They’re baaaaaaack! Who? The Anthonys of course. Casey’s parents, George and Cindy, gave their first post-trial interview to Dr. Phil McGraw (who reportedly made a large donation to their missing-children’s charity), and portions of it have filled the Dr. Phil show on each of the past two days. If you missed me talking about it on the Joy Behar show on HLN, here are the high points:
Cindy Anthony strikes me as a woman trying desperately to find ways to think and talk about her daughter that allows for some kind of relationship to exist between them going forward. At one point, Cindy actually suggested that perhaps Casey had either a seizure or an episode of post-partum psychosis, during which the little girl drowned in the family pool, after which Casey panicked and hid the body, presumably fearing some kind of criminal responsibility for negligent supervision of the child. That seems absurd to me, and here’s why:
Even if evidence had been presented of such a mental impairment in Casey before, during, or after the little girl’s disappearance — and no such evidence was presented — it would make absolutely no sense for anyone who had been babysitting a child to wake up from a seizure, fainting spell, etc., find the child unresponsive, and not immediately call 911, hoping that paramedics could revive the child. Nobody, not even an extreme narcissist, would worry about getting in trouble in a pure accident scenario like that. Yes, some people react bizarrely to traumatic events, but the vast majority of the time, as the old saying goes, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.
That’s why I remain convinced, beyond any reasonable doubt, that it wasn’t a pure accident and that Casey was doing something heinous at the time of the child’s death (e.g. abusing drugs and passing out, attempting to sedate the child but overdosing her, striking or shaking the child in frustration, or…possibly…actively murdering the child). Prosecutors simply didn’t have the evidence to prove what exactly happened, which is why I’ve continuously said that the logical result would’ve been a manslaughter conviction, as that’s commensurate with the least-culpable scenario that I see.
George Anthony, on the other hand, strikes me as a man trying desperately to accept that his daughter was complicit in his granddaughter’s death (and to accept what that says about his daughter, about his parenting of her, about his initial acceptance of her lies in spite of his law-enforcement training, etc.). It’s not that unusual clinically to see a woman apparently prioritizing “relationship-preservation” over “justice” after a betrayal and a man apparently doing the opposite (I think that’s probably why wives seem to stay married to cheating husbands more often than husbands stay married to cheating wives), and that looks like what may be going on with the Anthonys.
What does seem unusual, though, is the extent to which the Anthonys appeared, in this interview at least, to have made peace with each other’s rather divergent views of their daughter. Sometimes going through traumas together breaks marriages up, and sometimes it brings couples closer together. It was fun to discuss the Anthony case (widely believed to be the biggest American judicial travesty since O.J. Simpson’s murder case) with Marcia Clark, the lead prosecutor in the O.J. case, and I agree with her that it may be too early to predict what the long-term future holds for the Anthonys.
In other Lawpsyc news:
Is it a copycat killer kid? A 17-year-old from the Chicago area is in custody after allegedly killing his parents under circumstances that bear striking similarities to the Florida case in which a son allegedly murdered his parents and then had a party at the family home while the parents’ bodies lay hidden in their upstairs bedroom earlier this year. I wonder whether this Chicago kid saw that story, not that it would’ve made him murderous, but I wonder whether it may have given him an idea of how to go about it.
