclosures first started, they were couched in such symbolic language that I failed to understand what the boys were trying to tell me. For just one example, Herbie, coming home from a visit to “Dad’s”, spoke of a snake there that bit him. Another example: teachers reported that Herbie, after a rain, walked the playground at school in search of worms—and then either ate or pretended to eat them, saying, “Mmmmm. These are really good.”
Only after the disclosures began in earnest and I began a written record, did I understand what was going on. The father I had chosen for my sons was molesting them sexually. And he was abusing them in every other way he could think of mentally, emotionally, physically, verbally and spiritually.
I should not have done so. The system failed me and my sons in every way. Herbie warned me: “Mom, you’ve got to do something! Dad is going to take us away from you.”
But I knew he was wrong. The American justice system could not possibly be so corrupt that it would order children into the custody of their abuser. Yet when the length and frequency of their father’s visits were increased by the court? Lo and behold, the frequency and seriousness of the disclosures likewise increased.
“Aha!” gloated the father’s attorney. “See? Elsa Newman is making this up, so that she will gain custody. It’s all made up! More visits, more complaints from the mother!”
Except I was not the one making the complaints. The victims of their father’s unspeakable abuses were speaking. And of course the more time they spent with him the more abuses there were to disclose. Duh!
Meanwhile, my sons struggled frantically to tell the truth and find someone besides me to believe them. I had taught them to tell the truth. They believed in the truth. They believed that if you told the truth, people would believe you.
They were wrong. And how far did their struggle go? Let me give you just one example. During an interrogation by law enforcement authorities in DC, the boys emerged, glowing—knowing they had held to the truth to the very end.
What that end was emerged only when, on the way home, the boys asked me, “Mom? What’s kids’ prison?”
The burly law officer who had questioned them had apparently informed them that if they refused to tell the truth—that is to say the version of “reality” he wanted to hear—they would be sent to “kids’ prison.”
Herbie found what he thought would be a solution. In conference with Lars, during an unguarded moment on the part of law enforcement, Herbie suggested that they should tell the officers that their dad was “neece.” They would not say “nice,” and thereby lie. They had too much integrity, even at such an early age. Rather they would pronounce dad “neece.”
So, at the end of this interrogation, the boys announced to law enforcement that their father was, indeed, a “neece” man. Law enforcement heard what they wanted to hear, which was “nice,” and released the boys for me to take them home.
Thus do children learn that telling the truth is a pointless activity.
For nearly a year, the boys were in treatment with a psychiatrist, who in fact, reported abuse early on. Nothing came of the report. The abuse continued. Now, although I have repeatedly asked Dr. Jill Scharff, that psychiatrist, to release the boys’ records to me, she refuses to do so.
Again, it is thus that children learn to devalue truth.
Herbie once asked me, “Why won’t the courts listen to me? I tell them what happened, and they won’t listen.” I had no explanation.
Thus do children learn to devalue themselves.
Remember the child who played the violin so beautifully? That was Herbie. He had had three different teachers. During visits to his father, he did not do well in the violin. At length, the third teacher called me, practically in tears. “Please,” she said, “don’t let his father bring him anymore. He was here today. He was dirty. He was unkempt. He was unprepared. He tried to play, but couldn’t do it.”
Herbie had an explanation as to why he did not do well when he was at dad’s. “When I try to play, he hits me in the crotch.”
Thus do children learn to devalue what they had once loved.
When the boys visited their father, they were often invited to the workroom in the basement for drawing sessions. They were made to draw according to their father’s instructions: nice pictures of dad; ugly, scrawled pictures of mom; nice pictures of the guardian ad litem; ugly pictures of mom’s attorneys.
Thus do children learn to despise where once they loved and bonded.
Their father would also practice correct speaking with them. There were many sessions like this one: “Who is nicer?” he would ask, “mom or dad?”
Herbie would answer, “You are both nice,” hoping to escape punishment.
Lars would answer, “You are, Dad.”
And Dad would say, “Lars has the right answer.”
Thus do children succumb to the forces of brainwashing, simple forces with a child lacking age and wisdom—no matter how great his integrity.
And then came the crime which sent me to prison, although I had neither foreknowledge of the event nor any form of participation in it.
A family friend, Margery Landry—godmother of my two sons, and called “Aunt Margie” by both of them—broke into Arlen Slobodow’s house on a night when he had visitation with the children. I was out of state to attend my niece’s wedding. Margery, she says, was hoping to find evidence of child abuse…of molestation…or of child pornography, which the children had disclosed that their father used them to make.
The events which followed, the struggled between “Aunt Margie” and the children’s father; the accidental shooting of their father, the subsequent 9-1-1 call, in which Arlen Slobodow virtually set up a case for the prosecution against me; the criminal trial in which I was convicted of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder [despite the fact that both these charges were null prossed against Margery Landry]; the appeals court reversal of the jury decision in the criminal trial; the retrial, so that Doug Gansler would not have a blemish on his record when he ran for state office, all of these things had a clear effect on both my sons.
