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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Help Me Save the Life of Terrance Williams - Read My Personal Story

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is preparing to execute Terrance “Terry” Williams on October 3, 2012, in spite of staunch opposition to his execution from the victim’s widow, five jurors from trial, child advocates, former prosecutors and judges, faith leaders, mental health professionals, law professors and others.
I urgently appeal to Governor Tom Corbett, the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons, and District Attorney Seth Williams to spare Terrance Williams’ life and allow him to be sentenced to life without parole.
Terrance Williams, victim of child sexual abuse
scheduled for execution on October 3, 2012.
Throughout his childhood, Terry suffered prolonged violent physical and sexual abuse from older males. Born into poverty with a violently abusive mother and absent father, Terry faced abuse and neglect in his home that made him vulnerable to sexual predators. He was first raped by an older boy when he was only six years old, and he continued to suffer sexual abuse for the next twelve years.  Like too many other victims of child sexual abuse, Terry received no counseling or support to help him deal with the repeated traumas he endured; in fact, some of the people who were supposed to help Terry preyed on him.
As a teenager, Terry became acquainted with two middle-aged men who used their influence as a church leader and as a sports booster to get access to young boys. These men sexually abused and brutally exploited Terry. After years of suffering unimaginable horrors, when he was 17- and 18-years old, Terry killed these two men – and now faces death.
Terry’s tragic history of abuse was never presented at trial. Because of this, several jurors who sentenced him to death now support commuting his sentence to life without parole. At the time of trial, Terry was traumatized and ashamed of the violence he suffered, and his lawyer did not investigate obvious signs of abuse. The jury thus did not hear any evidence about the relentless abuse Terry faced, nor did they know that the two men he killed were in fact his abusers.
Jurors have stated that that if they had known all the facts about Terry's background and his abuse by the men he killed, they would not have voted for death.
The widow of the man whose killing resulted in Terry’s death sentence has forgiven Terry and does not want him to be executed.  She has found peace and closure and does not wish to see any more loss of life. The victim’s widow has expressed herhope that Governor Corbett, the Board of Pardons, and District Attorney Williams will show Terry mercy.
In addition to the victim’s widow and jurors, there has been an unprecedented outpouring of support from prominent groups and individuals across Pennsylvania. Child advocates, former prosecutors and judges, faith leaders, mental health professionals, law professors and others have publicly supported commuting Terry’s sentence to life without parole.
Terry is deeply remorseful for his actions and prays that the families of the men he killed can find peace.
You can read more about Terry's case, including the numerous letters in support of clemency, here:
I join in asking Governor Corbett, the Board of Pardons, and District Attorney Williams to spare Terrance Williams’ life. 
by Sue Osthoff
Philadelphia, PA

Why I Need Your Help - My Personal Story
By Kym L. Pasqualini
Please read my personal story and letter to PA Governor Corbett, PA Board of Pardons, and District Attorney Williams asking to spare Terrance Williams life.

Governor Tom Corbett, PA Board of Pardons, District Attorney Seth Williams – please do not disregard my plea and personal story.

Kym L. Pasqualini - Age 9.
A month before my life changed forever.
I have served this country as a victim advocate for nearly twenty years as founder and former CEO of the Nation's Missing Children Organization (1994-2010) and the National Center for Missing Adults (2000-2010).

There is a reason I became an outspoken advocate for victims of crime  . . . because there was no one to advocate for me.  I am an adult survivor of child sexual abuse. I survived by turning my pain into a passion to help others but this was after years of suffering, suicide attempts, drug abuse, violence toward others, and crime.

I suffered years of horrific physical and sexual abuse by a man who was released from prison in 1973 after only serving 3.5 years on an original 1st degree homicide charge for killing his 5yr old son. His sentence reduced to involuntary manslaughter, deemed mentally ill and could not stand trial. When he walked free, my younger brother’s lives and mine were forever altered.

