Gloucester principal: Mayor's lying

gloucester mayor 2.jpgRecall Gloucester Mayor Carolyn Kirk's June 23 press conference, when, according to USA Today:

The city's mayor said Monday there is no evidence a group of young girls made a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together, seeking to dispel an explosive theory put forth by the high school principal....
Kirk said she and Superintendent Christopher Farmer have been in touch with [Gloucester High School principal Joseph] Sullivan, and that he was "foggy in his memory" about how he came to believe there was a pact.

"When pressed, his memory failed," Kirk said.

Sullivan is who first told Time reporter Kathleen Kingsbury about the pact among 8 of 18 pregnant students at GHS to get pregnant and raise their babies together.

I wrote in this week's WorldNetDaily.com column Kirk threw Sullivan under the bus at her press conference. She's trying to avoid city liability if the pregnancies weren't reported to authorities as possible sex abuse.

Well, Sullivan is fighting back. According to the Gloucester Daily Times, June 26:

Principal Joseph Sullivan yesterday refuted characterization by Mayor Carolyn Kirk that he was incapable of remembering or verifying his statements about an alleged effort by some Gloucester High School students to become pregnant and raise children together.

gloucester principal.jpg

In a statement issued to the Times by his lawyer... Sullivan rejected Kirk's suggestion at a news conference Monday that he was "foggy in his memory" and that "his memory failed him" when pressed to say where he got his information and whether he told a reporter from Time magazine that a number of the 18 students who became pregnant this past school year did so intentionally as part of a "pact."...

"I honestly do not remember specifically using the word 'pact' in my meeting with the Time magazine reporter," Sullivan said. However, he said he stands by belief that "my understanding was that a number of the pregnancies were intentional and that the students within this group were friendly with each other."...

Attempts to reach Kirk by phone for comment were unsuccessful. But in an e-mail statement, Kirk declined to comment on Sullivan's statements, but said she did not regret her comments on Monday....

gloucester usa today.jpg

In March, the Gloucester Daily Times reported that 10 girls within the school, three times the average annual number, were pregnant. By the end of May, the medical director of the school health clinic, Dr. Brian Orr, said that 17 girls had become pregnant between June 2007 and 2008. Amid debate about the confidential distribution of birth control pills and condoms, Orr and Kim Daly, the clinic's nurse practitioner, resigned after they said officials from Addison Gilbert Hospital, which runs the clinic, had been reluctant to distribute birth control.

Sullivan's statement says that he told Kingsbury that distribution of birth control at the high school would not have prevented the spike in pregnancies because "my sources had informed me that a significant number of the pregnancies, especially among the younger students, were the result of deliberate and intentional behavior."

Sullivan told the Gloucester Daily Times two days after he met with Kingsbury that the pregnancy spike had been caused by a "clique of girls who wanted to get pregnant." He also said the distribution of contraceptives at the high school without the consent of parents would "break the trust between the parents and school."...

Sullivan's statement says that Kirk has not tried to contact him since June 11....

[Photo of Kirk courtesy of the AP; photo of Sullivan courtesy of Gloucester Daily Times; photo of school courtesy of USA Today;


Comments:

The fourth(?) installment of this story reminds me of a statement by a judge after a protracted jury trial:

"You didn't try this case, you wore it out..."

Posted by: Bystander at June 27, 2008 12:19 PM


Soooo...who's lying now?

Posted by: RSD at June 27, 2008 12:22 PM


I can honestly say that the reaction to this story by both sides of the debate is equally baffling to me, and just shows no one involved really cares about the girls or their babies - they care about blaming someone else and trying to make themselves look good.

What a sham.

On one hand you have people like Jill, who claim to be pro life, framing this like its something AWFUL, when the reality is, a bunch of teenage girls consented to sex, and wanted to have children. Instead of even ATTEMPTING to see anything positive in this (as in HEY!! Not all teenage girls are nymphos! Some of them want to be MOMS!!?!?!), its just turned in to a "who is the best target for blame here?" The pro-life agenda turning on these girls sends an abosutely horrible message to them, and to any teen girl paying attention to the story - that no matter WHAT choice she makes, she's going to be looked at with condemnation and judgement.

