My Dad “In the Rear View Mirror” 

Donald Gore

Donald Gore, my father

Another milestone is occurring this week; the 34th anniversary of my father Donald Gore’s murder. There’s no easy way to say it. In searching my mind for what to write, what might inspire others to carry on with their journey, I struggle with each passing year.  Some of the bad memories have faded away to oblivion, other images have remained in infamy.

In this struggle, I realized that if I cannot say something new or different, it’s not really about my dad anymore, it’s about the mission of serving others in his memory. The circumstances of the crime and the myriad of errors that occurred remain the same. However, there are always new challenges and new people to assist.

(My previous blog relates the circumstances of my father’s murder if readers are unfamiliar: History can only be written by the survivors….)

Actually, I have two milestones here; April 17, 1981, my father’s “death anniversary”  is the first milestone.  However, a much more celebratory, yet bittersweet, anniversary is the two-year anniversary of the parole hearing for the perpetrator that occurred on April 24, 2013. A day to remember for me and my family was captured well by Dr. Laurie Roth on her national radio show the same evening; the good, the bad, the ugly all rolled into one!  If you’re in a similar circumstance I hope listening will provide you with helpful information.

A Victory for Victims of Crime

Of great significance was the fact that our family was able to fend off a bid for freedom for my father’s murderer for another five years AND changed State of Connecticut Policy in terms of upholding a victim’s right to anonymity.  Using our right to deliver a victim impact statement was of utmost importance in this hearing and helped generate the outcome.

Dealing with a dangerous criminal face to face, and prohibiting access to a family via the internet, is of utmost importance and we are proud to be a part of positive change for other victims of crime.  Victim Anonymity PRESS RELEASE 8 12 13

The entire experience was disturbing after all these years, and yet it was our shining moment in the best of ways. For her assistance to my family, thank you to Attorney- Advocate Michelle S. Cruz for the miracles that took place that day due in large part to her skills!

Who was My Father?

Donald Gore racing his motorcycle

Donald Gore racing his motorcycle

Donald W. Gore was man like any other. He was not perfect, but did the best he could and always provided for his family with a fierce work ethic. His claim to fame involved motorcycle championships many years running.  He was on the verge of a new entrepreneurial opportunity when he was struck down forever at age 47.  Today, all family members carry on each in their own ways. I say proudly, I not only survive, but thrive!  For all of the professional relationships and friendships I have made over these many years, I am forever grateful.

So, if there is one lesson to be learned from murder, it is that you can carry on and even thrive with time!

We will have to “prepare with our armor and our raw emotions” for the next parole hearing in 2018, however, there is so much work to do for others in the meantime! My Dad would like that!

My Dad “In the Rear View Mirror”

The Irresistible Force Meets the Hired Killer of the “Manson Family”  

 A Victory for Victim Impact

Doris Tate delivers victim impact statement at the parole hearing of Tex Watson

Doris Tate delivers victim impact statement at the parole hearing of Tex Watson

Imagine my surprise when perusing YouTube to suddenly come upon a video that “speaks a million words” in just over four minutes!

Doris Tate was a heroine and the mother of pregnant actress Sharon Tate, who was brutally murdered by “Tex” (Charles Denton) Watson.  Tex also killed four others during a spree murderous rampage over two days. Tex and others carried out the killings orchestrated by Charles Manson.  The scene was Benedict Canyon in Los Angeles, California, August 1969. Watson was found guilty of murder in 1971. However, the death penalty was overturned in California in 1972 for four years and his sentence was commuted to life in prison.

All baby boomers recall the horror of this crime. The heinous acts included stabbing Sharon 16 times as she was in her 8th month of pregnancy; scrawling the word “PIG” on the door of the Polanski-Tate home and killing three of Tate’s houseguests. Co-conspirators Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel murdered coffee heiress Abigail Folger and neighbors Rosemary and Leno La Bianca.  Leno LaBianca suffered seven stab wounds and had the word “War” carved in his abdomen.  Prosecutor, Vincent Bugliosi called Atkins “A heartless bloodthirsty robot” who did Manson’s bidding.  Susan Atkins admitted killing Sharon Tate.

