Soldier’s Little Girl Wants Her Daddy Back

Precious Paige wants her daddy home.

Precious Paige wants her daddy home. Image by: Abby Bennethum

NBC Philadelphia reports on the little girl who didn’t want to let her father go back to war.

“A family photo that shows a little girl beside her father and his fellow soldiers in uniform as they prepare to go to war has resonated well beyond the tight knit Bennethum clan.

Four-year-old Paige Bennethum really, really didn’t want her daddy to go to Iraq. So much so, that when Army Reservist Staff Sgt. Brett Bennethum lined up in formation at his deployment this July, she couldn’t let go.

No one had the heart to pull her away”

This little girl is not alone, and yet her story has put an iconic image to the painful goodbyes that are one of the costs of the continued wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This truly is a heartbreaking story.  I think we can all feel a sense of solidarity with young Paige Bennethum, no matter our views on the war. I hope her father does make it back safely, and I hope for the safety of the fathers of little girls just like Paige in Iraq and Afghanistan. The insanity of war, will continue to make victims of the most innocent of us, until we stop participating in it’s madness.

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Child Psychiatrist Is A Child Rapist, Keeps License

Dallas News reports that Dr. William Olmsted pleaded no-contest to charges of child molestation, and is still able to practice as a psychiatrist:

Editorial: Sex offender should not hold medical license

04:57 PM CDT on Monday, September 14, 2009

Few yardsticks in life are better than the headline test. Try it on this one: “Sex offender keeps license to practice psychiatry.”

It gets worse, as in: “Doctor’s offense involved a 10-year-old neighbor.”

To say that something is out of whack in state law is an understatement. The case involves Dr. William Olmsted, a child psychiatrist who pleaded no contest to a molestation charge in Dallas County but was able to skate past the State Medical Board with his license intact, albeit with restrictions.

Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, has vowed to look into the matter, and we’re encouraged that he will. Those who have a state license to treat people at their most vulnerable must be beyond reproach. Those listed on the state’s sex-offender registry could not fit into that category.

State law should be tightened up so future Olmsted-like cases don’t fall between the cracks of separate state codes governing criminal, licensing and administrative law. By the time the State Medical Board got the Olmsted matter, it was six years old and involved a sentence of deferred adjudication – probation, essentially.

The age of the case and absence of a guilty verdict did not permit the board to immediately suspend Olmsted’s license. Pursuing revocation could have involved proceedings lasting as long as two years before a separate state hearing agency, and all the while the doctor could have continued to practice as a child psychiatrist.

The deal cut with Olmsted involves treatment and a fine, but it let him keep his medical license with the restriction that he treats only adult males in group or institutional settings. The fact that he has any kind of professional license at all leaves us aghast, but not nearly to the level as the psychiatrist’s victim and her family.

Changes in state law might seek to insert deferred adjudication as a license-suspension trigger, or cases involving sex offenses may need to be expedited through the hearing process. We’ll watch Carona’s conclusions with interest as he looks for ways to bring sense to the licensing process.

The spirit of his inquiry ought to be driven by the determination to hold state-licensed physicians to the highest standard in Texas.


An earlier press released from the Citizens Commission On Human Rights, a mental health watchdog group, includes this dramatic statement:

“A 1998 review of U.S. medical board actions against 761 physicians disciplined for sex-related offenses found that while psychiatrists and child psychiatrists account for only 6% of physicians in the country, they comprised 28% of perpetrators disciplined for sex-related offenses.”

Question for readers:

Do you believe a psychiatrist already convicted of sexual abuse should be allowed to retain their license and continue to practice?

Also see Child Psychiatrist Is A Child Rapist, Keeps License on Open Salon for more comments.

Vodpod videos no longer available. Texas execute an innocent man?

Recently I blogged about David Grann’s article in The New Yorker about Todd Willingham.I highly recommend you read his article, but if you’re not the “reading type”, check out this interview where he does a masterful job of describing the basics of the case and why it’s an issue that should matter to all of us.

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more about “ Texas execute an innoce…“, posted with vodpod

Trial By Fire

David Grann of the New Yorker, has written a disturbing and vindicating article about Todd Willingham, a man who saw his reputation and his life literally destroyed by the state.

It’s a lengthy piece, but definitely worth pursuing.  For those of you who are interested in seeing yet another example of why this shameful system needs to be reformed, or are simply in the mood to read a compelling true story, look no further.

Here is a brief excerpt:

LaFayette Collins, who was a member of the board at the time, told me of the process, “You don’t vote guilt or innocence. You don’t retry the trial. You just make sure everything is in order and there are no glaring errors.” He noted that although the rules allowed for a hearing to consider important new evidence, “in my time there had never been one called.” When I asked him why Hurst’s report didn’t constitute evidence of “glaring errors,” he said, “We get all kinds of reports, but we don’t have the mechanisms to vet them.” Alvin Shaw, another board member at the time, said that the case didn’t “ring a bell,” adding, angrily, “Why would I want to talk about it?” Hurst calls the board’s actions “unconscionable.”

read more
For information on similar cases, and how you can help, see The Innocence Project.

For information on how best to reform the current unjustice system, and the idea of “criminality”, see Criminon.

Also check out to learn more of Todd Willingham’s life and death, and how you can help restore his reputation.