On the other hand, you have people who thought that giving out birth control was a solution to deal with girls who wanted to get pregnant. I mean...HUH????!!! And then claiming Juno made girls want to get pregnant, coming from the same types of people who (and rightfully so) were outraged at the idea that Brokeback Mountain made people want to be gay.

Posted by: Amanda at June 27, 2008 12:40 PM


Totally unrelated but I'm too psyched not to yell it out...

Mike just signed the purchase and sale on a condo !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

a little mind blowing watching him write a check for more money than I make in 6 months, but regardless...

Its official!! =)

Posted by: Amanda at June 27, 2008 12:55 PM


Bystander, I don't just fly by stories I choose to write on, if you'll notice. I cover them. I see them through. If there's an update, I cover it, like the Obama/Johansson story. If there's closure, I report it, like the bank teller/twin murder story. If a topic I'm covering bores you, don't read it.

Posted by: Jill Stanek at June 27, 2008 12:57 PM


Amanda, I agree that the reactions have been a bit strange.

It has also struck me that no one seems to be talking to young people and attempting to make an effort to *understand*. Just a lot of finger pointing and pearl clutching.


Posted by: lauren at June 27, 2008 1:00 PM


I'm actually interested in seeing how my doctors appointment this afternoon goes.

I'm in my early 20's, and have a 3 year old son. I'm currantly 8 months pregnant with our second. I've had 3 "planned"(we actually are quiverful, but if the options are planned vs. unplanned I think we fall into the former catagory)pregnancies.

My former OB was wonderful. If anything he was *too* concerned with why I wasn't getting pregnant. We moved to a new town which means a new OB, and I have no idea how I'll be percieved.

My hope is that I won't be judged because of my age, but I know that there is a good chance that the doctor/nurses will take one look at my birthday and my number of pregnancies and make some snap judgements.

I hopeful that they will consider the possibility that we are simply a Christian couple who value children, as is the case. My fear is that they'll instead view me as an ignorant girl who is too young to be on her third pregnancy and thus must be ill-educated and flippant.

Wow, sorry to go off on a little rant there, I didn't realize I was feeling so anxious about this appointment!

Posted by: lauren at June 27, 2008 1:08 PM


Lauren,

I absolutely understand your anxiety, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if you were treated that way. One of the saddest things for me was hearing stories from the pregnant girls I was dealing with in NYC of how they were treated by others - shunned from Church, shunned by their peers, given dirty looks, etc... when really, quite a few of them had their heads on straight and their acts together, were working hard on graduating from HS, and really set on the path to being great parents. And yet the same people who think having abortion is horrible would look at them and shake their heads and make comments - either in judgement or pity - when really they deserved neither. If they said they were going to marry the baby's father, they were told that having pre-marital sex had already doomed them, and it was only a matter of time before he took off and abandoned them. What kind of message does this send them? How do we try to TELL them abortion ISN'T there best option when we still TREAT them as though it should be?

Posted by: Amanda at June 27, 2008 1:19 PM


Jill, there's one thing that really bugs me, here.

I wrote in this weeks WorldNetDaily.com column Kirk through Sullivan under the bus at her press conference.

"threw." Ouch.

Posted by: Doug at June 27, 2008 1:39 PM


the idea that Brokeback Mountain made people want to be gay.

Amanda, that just cracks me up.

If anything, that movie had good-looking sheep in it.

Posted by: Doug at June 27, 2008 1:41 PM


Per Amanda:

"What a sham.

