In July, shortly following the drug- assisted sexual assault (which was never investigated that way) and subsequent felony charges, I called Grace’s school to request a change of counselors. I needed and got the principal’s approval. I wanted her switched to a young female counselor because of the nature of the problem and since I knew she was under great personal stress. (and because I was disappointed with the dropped ball on the teacher’s report about that night.)
Grace was having trouble eating and sleeping and was anxious and watchful all the time. After hearing what was going on, the new counselor was very kind and said that she would have trouble eating and sleeping too under the circumstances! I was happy Grace would have a soft place to land and I was in regular contact with her about our situation. The school knew the entire situation with this person from the very start.

Grace knew that the young man was very angry with her.

The young man was enraged at finally being held to account for poor behaviors and he thought Grace was to blame. (He almost seems not to know that she too has been pulled in and is facing the exact same situation) She hears from the sister that the mom has turned on her and supports her son. When the assault was discussed and he now says Grace lured him over there and asked for sex, the sister tells Grace her mother said(about her former Girl Scout): “ Maybe we never really knew her….” This information was horribly painful coming from this woman she’d loved. It was simply toxic.

Early on we didn’t understand the intense fear reaction we were seeing in her. Once a carefree, happy goofball, she became frightened to even walk to our mailbox (we share side by side driveways). She wouldn’t even go outside in our yard in case she’d see him during the day. She never felt safe. She only went places when she could confirm with her friend/his sister that he wouldn’t be there. She only went to the pool once that summer- when he wasn’t working. Same with our volunteer work and mass choice at church since they went there too.

Meanwhile, ‘friends’ felt compelled to tell her about things he was saying about her and she’d get texts like ‘guess who is at this party I’m at and what he’s doing?’ or ‘I’m at the fair and ___ is drinking and with some young girls’. While she was living like a prisoner he was out continuing his life as he pleased. A lifeguard friend of hers tells her that ___ talks about her in derogatory terms, including sexual ones. He describes her to others as “a whore who is trying to ruin his life.” At some point Grace tells me she called a rape crisis hotline and was told what happened to her was rape.

Several times in the fall she called my cell crying and asking to be picked up early at school, though she was not ill. She has never done this before. I finally contacted the counselor to be clear that she could go there under those circumstances.
We requested that the school resource officer be made aware of what was going on.

Unfortunately the court process is long and cumbersome. The shadow of the trial hung over the entire summer of 2011. The actual court date was not until Oct. 11th. (and she couldn’t celebrate what would end up being her last birthday (Oct. 9th) because she was so stressed at the thought.)

*** In early October, I became aware of the cyberbullying, which shocked me. I had never seen or heard anyone talk like that, and I was angry it was aimed at my child and was clearly hurting her.****

I typed up this document:

(IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT EACH OF THESE HARMFUL TWEETS WENT OUT TO HUNDREDS OF PEERS AT A TIME)

Social Media Abuses by ***** ****** Summer 2011

Grace McComas got a text message on Thursday evening Oct. 6th 2011 from a friend who said that **** ****** was talking about her on Twitter again. It said:

“Like your own fucking lawyer is helping me out
No one fucking likes you. It’s just sad and I kind of feel bad for you.
See you Tuesday bitches” (our court date)

Grace was already uptight at the appt. we were returning from, but this really made her very upset; she showed me these other tweets he made during the summer…. and consequently broke down at school the next day and at a church function on the weekend. We (parents) are disgusted with the maliciousness and bullying that they represent, especially when you remember that all she did was tell the truth:

Remarks on Twitter:

JaKDaGs
i would consider respecting the court system if it wasn’t so fucked up
JaKDaGs
i hatehatehatehatehatehatehate you. Next time my name rolls off your tongue, choke on it.. and DIE. If you don’t want drama, then don’t run
JaKDaGs
your fucking mouth. You do dirt, you get dirt. Karma doesn’t play, you should know fucking done
JaKDaGs
You are proof that God has a sense of humor. All day I thought of you… I was at the zoo. I’ve come across decomposed bodies that are less
JaKDaGs
offensive than you are. Go the fuck home and stay out of my life and stop talking about me. Its done its over get the fuck over it.. jeeze
JaKDaGs
i hope you somehow see this and cry yourself to sleep then kill yourself..might as well your just a worthless piece of shit. You’ve ruined
JaKDaGs
my life in so many ways..the fucking end
30 Aug

It still rocks me and I can’t help but wonder:

Why wasn’t this considered witness intimidation by the Office of the Howard County States Attorney???? DARIO BROCCOLINO heads this office and is up for re-election next week. He is unopposed so he will win, but I am writing in “GRACE McCOMAS” on my ballot… for multiple reasons which will become clear later. There is no recourse for their mistakes in this office, and I want to send a message that they hurt my child and it has not gone un-noticed

I immediately took the distressing tweets to Grace’s counselor at Glenelg High School. I was told there was nothing to be done because it hadn’t happened on school grounds. No action at all. They wouldn’t even call his parents. I was not offered a ‘bullying form’. At this point we would have used it.

As a consequent of the malicious ‘tweets’, she broke down at school the next day. I was told by her friend that she cried through choir class, and then a young teacher saw her crying, herded her into her room to talk and then ushered her to the student services office.

Our regular counselor was out, but she was seen by another, who also called in HCPD school resource officer (SRO) Steve Willingham,(the ONLY hero in this saga) who was hearing her story for the first time. This surprised me because I’d requested this earlier.

When he heard the story Grace told, he asked why _____ had not been charged with rape.
He called me and asked me the same, and told me he wanted to look into the case. (He did and requested it be reviewed as a sex crime but it was denied).
He also said he’d made a phone call to Assistant States Attny. Lisa Romano asking her to call me and advise what the likelihood was that Grace would need to testify against ______as it was scaring her so much. I never received a phone call, but now wonder if that is what that first tweet is about.

I copied the tweets and sent them to the Family A, the Office of the Howard County States Attorney and my lawyer friend, who ended up being in the same office that Grace’s case went to. I wanted them to stop immediately. I knew she couldn’t help, but would know what to do. She is a very loving mother to her boys and I was actually pretty disappointed with her response.

I later found out that “Just ignore it!” is a common phrase adults use who totally misunderstand the power and pervasiveness of the cyberbullying).

In large letters he chided me for looking at them:

“Stop! I know this week is a stressful time, but you are driving yourself crazy. Stop obtaining information about ___. Stop making ____ the villain, even if in your heart you think it is true. It is not helping you, it is just making you and Grace feel bad. (What he is writing is terrible. Stop subjecting yourself to it.) If you want on Monday, when you speak to your attorney, you can share these texts with your attorney and ask him to ask the prosecutor to make it a condition of ____ sentence that he not have direct or indirect contact with Grace until approved by the parents. You can ask that it be specific that he not mention her on FaceBook, tweets or any other social media”

When I told her what a wreck Grace was because of them and the chance that she might have to face him and testify against him in court (supeona) she said:

“As for the present and through the weekend, the ball is in motion on this case, you do not have the power to stop it…. just be there to support Grace… With your support she will get through Court, probation, learning and growing, and she will be stronger after the process. Grace is strong enough to get through this. Trust her. You and Dave are great parents. You will all be okay.

It makes me doubly sad to read this now.

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