Friday, July 17, 2009



Elsa Newman sees her sons twice yearly, by court order. Their father testified against their mother. His testimony, despite the fact that it was composed of smiling, bald-faced lies and a sociopathic bent, apparently was a huge factor in sending their mother to prison for a crime which she had not committed. The crime, in fact, did not even exist. She was accused of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

In the first place there was no murder attempt--there was only an attempt by a family friend to search for evidence of the molestation the boys had disclosed. True, this search ended with shots being fired. Why? Because Margery Landry found Slobodow, nearly naked, in bed with his younger son, who was completely naked. Apparently Landry found Slobodow in the process of molesting the child. When she tried to pull him off the boy, Slobodow attacked her, knocked her to the floor, and tried to turn her gun and its two whole bullets on Landry. When the gun went off, one bullet struck Slobodow in the thigh.

In the second place, there was no conspiracy. Margery Landry acted on her own and undertook the search on her own initiative--while Newman was out of the state--and despite the fact that Newman had told Landry to keep away from Slobodow and the boys.

Thus it is that Elsa Newman sees her sons only twice a year. She is unjustly imprisoned at Maryland's Correctional Institution for Women at Jessup. Technically, she was given a life sentence for these two non-existent crimes. All but 20 years, however, were suspended.

With that background, I come to my list of why and how questions:

1. During divorce proceedings, and when Newman's elder son was still a small boy, Newman discovered a tiny toy clutched in one sweaty palm when his father returned him from a visit. Why did the boy look at her, terrified, as if begging her not to mention what she had noticed? Why such fear? It was a toy his mother had given him, and he could not afford to have his father know that he had been carrying it--perhaps during the entire length of the visit. I have wondered if he carried it, perhaps, as some kind of charm to ward off his father's sexual assaults?

2. Another time Newman found this same son wearing two t-shirts. When she started to ask about that, the same look of terror appeared. The second t-shirt, under the one his father could see, was an old, worn and cherished shirt his mother had given him. He dared not allow his father to know how he loved it. Was there, perhaps, a huge price to pay for loving a gift from his mother.

3. When their father picked them up for a visit with him, the boys would sometimes cling to furniture and scream and beg not to have to go. They were more than frightened of visits with their father...they were terrified. At that time, they preferred their mother--who tried to protect them--to their father, from whom they so desperately needed protection, considering the unspeakable sexual, physical and other abuses he heaped upon them.

4. Both boys, when very young, obviously loved and respected their mother. Don't these examples--only three of many I have at hand--demonstrate their deep love for their mother and their preference for her? Do they not also demonstrate a deep-seated fear of their father?

5. Why, when these boys have not lived with their mother for over five years, has the elder one now apparently turned against her?

6. Why does the older boy write filth and vulgarity when he writes to me about his mother? Is the father forcing him to write like that? Is he writing like that in order to get on his father's good side? Is he afraid? Perhaps even for his life?

7. Newman is seldom permitted to talk to her younger son. When she calls, she usually hears, "He's visiting friends." Why isn't she allowed to talk to him?

8. In a recent call, when she was finally allowed to speak briefly with the younger boy, he virtually whispered into the phone, "I love you, Mom." Why did he have to whisper?

9. In that same call and in that same whisper, Newman's younger son added, "[My brother] loves you, too." The abusive father is permitted by the courts to monitor all phone calls. Was the boy hoping he could keep his father from hearing? Was he trying to save himself from abuse at the hands of a father psychiatrists have called "a sadist"?

9. When the boys visit their mother in prison, why is the younger son friendly and wanting to touch his mother on their first day of their visit...and yet on the second day, he seems distant and afraid to get too close to her?

10. When the boys make their semi-annual trek to Maryland to visit their mother, why does their father cut the visits short? When you only have eight hours a year to see your sons in person, why would any decent human being leave before the time was up?

10. Why doesn't any of this add up? When they were younger, both boys loved Newman and preferred being with her to being with their father. But now that they haven't lived with her for years, have lived, instead, in their father's house his physical custody and under threat of his constant abuse, at least one of them has learned to spout crude, vile and vulgar messages about his mother and has even declared, "Until this is over, I don't have a mother."

They both loved her, but now, living with their father, one of them says, "She's crazy," and the other is mostly not allowed to talk to her.

They both loved her, but now, under their father's influence, the older boy--or someone pretending to be him--started a petition on Care2, stating that his mother is mentally unbalanced and should not be allowed out of prison. He even got a few signers--very few--before someone shut the petition down.

They both loved her. So why has at least one of them seemed to turn against her?

Gotta say it again: it simply doesn't add up.

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