On one hand you have people like Jill, who claim to be pro life, framing this like its something AWFUL, when the reality is, a bunch of teenage girls consented to sex, and wanted to have children. Instead of even ATTEMPTING to see anything positive in this (as in HEY!! Not all teenage girls are nymphos! Some of them want to be MOMS!!?!?!), its just turned in to a "who is the best target for blame here?" The pro-life agenda turning on these girls sends an abosutely horrible message to them, and to any teen girl paying attention to the story - that no matter WHAT choice she makes, she's going to be looked at with condemnation and judgement."

Amanda,
Please.

Why do you think the pro-life community should not be disturbed at the actions of these girls?
It would be irresponsible for anyone to rally behind the actions of these girls and congratulatie them for conceiving a child just to fullfill some immature pact between a bunch of highschool friends by having sex with random strangers.

You can't really believe they want to be "MOMS"
do you? Most teenagers don't even understand what this means until they have that little baby to raise.

Had these same teenagers gotten pregnant under different circumstances, a number of them more than likely would have aborted without a thought. They are not having nor keeping these babies due to pro-life beliefs, they are keeping them like pets to fullfill some ridiculous fantasy "that it would be really fun if we all got pregnant together and raised our babies together" (which we all know in the end will never happen)

Don't try to make this out to be a pro-life vs. pro-choice argument.

Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice is really not the underlying issue here. We can all look at this the same way. The real issue is that 18 girls willfully SET OUT to get pregnant on purpose.

Nobody should be happy or support this type of behavior. It is very disturbing.

If these same girls unbeknownst to each other got pregnant and kept their babies this wouldn't even be a story. It would have been a blip on the radar screen.

With that said, of course I am glad these girls will be going to full-term with their pregnancies.

What horrible message is it that the pro-life community is sending?

Posted by: Anonymous at June 27, 2008 3:39 PM


Anonymous was me.
Sorry.
Sandy

Posted by: Sandy at June 27, 2008 3:41 PM


Sandy - apparently you didn't read Lauren's post. She had her first baby at 17. She's on #3 now, and from the sounds of it, is doing wonderfully.

These girls were ages 15-17. Unless you want to assert that Lauren has "no understanding" of being a Mom and that she has "ridiculous" fantasies, your post doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

Many of the moms I dealt with didn't get pregnant on purpose, but when push came to shove, they did the best they could. They kept their children, and prepared to be loving, prepared mothers. And if you don't think people should be rallying behind them with every ounce of engery they have, then I'm not sure how you qualify as pro life.

Posted by: Amanda at June 27, 2008 4:12 PM


Per Amanda:
"These girls were ages 15-17. Unless you want to assert that Lauren has "no understanding" of being a Mom and that she has "ridiculous" fantasies, your post doesn't make a whole lot of sense."

Amanda,
I am offended that you brought Lauren into my post and that you would assert that I think Lauren has ridiculous fantasies. I highly doubt Lauren got pregnant with her 17 best friends as a "pact" and decided to raise their children together. I am happy for Lauren that she decided to make the decision to be a parent. She sounds very responsible.

I just attended the graduation party of my cousins last daughter who is going off to college this fall. He and his wife had their first child at age 18 and are the best parents I know. They have raised three beautiful daughters that we are all very proud of. They just legally adopted one of their daughters best friends who was seeking loving caring supportive parents to be in her life.

My mother-in-law got pregnant and married at age 16 and raised three wonderful and sucessful sons. I admire her for the decisions she has made in her life.

Lauren obviously loves being a mom and I am respectful of her thoughtful decisions. I hardly think you can classify Lauren with the group of girls in this story. How insulting on your part.


Per Amanda:
"Many of the moms I dealt with didn't get pregnant on purpose, but when push came to shove, they did the best they could. They kept their children, and prepared to be loving, prepared mothers. And if you don't think people should be rallying behind them with every ounce of engery they have, then I'm not sure how you qualify as pro life."

Amanda,
You just helped make my point. Yes, I would assume the vast majority of teenage girls don't get pregnant on purpose. (Unlike the girls in this story) And I am happy they made the decisions to continue their pregnancies.
I do think people should rally behind them with support and energy to help and support them as I stated in my post. I do donate to crisis pregnancy centers and plan to volunteer at one starting next fall.