As a teen and young adult, I had fallen into a cycle of self-abuse and it was not until I stood in front of Superior Court Judge Nastro in shackles for a possession charge that my life was saved. Someone in authority had finally acknowledged my pain and told me I had value. My value had been raped from me beginning at age 9 but hearing Judge Nastro’s voice that day, for the first time in my young life I felt I had worth and empowered to change my life. Judge Nastro challenged me to direct my pain into something positive and gave me the opportunity to touch other lives. I am certain Terrance never had that chance. I have spent years in cognitive therapies, EMDR treatment for Complex PTSD, and still suffer.  Had I not had intervention, I am certain I would not be alive today or I would be in prison.  I did turn my pain into something positive and the agency I founded was funded $1 mil annually by US Dept. of Justice so I could turn a personal tragedy into something to help others. In fact, Governor Corbett, I have a signed recognition and proclamation acknowledging my work in PA - it is signed by you.

I can attest to the fact that most victims of child sexual abuse do not come forward due to fear and shame - forced to live a life with a murdered soul and loss of innocence. My story is a perfect example of repeated failures in the criminal justice system as I first reported in 1979. The man who abused me is still out there and I am certain there have been more victims. For me, I have struggled through life haunted by this man who continues to harass me as recently as 2010. Have I thought of taking justice into my own hands? I would be lying if I said I had not because child sexual predators never stop!

Though I do not condone murder, I beg you to take into consideration that what Terry did should really be considered a form of self-defense,  as he was preyed upon.  Those of us who suffer from PTSD are consistently in "fight or flight" mode as a protective mechanism and suffer sometimes debilitating psychological and physiological effects.  A Montreal Study on brains of suicide victims who had been victims of child sexual abuse proved the trauma caused genetic changes in the brain.  I would be happy to share additional and astounding studies reflecting how trauma causes permanent changes and physical scarring of the brain. The years of abuse Terrance suffered should not be dismissed and clearly a contributor for entering the fight or flight mode and committing an act so he would no longer feel threatened by the abuser. The pain inflicted on victims does not go away once we are adults, if anything it becomes increasingly more difficult to cope as we age facing a proven brain injury that affects every aspect of our lives, including early mortality.

I beg for Terrance's life and for all of you to take into consideration the pain and suffering Terrance endured. Believe me when I say, living the aftermath of child sexual abuse knowing the perpetrator is still out there and experiencing constant inner turmoil that does not dissipate is a life sentence. In addition, knowing a predator is still out there potentially harming other children can cause a victim to feel hopeless or feel they must do everything in their power to save other victims.

I have assisted thousands of families of missing persons and worked closely with local, state, and federal law enforcement. I also founded a program called Life Corrections and have gone on to speak to women inmates sharing my personal story to help other’s overcome adversity and stop cycles of abuse. This is your opportunity to save a life that in return can help save other lives.

Senator Dick Durbin, Kym L. Pasqualini, Shelia Vojack,
and President Obama - 2005
What if I had not been given a chance?
To execute Terrance Williams would be an injustice as child predators, and in my case, child murderers receive less time than drug traffickers and released to continue preying on other victims.

I pray that each of you search your heart and exercise compassion. Terrance has the potential to help others by sharing his story, he has the potential to help others find the courage to report child sexual abuse, he has the potential to touch other's lives granted the opportunity and you hold his life in your hands. 

For one moment think of the helplessness one feels when they are the victim of rape. I know because I have lived it but I also know the system is still broken because my own child was a victim of rape. The adult predators still walking the street while I must watch my own child suffer from this life-altering experience. I urge you to focus on combating the perpetrators, improve the system, and prevent victims from feeling they have no options.

Again, I beg you not to take the life of a man who felt hopeless, felt he had no way out, and made a momentary decision he will regret for his lifetime. Child sexual abuse is one of the most horrific experiences one can endure and in essence a life sentence. Incarceration for taking the life of a predator is punishment Terrance accepts but taking his life is removing any chance of helping other victims not make the same decision and it also removes the ability to empower victims to report crimes. I urge you to please search your hearts and pardon Terrance Williams.