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Terry Williams: A Life in the Balance

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Guilty police and other security officers usually get off. Deserving Black youths or adults stand little chance.

Brown v. United States (1921) was a landmark self-defense case. The Supreme Court ruled for petitioner. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote the majority opinion, saying "(d)etched reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an uplifted knife."

Armed self-defense in capital cases is legal. Is it less so defending against multiple rapes? Williams' abuse continued throughout adolescence. One of his abusers was his former teacher. It conflicted him enough to commit self-mutilation acts.

Dr. David Lisak is a nationally recognized child sexual abuse expert. On behalf of Williams he said:

"Terry Williams suffered a succession of sustained traumas over the course of his childhood that utterly undermined his development and were directly related to the crimes for which he is now incarcerated." 

"His mother brutally abused him, both physically and emotionally, and so damaged (him) that he desperately sought the attention and approval of an older male, someone who could replace the father he never knew." 

"His desperate need was a vulnerability that drew sexual predators to him. From the age of six, Terry was systematically abused and sexually assaulted by a succession of sexual predators, including one of his teachers." 

"He felt intense shame and disgust, and loathed himself. And over time, some of that hate began to turn towards the men who (were) preying on him."

Williams never got counseling or other supportive help. Instead, people he turned to, abused him.

Tragedy resulted. His life now hangs in the balance. At age 44, he's been tormented and abused since age six. Aren't 38 years of hell enough? He deserves more than clemency. 

He deserves professional counseling, support, love, care, and release when able to cope on his own. 

Odds for a Black man getting this type justice are virtually nil. Jim Crow prosecutors and judges prefer throwing the book at them. Doing so increases their advancement prospects.

A Final Comment

On September 28, the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons decided only to take Williams' clemency under advisement. It didn't say when it would rule.

On October 3, he's scheduled to die. Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina will decide whether or not to grant him a stay. As of September 28, he remains in limbo. His life literally hangs in the balance.

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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