I will post my comment again.
"With that said, of course I am glad these girls will be going to full-term with their pregnancies."

You just seem to really be trying to stretch an anti pro-life message here that just does not exist.

I am questioning your qualifications to counsel young women given the fact that you seem to support teenagers making a pregnancy pact, seeking out homeless strange adult men to inseminize themselves just for the giddy pleasure of "being one of the group"
Do you honestly support this behavior Amanda?

There seems to be a much bigger story behind this story that must be told and I am sure will be told as this story continues to unfold.


Posted by: Sandy at June 27, 2008 5:30 PM


Lauren: I hope your doctor's visit goes well.
Was it difficult to find a new doctor?

Posted by: Patricia at June 27, 2008 6:00 PM


Yep. Amanda, I'd just like to start out by congratulating you on the place. Will you be "living in sin" there, or will it be a honeymoon suite? The father of BOTH of my children and I lived sinfully for quite some time both before and after the birth of our daughter, and the peaceful, quiet times when it was just the two of us are fondly remembered. Enjoy. :)

I think this whole issue is just a misunderstanding. i mean, I think it's great that these girls are now doing the right thing by their kids (hopefully). However, the fact that they selfishly thought about nothing but their want for a child, with little regard for the circumstances of that child or their own well-being is not a good sign. They obviously didn't care about their own health, because they went out and had unprotected sex with random strangers, which we all know is wreckless behaviour, and immediately raises (and should raise) red flags for most people when it comes to the responsibility level of these girls. What if they decide they'd get more love/affection/attention with a puppy instead of a baby, and that a baby gets in the way of this goal? If they could show such a lack of interest in their own health and welfare, I doubt they would be more concerned with someone else's when push comes to shove, even if that person happens to be their child. I really do worry about these girls, mostly because of their obviously unrealistic goals and ideas. Other than the physical discomfort, being pregnant is kind of nice. You do get a certain amount of attention. But once you have that baby, and it's nothing but taking care of that baby morning, noon, and night, things change. Given the unrealistic expectations of these girls, and their questionable motives for what they've done in the first place, I do question the safety of their babies. I'm not saying that ALL young parents are terrible and bad and bad things will certainly happen to them and their children. I'm saying that we should keep a close eye on these girls because the REASONS they did what they did, and HOW they went about it are questionable.

Also, I think it's rather reprehensible how the mayor has made the principle-who I'm certain knows more about this situation than the mayor ever will just by virtue of actually being there-out to be some senile nutjob just to further her agenda.

Posted by: xalisae at June 27, 2008 6:39 PM


*principal, I mean. my sinus medicine isn't agreeing with my grammar.

Posted by: xalisae at June 27, 2008 6:46 PM


Ugh, well my appointment went fine from the "judge the young mother" aspect.

The only issue was that I had to wait 3 hours! An hour and a half of that time was spent wearing a paper sheet...good times!

Of course, by the time I actually saw the doctor my mind was mush and all questions I had flew out the window.

A woman happened to come into the office in labor right as I was about to be seen, so I don't really hold it against the doctor, but it was still a not-so-great first impression.

It looks like not all of my medical records made the switch and because my LMP doesn't line up with my first ultrasound they're having to do a bit of digging to figure out exactly when I'm due. Of course, I could have (and did) tell them that my due date has been August 11 since I was 8 weeks pregnant, but apparantly they can't trust a patient to accurately report that type of information. *sigh*

Anyways, they're checking with my doctor and then we're going to scheadule my c-section. Because my babies tend to like hanging out on their backs, this one is still transverse and thus an instant c-section per this practice's guidelines.

If I go into labor anytime between now and my scheaduled date, they're going to do an emergency c-section.

I'm a little bummed, but I really don't have time to find another doctor with a different policy, so it looks like c-section it is.

