I am a registered Democrat, mother of an abuse survivor, and support Beth Grossman for District Attorney of Philadelphia.
That day, it was pouring rain. It poured so bad the ceiling fell through at work. It was summer, and one of my daughters was acting out at summer camp and was asked to leave. My children’s father and I had only just gotten back together, and the children were happy about it, so we all agreed my daughter would stay with her father during the day while I was at work. This rainy day was their first day alone together so I could work; he sent me pictures of her writing and sitting on the couch. Before this, my daughter would say “Daddy doesn’t like me.” I thought about what a good thing this seemed to be for all of us, and for them to have a Daddy / Daughter day.
After the ceiling fell through at work, I called him at home to ask him to come pick me up. He said OK. When I got into the car, I was in the passenger side, he was on the driver’s side, and she was behind us. As I sat down, my daughter* said to me, “Daddy made me suck his penis,” and it was as if the world just stopped.
I just paused. He said “That’s not what happened.”
She said, “Yeah. And you told me not to tell Mommy.”
I was just totally thrown. I can hardly even remember driving to pick up the rest of our children. When we got to pick up our youngest from daycare I couldn’t let them sit in the car together. So he went in to pick up the baby, and I asked my daughter questions about what happened. And I just knew, I knew, in my gut I knew she was telling me the truth. I was angry, upset, saddened, and all I could think was – ‘What do I do, what do I do?’
When he came back out to put the baby in the car I got out of the passenger side and after he closed the door we stood in the rain. I screamed at him: “How could you do that!” He continued to deny everything. He couldn’t even look at me.
I got into the driver’s side of the car. I can’t remember getting home. I drove us to the house and I told him to go into the house, get his things and leave. After telling him to be gone before I got back, I left with my kids. And I cried. I cried for various reasons. I cried for my daughter, and for the situation. What did I put myself into, what did I put my kids into? I called DHS, they helped me make a plan of what to do until we were assigned a social worker. I worried they wouldn’t believe her, but our assigned worker was so nice. They took us down to SVU and St. Christopher’s hospital. They reached out to him to get his response. They couldn’t get in touch with him. We found out that he never went back to work, that he left town, so a warrant was put out for his arrest. Eventually I had to keep a phone I had for him on in order to convince him to come back into Philadelphia and face justice.
When I say the people in court were wonderful, I mean they were wonderful. It makes me tear up still to think of how strong my daughter had to be to face her father in court, and the prosecutors and advocates were with her the entire time. When it was time for sentencing they asked me if I wanted to make a statement. Standing in front of that full court room, after the judge heard 87 cases that day, they still made time to listen to me, and I really, truly felt heard. The judge gave him the maximum sentence and people in the courtroom, black, white, brown, from all different walks of life, they all cheered for my daughter and me and the justice served.
The Assistant District Attorney in charge of prosecuting the case told me I could always get in touch with him, especially when my children’s father comes up for parole, but he comes up for parole next year. The idea of someone being in charge of the DA’s office that has no experience being there for victims makes me afraid for my family. So much that I have thought we would have to move out of the city soon. This is why I am for Beth Grossman for District Attorney. I do not want to have to pick up my kids and put their lives into chaos again because of this man. We need a District Attorney that knows what she is doing, my children’s safety is too important to me to vote any other way.
Social Services Professional, Mother, Concerned Resident of Philadelphia
*all names of underage victims and family names have been withheld to protect their privacy