Thus do children learn that the so-called “American justice system” is nothing but a fraud.
Thus do children come into the complete and terrifying control of a man who fathered them, but later said, “I don’t care if the kids grow up f***** up.”
Thus do children change. Thus has my older son has seemed to turn against me.
And thus, a woman I barely know has begun writing this story for me, hoping for publicity that will set me free from a prison I have not deserved—and will set my sons free from the prison of molestation and abuse their father has crafted for them.
December 25, 2008:
I dont need help im doing fine, this is just a blog my mom pays her to write so she can get out of jail
December 25, 2008:
… annie post a blog about why you choose to copy and paste stuff mom writes to you on the internet.
Thats right, this person is a payed writer for mom, these are the words of my crazy mom.
December 25, 2008…this is just a sick sellout my mom pays to write articles for her.
These bs blogs come from my mom who thinks lying about my dad will get her out of jail.
December 25, 2008:
… as for being a musician, i only knew 2 songs, twinkle twinkle little star and some other song, and i wasnt to good at them
Ann brocken is just moms hired writer and so all theese articles come from my mom …
December 20, 2008: Shut the fuck up and leave my dad aloneWhat about Washington dc, a bitch named anne cyber bullying, libel, and slander
December 20, 2008: i love you Katherine WinfreeMom go to hell Kathrine Winfree helped me get a way from a lyng manipulative bitch who calls herself mom
December 20, 2008 herbie has left a new comment on your post
December 20, 2008 herbie has left a new comment on your post "AN OPEN LETTER TO DOUG GANFREE: AG OF MARYLAND--AN...":
you people are discusting, stalking dads friends now???Now that im telling the truth all you want to do lately is discredit me and insult me, but doesnt bother me coming from a psychopathic sexist working for a manipulative insane bitch with a nasty hole i escaped from. And dont lie about your self, your not little, you fat hell!your not working for anyone but yourself and mom. Your in no way shape or form a reporter, just a hired blogger And your one sick shit … look at what your writing!Its fucking discusting You know none of that shit exists
December 20, 2008 herbisism has left a new comment on your post
December 19, 2008
"I BELIEVE YOU, ELSA NEWMAN! YES, I DO! (updated)": …because she pays you to write this shit
December 19, 2008
herbie has left a new comment on your post: Mom your fucking discusting
December 19, 2008
herbie has left a new comment on your post "NAZI FASCISM IN THE US?": This woman is …some one my mom hired to lie about my dad, why?because all she cares about is herself and getting out of prisonAnd just incase you didnt notice...my dad is jewish and so am i, …
December 19, 2008
herbie has left a new comment on your post: … my mom is …fucking crazy …
December 19, 2008
herbie has left a new comment on your post "ASHAN--ARE YOU TRYING TO "BLOW SMOKE" ON PRESENT R...": Shut the fuck up mom… you are a crazy bitch and you need some help, but your to crazy to get it, yeah make theese bullshit blogs
December 19, 2008
herbert slobodow has left a new comment on your post: Mom, thats it, final straw, when i confront you on the phone about this, you ignore me and scream at me. Im pretty sure all you do is write these in prison in order to try to justify the way you treated me mom. Making me lie about my own father is a pretty fucked up thing to do.Having your best friend shoot my dad is manipulating your own friends and attempting to kill an innocent man for your own greed.You wanted to be rich, you wanted his money, his house, his children, and then... his life.God stepped in, and in pure luck, she missed a sleeping man, and hit his leg, he managed to fight her off with a shot leg.And what do you do then? you turn on your best friend and say its her fault.Then you have your mom steal from her grandchildren, because she doesnt want to spend her millions of dollers on her own daughter.I got that money back in my collage account, lol another fail for you.So what do you do, isolated in your cell?You hire some one to lie about my dad me and the trial just to prove your innocence.Your not my fucking mother, just a nasty place i crawled out of, thats all you are to me now mom. And real jews dont mention gods name
December 19, 2008
herb bert has left a new comment on your post: She doesnt fucking own me, get that in your head, mom means i came from her, not are owned by her.I find it highly pathetic to make a blog lieng about your self, and have somebody else post it.Mom doesnt stand shit,she acts like a 5 year lies about other people to make it look like its their fault, and sends you to blog about it.
What happened to my little boy? What happened to my son? What happened to the little boy who loved his mother and loved life and loved his brother and loved the violin.
His father happened to him. I suspect that’s what.
Stockholm Syndrome perhaps?
Or just that a molested child sees that a father is strong, because he can get away with whatever, while the mother who tried to protect her children failed. Is my son becoming his father?
I don’t know. All I want to know is what happened to the little boy who loved me. Where did he go?