As for finding this doctor, it was a NIGHTMARE. The doctor my OB in Ft. Worth recommended wasn't accepting new patients so I had to pick a doctor out of my insurance booklet. Because of some jurisdiction issues, I wasn't able to actually see a doctor until now. Basically, I went four weeks between seeing my doctor in Ft. Worth and seeing this new doc in Austin.

They were only one of two doctors in network for my plan that were accepting new patients, and I liked this practice set up better than the other doc's. So now I'm pretty much locked into them for the (short) duration.

*phew*

Anyways, as for how I was treated with my first son, it was pretty much with across the board with disdain.

First of all, I had alot of pro-choice people tell me that I *had* to abort. I had one go so far as to say they were going to *make* me. After I got several poor prenatal test results, this pressure became even more intense.

I also had issue with people not listening to what I was telling them about the situation. They saw that I was 17 and just assumed that I was a highschool drop-out. I had to constantly say something along the lines of "I graduated highschool at 16, and I have a summer birthday, but I'm actually a college student and my husband and I were quite open to this conception."

Of course, this was met with much the same disdain as if I had said "well, I'm a highschool drop out who accidently got knocked up," but at least I felt better about the situation.

After my son was born I experienced varying levels of condesention. Some of the NICU nurses treated my husband and I with open hostility, while others were wonderful and supportive. Overall I'm sure they all thought we were foolish, but some were better at hiding it than others.

Even though I am incredibly happy with our decision and I love my son, I am still incredibly self-concious about how we are perceived.

While my situation is quite different than the young women in Mass, I do understand the social stigma of being a young mother. I don't know any of them personally, or even anything about them, but I think it is very unfair to lump all young mothers into either "slut" or "idiot". I also think it's unfair to assume that none of them had any concept of what it is like to be a parent.

I will say that it is unlikely they have the same grasp on the realities of parenting as someone their age might have 60 years ago, but then the same could be said of most parents in their 20's or 30's. We just aren't around babies that much anymore as a society.

The fact that these girls made a deal to get pregnant shows their immaturity, but I don't think it means that they are all doomed to be horrible parents.

Posted by: lauren at June 27, 2008 7:33 PM


Hi Lauren,
I hope all goes well with your new clinic and delivery of your baby! I had a friend who was told by her dr. that her baby was due one month after her own calculated due date. She went into labor prematurely. While she was in early labor, the nurses in the hospital brought her husband around the NICU to see what babies look like at the getational age theirs would be delivered at. They just wanted them to be prepared for what was to lie ahead.

When my friend delivered, their baby was about four weeks further along than they thought and the drs. admitted they calculated the due date 1 month off. My friend had been correct from the beginning.

I failed to add in my previous post that I don't think ANYONE is truly prepared to know and understand what it is to be a mother until you birth and care for a child. It is scary, wonderful, challenging and beautiful all at the same time. It is an experience unlike anything anyone could imagine.

A friend of mine who is a lactation specialist said that many of the young teenage mothers she meets with are very impressive with their mothering skills and show more maturity than that of some college educated professional women she meets with.

One woman in her mid 30's came in, was upset and just blurted out "what am I supposed to do with this thing", nice huh??

Hormones can play a major role in emotions at that time, and breast feeding isn't as easy as you think, but this woman in particular made her uneasy.

Posted by: Sandy at June 27, 2008 7:55 PM


Sorry, I meant to say "birth and/or care for a child of their own."

Posted by: Sandy at June 27, 2008 8:06 PM


Thankfully my date is only variable within about a week, so regardless of how far along I actually am, I'm far enough that the baby would be fine.


I was lucky enough to have a really good lactation consultant, but because of his prematurity my son was never able to nurse directly from the breast and my milk dried up before he was mature enough to really try.

Of course, that is another thing people tend to get *very* judgemental about. I remember one day after a doctors appt we stopped in to get some food at a "family dining" type place. I was giving my son his bottle when Mrs. Breast Nazi came waltzing by and said "Don't you *know* that formula is BAD...no good mother would give her child formula!" I explained that I was not able to nurse and that my milk had dried up and her response was "That's just an excuse, if you would have tried harder, you could have nursed."