Meanwhile, the medical licensing board in Kansas is finally adjudicating the doctor who allegedly rubber-stamped late-term abortions performed by Dr. George Tiller (I’ve talked about him multiple times on The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News Channel). When Tiller was alive, Kansas law prohibited elective abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy, excepting only circumstances in which two independent physicians concurred that a pregnant woman would suffer substantial and irreversible harm without an abortion. So, the two doctors allegedly cooked up a scheme whereby Tiller would use vague mental-health conditions to justify what essentially were elective abortions, all the way up until the brink of delivery, and the second doctor would always provide the necessary concurring opinion. The law has since been clarified to exclude mental conditions as justifications for later-term abortions, and I testified before Kansas legislators about why that was the right thing to do (that’s me testifying to the left). I’m aware of no mental condition resulting from pregnancy that’s likely to cause anyone substantial and irreversible harm unless the pregnancy is terminated, and even in the closest case imaginable — the case of a psychotic, suicidal woman who says she’s going to kill herself if she doesn’t get an abortion — the abortion still couldn’t be performed because that woman, by definition, would be mentally incompetent to make medical treatment decisions until such time as her mental condition stabilized, at which time there’d no longer be an emergency. Tiller was shot and killed in 2009 by an anti-abortion activist who’s now serving a life prison sentence. The other doctor’s license is on the line this week, and expert testimony has already established that her “second opinions” did not come close to justifying otherwise-illegal late-term abortions, even under the law that existed at the time. And by the way, this woman allegedly facilitated late-term abortions for underage girls as young as…are you ready for this?…ten years old. That’s right, ten. And where were the legally-mandated child abuse reports in such cases? Good question. That answer is about as vague as the mental diagnoses involved. Although I spend part of my professional time assessing physicians’ fitness to practice, I’m actually glad that I wasn’t called to be an expert in this licensee’s case because of how difficult it would’ve been to put aside my utter disgust with her.
And here’s another woman with whom you can be disgusted: A former New York TV meteorologist has entered a guilty plea admitting that she completely fabricated a police report that she had been brutally attacked, beaten, and raped last year. Why did she do it? Attention. She wanted attention, and she got it — 350 man-hours’ worth of attention from police officers searching for the fictitious assailant. Now she’s getting three years of probation, court-ordered psychiatric treatment, and 350 hours of community service. Oh, and she also lost her job. Fine, but like Casey Anthony, she should also have to reimburse the full cost of that unnecessary investigation, even if it takes her the rest of her life (and it might not — I’ll be surprised if she’s back doing the weather on TV anytime soon, but I won’t be surprised if she ends up on some “reality” show, maybe alongside Anthony!). And that’s just the monetary cost — there’s also an intangible cost that can never be reimbursed because every hour that those cops spent investigating her bogus report was an hour during which those cops could’ve been out there patrolling, responding to real emergencies, maybe even saving lives.
Study this: The most recent Census Bureau data are being widely reported to suggest that upwards of 15% of American families are now living in poverty (e.g. on an annual income of less than $22,000 for a family of four). That figure may be a little misleading, however, both conceptually (when you take into account that many such families receive assistance that isn’t included in their reported incomes) and practically (when you take into account that the average American family in “poverty” reportedly has a car, a refrigerator with plenty of food in it, an oven, a stove, a microwave, a clothes washer and dryer, air conditioning, cable or satellite TV with at least two TV sets, a DVR, a video gaming system, a cordless phone, a coffee maker, a sturdy roof over all of that, and electricity to run all of that — which is not to say that poverty in America deserves no concern or attention, just that if you travel around the world, you can find many people in many places who’d dispute our definition of it).
And finally, an uplifting story: You may remember a couple of years ago when I went on The O’Reilly Factor to discuss a shameful story out of Connecticut in which an elderly man lay injured in the middle of a street as driver after driver swerved around him rather than stopping to help him (that’s me talking about it with then-guest-host, now Ohio Gov. John Kasich, to the left). No, that’s not the uplifting story, but if you recall that one, then this new one just might renew some faith in your fellow Americans. In Salt Lake City, Utah, a motorcycle collided with a car, and the motorcyclist ended up trapped underneath the car, which caught fire. As the flames spewed out from under the car’s hood, bystanders, one after the other, lined up alongside the car and lifted it, lifted the car, so that another bystander could pull the motorcyclist to safety. Now that — spontaneous, voluntary assistance, rendered by concerned citizens, on the scene, who see a need and join together to help a fellow citizen out — is the kind of public assistance I’d actually like to see more of!