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I am a retired child sexual abuse worker for the State of Maryland. Elsa Newman is a good friend. I've been to her charming home and met her children. I know they had a warm and enriching life with her. I was aghast that my report to county social services of sexual and physical abuse was ignored. Six weeks later and after a call from U.S. Representative Connie Morella, a case file was opened. Two weeks later the father (subject of the complaint) brought the children for interviews. Although they disclosed specific abuse, he still took them home. The price of their honesty is still being paid today. I attended both the trials and I spoke to Elsa's family and her lawyers. For the past eight years I have visited her in prison and during the year in between trials when she was out. We have spoken on the phone frequently.
In speaking up for her children, Elsa made enemies. She was charged as a conspirator of one when her ex was assaulted as he lay in bed undressed with the younger child. The culprit , Margery Landry, a godmother to the children, was given an assault charge and testified Elsa had no role. After two trials, the battle for Elsa's innocence has not ended. She is the victim of an over zealous prosecutor fueled by pirate divorce lawyers and woeful county social services who have hidden the truth. .
Her supporters include judges, professors, lawyers, social workers, psychologists, medical doctors, educators, religious leaders, authors, and filmmakers, many prominent in the child abuse field.
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We, the undersigned, respectfully petition the Governor of the State of Maryland and the Maryland Legislature to proceed immediately to release Elsa Newman from custody of the Department of Corrections. The grounds for this petition are that Elsa Newman is innocent of any crime and that she was placed in prison intentionally to silence her about the child abuse while the real perpetrator has never been charged. The wrongful prosecution of Elsa was the direct result of cross-pollution among the prosecutor, Elsa's ex, his divorce attorney, her former divorce attorney, and the court-appointed divorce lawyer for the children.
Injustice 1: There was nothing to connect Elsa to the crime:
* Nine search warrants on her home, her car and her person elicited nothing. The police expert testified DNA evidence would have shown up if Elsa had so much as breathed on anything from the crime scene.
* Examination of tens of 1000s of documents and emails turned up nothing, every desk paper, every post-it note, every phone call. There was nothing incriminating.
* Police testified that on Elsa's desk was found a copy of Maryland child safety laws with a lot of high lighting in it.
Injustice 2: Lacking evidence, the prosecution twisted innocent facts:
* The prosecution tried to say that a flight number Elsa wrote on a post-it note indicated she intended to flee with the children. Her lawyers got the manifest. Her name was not listed. Turned out the flight number was Dr. Garb's flight, the expert who flew in for the civil case. Elsa met him at the airport.
* The culprit paid bills because Elsa's ex refused to pay support as he was ordered and Elsa was unable to work fulltime. This would show that Landry was interfering and overbearing, not Elsa's pawn as the prosecution claimed. Elsa's family reimbursed Landry. The state tried to exploit the repayment.
* Numerous innocent facts were twisted like this. Elsa's innocuous friendship with Landry was twisted into a Rasputin arrangement that was lesbian.
* The prosecution told the jury that Elsa made up the child abuse complaints.
* All evidence of sexual abuse including examinations and hours of interviews with the children, which Dr. Eli Newberger said were highly credible, was never allowed in court. Dr. Newberger wanted to testify about the substandard child abuse investigations and that the kids had been beaten and molested.
* Although it is well known that child abuse is easily hidden and commonly missed by social workers and police, Elsa's prosecutors distorted the closed child abuse investigations to pretend Elsa's children were not abused and to discredit Elsa.
* During the divorce, Dr. Jill Scharff, a leading child psychiatrist who treated the children, telephoned the court evaluator, Susan Ward, Dr. Copeland, who re-evaluated the family, and the Court-appointed attorney for the children, Alan Town. She told them the father abused the children. The children told Susan Ward, Dr. Copeland, and the court appointed-lawyer for the children (and many others) about their father's abuse. According to school logs and social worker records, the children's hands had to be pried off desks and railings to force them to go with their father. Dr. Scharff wrote three reports describing the children's abuse. She too reported abuse. Her records are still sealed. The same bunch who successfully put Elsa in prison intimidated Dr. Scharff.
* In a letter to Susan Ward where Dr. Scharff wrote that Elsa is an excellent mother she referenced her abuse reports against the father.
Injustice 3: Once the child abuse was "disappeared", Arlen Slobodow's act as the injured victim was unquestioned.
* Elsa's ex presented himself as a maligned, injured spouse and made Elsa out to be the pathological liar.
* Among other records "disappeared", were several previous assault charges; a $10,000 loan from Landry that Slobodow never repaid; pension funds he took belonging to colleagues; documentary ideas and video awards, also belonging to colleagues, which he claimed as his; another assault charge, this time against Landry when she brought milk to the home; a description of him as master manipulator of publicity in Covert Cadre by S. Steven Powell; Elsa's successive protective orders, and a determination by Dr. Newberger and other experts that Slobodow is a sadistic pedophile.
* The trial showed a 45 minute lapse between when the crime occurred and when Slobodow called 911. The police found him several flights away from the crime scene under his computer table pulling out wires.
* There was no blood on his clothing and no singed hole, indicating he was not wearing anything when assaulted.
Injustice 4: when Elsa complained to the divorce judge about her divorce lawyer's billing practices and poor representation, he retaliated with testimony she discussed a crime while paying $265 per hour for his advice. Although his testimony was thrown out on appeal, his legal secretary, Ashley (who worked for Slobodow's attorney's father) was still allowed to revise hers as needed. For Elsa, attorney client privilege did not apply.
Other significant points:
* Elsa's lawyer experienced the unfortunate death of his mother the day before the second trial. He went to trial anyway, distracted and evoking in others a sense that motherhood is not due great respect.
* The jury deliberated over three days with many questions for the judge and shouting was heard from the jury room. Many thought there would have been a hung jury except that Elsa's lawyer charged them to reach a verdict late Friday before a holiday weekend.
* Many people feel there was double jeopardy because Maryland's highest court ruled there was insufficient evidence to convict Elsa and the prosecutor planned a second trial with the same insufficient evidence. Perhaps using the legal secretary's testimony, despite its privileged nature, filled a gap.
* Elsa and the children telephoned and wrote the court-appointed lawyer for the children many times. His own billing records show he spent 90% of his time with the father. He never interviewed the children and never answered their calls or letters.
* Landry wrote two letters to the judge and testified under oath that Elsa was not involved. Landry testified that she acted on an impulse when she went upstairs to the bedrooms and found the father undressed in bed with the child.
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