I just stared at her blankly. You see, I was in a car accident 3 days after my son was born and I had extensive trauma to my left breast where the seatbelt crossed. My milk had just come in, and it immediately went down on that side. A few days later my milk had almost completely stopped and I took Reglan and pumped around the clock to try to get it up. In the end, I had just enough to sustain my son for two months, but absolutely no more. Of course, Mrs. Breast Nazi didn't know or care about any of this, she just wanted to point out that I was a bad mother.

While I'm sure we all know that breast is best, formula is very good and will give the baby everything they need. I think it's really unfair to burden women with feelings of being an unfit, failure of a mother simply because they don't breast feed.


Posted by: lauren at June 27, 2008 9:27 PM


Hey Lauren,
My friend who had two children before I had my first laughed and told me to be prepared because once you have a child you will feel guilty for the rest of your life.....you can never do enough to please everyone especially your children.

I recently met a woman who was expecting her first grandchild. She said her daugter was in tears a couple weeks ago because her friends were on her case for not finding out the sex of their baby.

I love the inconsiderate people (men and women alike) who can't wait to tell a first time mom how horrible labor and delivery is. Women love to tell their award winning worst labor stories.
Even people I didn't know from waitresses to store clerks to men in my office felt it was necessary to inform me of their stories in the delivery room.

I vowed never to do that to anyone.

Posted by: Sandy at June 27, 2008 9:55 PM


lauren: Good luck to you. Regarding the funny looks from people because you are pregnant and young...if I were in your place, I would buy the biggest, flashiest, cubic zirconia wedding ring I could find and then sit back and watch as people stare! :)

Posted by: Janet at June 27, 2008 10:53 PM


Lauren: I am sorry that you had to suffer through all of that and endure other people voicing their opinions about breastfeeding. You are correct - it certainly is one of those things that moms feel very strongly about.
I use to be a LaLeche League Leader so I know it can be very difficult in many situations to BF. Only my son (figures!) was the easy nurser. My dad use to say to me that he thought babies just knew how to nurse. He was amazed at all the difficulties that could arise, some of them beyond our control.
While I'm sure we all know that breast is best, formula is very good and will give the baby everything they need. I think it's really unfair to burden women with feelings of being an unfit, failure of a mother simply because they don't breast feed.

Posted by: lauren at June 27, 2008 9:27 PM

Touche, ma cherie! You are a great mom and the best mom for YOUR baby. Don't you forget it! God bless you!

Posted by: Patricia at June 28, 2008 9:13 AM


Lauren,

It's nice to hear from you again, congratulations on your new baby...

Posted by: Jasper at June 28, 2008 10:05 AM


Lauren,

I think you comments are very inspirational.

Some people who think they are tolerant are only tolerant of those they agree with.

I think there is something seriously wrong when some in society think less of a woman who loves children.

Your kids are some of the luckiest on the planet.

Posted by: hippie at June 30, 2008 2:19 PM


Why should a school official even be involved?

These were personal decisions made by the students.

Why should a school principal have anything to do with students' sex lives?

This is ouside the realm of school administration. Neither schools nor school officials have any say in the sexual conduct of students when they are not in school or at school functions.

Certainly they can't have a policy restricting students right to have their own ideas, relationships and associations.

What are they supposed to do?

Are they going to have a rule against students wishing to become pregnant?

Posted by: hippie at June 30, 2008 2:27 PM


Why should a school principal have anything to do with students' sex lives?

Maybe they shouldn't.

This is ouside the realm of school administration. Neither schools nor school officials have any say in the sexual conduct of students when they are not in school or at school functions.

Then there probably shouldn't be health clinics on school grounds either.

THANK GOD I'm a Catholic School parent, extra tuition and all!

Posted by: Janet at June 30, 2008 5:45 PM