According to internet sources, all surviving participants are now advanced in age and have accepted responsibility. (Susan Atkins died in 2009). Tex converted to Christianity, became an ordained minister,  married while in prison and had three children in the 1980’s. Watson was denied parole at least 14 times over the years.

“I Feel Sorry for this Man as he Chose this Way of Life.”

Doris Tate, mother of slain Sharon Tate

Doris Tate, mother of slain Sharon Tate

Was it a comfort to Doris Tate that Tex had “accepted responsibility” in his own way? I doubt it. Doris had the opportunity to “go head to head” with Tex in 1982. This was the first ever true victim impact statement delivered by a female.   I am not sure that I would have had the strength or courage to sit three feet away from “my murderer” across the table, as she did!

Doris became the champion of victim’s rights in the midst of the most horrific crime of that era.  She was adamant that serial killers could never be trusted, rehabilitated or released from prison. The followers of Charles Manson were little more than hollow waifs duped into thinking that Manson’s propaganda and drug induced brainwashing and hate “served a higher purpose.”

In reality, it caused irreparable harm to many. It introduced the “love and peace generation” to mass murder and forever tainted our hearts!

The First Victim Impact Statement by Doris Tate: (4 min,26 secs)

Watch and listen at least twice …. Just amazing! 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gr-MUJsROKQ 

 “When Do I (As the Mother of Sharon Tate) Come Up for Parole?

Indeed! When your daughter is 8 month pregnant and is stabbed 16 times, you are forever a prisoner of the horrible details. You miss out on life milestones that will never be.  You never get relief. You don’t get your loved one back and you never come up for parole!

I won’t even get into the bizarre effort of Susan La Barge, the daughter of Rosemary and Leno La Bianco  who pleaded for the release of Charles Tex Watson in 1990. Susan’s mother was stabbed 42 times! I won’t even get into it! I won’t tell you what Doris said! Talk about crazy!

Sadly, Doris Tate passed away on July 10, 1992 at age 68.  Her memory and accomplishments will live on in history and in the hearts and minds of crime victims everywhere.   May you finally rest in peace Sharon and your grandchild.

This brings me to the point that, in 2015, a finely crafted, personal victim impact statement can create a powerful impact, as Doris’s did to pave the way for others. Don’t leave such an important event to chance.  Contact me with advanced notice for optimal results!  And NEVER forget about Doris Tate!

You can find details on Victim Impact Statement Assistance at this link:

http://donnagore.com/victim-impact-statement-assistance/

A New Normal…

 

Crime victims do not have the label emblazoned on their foreheads, but they might as well once their circle of friends and co-workers know what has occurred. They carry on with the business of life, but how can you?

When the crime and the loss of your loved one first occurs, your entire world has been turned upside down and inside out.  You retreat; you’re numb, in shock and disbelief. You “have an idea” what should occur with the police and the judicial system as you are smart and keep up with current events (or so you think.)

You are either a doer and try to arrange, organize, and  call investigators twice a day for the latest information (that they cannot divulge), all in an attempt to postpone the gut wrenching grief …Or you are condemned to the couch in a fetal position looking for a reason to go on.

Your family members are “all over the place” with their emotions. They want to talk about it, or not at all, they try to seek comfort in their own ways and may resist your attempts to band together in solidarity.  If relationships are strained to begin with, thrusting people into this incomprehensible situation can fuel the fire.  It is the rare family who can put aside their differences and be troopers in the face of violent crime. However, it is possible.  Such complex dynamics remind me of the classic movie “The Big Chill”: (Part 1 of 6)  A bunch of misfit college friends are thrown together over the loss of their friend’s suicide.

After violent crime, your friends and co-workers are supposed to be your anchors, right?  Well, not really!

Co-workers and friends may secretly feel that the family did not take measures to prevent or intercede, that they were somehow partially responsible.

If the case is high-profile with the media, there are ever-present reminders, innuendo, rumor and misinformation.

Knowing that your average adult attention span is fleeting for “normal conversation,” how do you engage with them repeatedly with your tragedy? How can they possibly relate? How can they sympathize? Unless they have been through it, they cannot. You do not know it, but you are a burden to the workings of other’s normalcy! It’s not you! It’s they who are so uncomfortable! It is not your job to make them feel comfortable when you are actively grieving.

One of my favorite sayings for this intersection of life was that after the homicide “the casseroles stopped coming after two weeks.” Yup, two weeks is the average attention span for those who cannot relate!

Therefore, you MUST change-up your friends for those you grieve with and have a common bond with, such as a crime victim’s support group become your true friends, your surrogate family for as long as you need them! However, for some, there is that temptation to take on the victim identity for too long, unable to establish a “new normal.” BEWARE my friends of the pitfalls of grief! The pitfalls  can “eat you up and spit you out for dinner” if you do not have the proper guidance to help you navigate for the long haul.

It is rough terrain indeed! Even thirty plus years down the trail, I am not perfect. I wear the scars of vulnerabilities and some regrets for which I have no control.  Ahhh, but wouldn’t it be nice if we were able to dance again, “just like at the end of the Big Chill” movie despite the tragedy that has occurred. It is sign of healing, if only for a minute!  Who wants to dance with me?  The Big Chill Dance Scene: 

With that said another aspect of the aftermath of crime whose drum cannot be beaten enough, is the task and importance of the Victim Impact Statement which can, if carefully crafted, change the outcome of sentencing and any former thoughts of prisoner release with the proper assistance.

Contact me if interested! http://donnagore.com/victim-impact-statement-assistance/

Crime Victimization & Victim Impact: Nuts & Bolts and Some “Intangibles”

crime-268896_640

Just keeping afloat in 2015, takes incredible fortitude and courage. Seemingly at every turn, we see violence, sadness, corruption, natural disaster, loss of morality, indifference and a general “dumbing down” of standards that used to be impenetrable. When we have such forces as our backdrop for life, our yardstick, how do we possibly deal with our personal devastation in the aftermath of crime? How do we personally “keep afloat” and find a sense of hope? It is the hardest challenge we will ever face!

Who Does a Better Job?

Although we have made great strides with the infrastructure of victim advocacy over the years, the humanity, the compassion and support and the “going the extra mile” often lags behind when it comes to governmental services perpetually faced with financial cuts. In my opinion, it is the grass root non-profit organizations who have figured out how to do more with less and made friends with community partners, and survivors of crime themselves who appear to be better equipped to provide the services most needed.

Nuts & Bolts of Victim Impact Statement:

During the sentencing phase of a trial or board of pardons and parole hearing, a crime victim is metaphorically standing at the crossroads of their “forever after existence.” That person hopefully has given much thought and has decided what is truly important to convey to the court or BPP officials individually or collectively with the assistance of a paid advocate or fellow survivor.  As the surviving victim, you should ask yourself before you even attempt to compose a statement, what should be my primary focus? What do I really want?  A review of possible options is helpful – non-hierarchical)

  • The emotional impact and devastation of my loss;
  • Financial  restitution;
  • Requesting a verbal or written apology from the offender;
  • Having the opportunity to add new  information to the formal record with the potential of altering the length and provisions of sentencing;
  • Using this forum for emotional release;
  • Describing the future legacy of your murdered loved one;
  • Educating judicial officials regarding your unique needs and nuances of the process which were previously overlooked but very important to you;
  • Expressing forgiveness to “a higher power” as a way of self-healing;

Other Considerations:

  • In the State of Connecticut when delivering your victim impact statement, you are not limited regarding the length of time, nor is the content edited in any way, according to our Board of Pardons and Parole website and personal experience.
  • In the State of South Carolina, a videotaped statement cannot exceed five minutes in the case of one victim, ten minutes for multiple victims.
  • (Be sure to check with your state as rules vary from state to state.)
  • Physical Environment – During a court sentencing, you will be facing the judge with the defendant behind you or to the right or left of you as you make your presentation.  Your statement is part of the official court record, or hearing.
  • Restitution and Compensation (From the National Center for Victims of Crime) Increasing the likelihood that restitution will be ordered:  Victims can do two things to increase the likelihood that restitution will be ordered in their case: gather information about their financial loss, and request that restitution be ordered.  To increase the chances that restitution will be ordered, victims should make sure their victim impact statement includes a summary of the out-of-pocket expenses resulting from the crime
  • The difference between restitution and compensation: While restitution is court-ordered payment from a convicted offender, crime victim compensation is a state government program that pays many of the out-of-pocket expenses of victims of violent crime even when there is no arrest or prosecution. Ordinarily, to be eligible for compensation the victim is required to report the offense within a certain amount of time, cooperate in the investigation and prosecution, and file an application within a set time. The expenses covered by compensation vary and are usually set by state law. All compensation programs cover medical expenses, most cover counseling, and very few cover any property loss.
  • In comparison, restitution can only be ordered in cases where someone has been convicted. However, restitution can be ordered in almost any case (although courts may be required to order it only for certain offenses), and can be ordered for a wider variety of losses, including property loss. A victim cannot collect both compensation and restitution for the same losses.
  • Technology- Videoconferencing is a concept that has existed since 1996. The clear leader in this area appears to be the State of Michigan. They began in 2004 with the Department of Corrections bringing the total of videoconferencing sites to 64, including five “telemed” sites. Imagine never having to leave prison grounds for prisoner –immigration hearings, dietician and mental health appointments! This is an up and coming industry of vast proportions.  MDs  can even use electronic stethoscopes to listen to heart and lungs and view x-rays instantly! Viola! This is all in the name of reducing costs and increasing efficiency!
  • Is there a line in the sand that needs to be drawn to say that victims of crime also need these innovative heath care services, particularly the elderly after having suffered their tremendous losses? Indeed!
  • “Intangibles”- meaning loss of productivity, medical care, mental health, use of public safety services, property loss, “tangible losses”, “quality of life” loss .  The problem is, the data available is so old – from the National Institute of Justice – January 1996, and can only be used as a general reference. Basically, 19 years ago…
  • Estimates of monetary values, including lost wages were in the range of $500,000 to $7 million;

What is Pain and Suffering and Quality of life really worth?

  • In 1996, violent crime was 3% of all medical spending and 14% of injury related spending and 10-20% of mental health expenditures in the U.S.
  • At that time, losses per incident of criminal victimization (including attempts) looked like this for fatal crimes including rape and murder-
  • Loss of productivity- $1,000,000;
  • Medical Care /Ambulance- $16,300;
  • Social-Victim Services- 0
  • Mental Health – $4,800;
  • Police & Fire Services – $1,300;
  • Property Loss/Damage – $120.00
  • Murder “Tangible Losses (Subtotal) “$1,030.000
  • “Intangible Quality of Life Losses” $1,910.00;
  • Total = $2,940.000

(Reference for above from: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/victcost.pdf)

Victim Impact Statement Assistance Service

VIGraphic.001One can assume that for today’s standards, the current cost of living and the escalation of spree and mass murder, these figures may be triple or more per incident. (In my humble opinion)

I do not put much faith in numbers, for they can always be manipulated to serve ones’ point of view, human error is rampant and they do not tell the whole story. I believe that an investment in people and their true life stories illuminate our understanding and pave the way for change far better than what a calculator reveals.

In some cases, the surviving victims may be too emotionally distraught, or may not have the ability to correctly express their feelings. A professional who has experience as a victim of crime, as well as assisting others through trials, can help you put your thoughts into a professionally written statement, and coach you on your delivery in court.

If you are anticipating the task of victim impact statement writing with trepidation, perhaps I can assist.

 

Crime Victimization & Victim Impact: Nuts & Bolts and Some “Intangibles”