With Father's Day weekend approaching, this week’s news of the Texas father who beat to death his 4-year-old daughter’s alleged molester has spread like wildfire. No names have been released, but as the story goes, the 23-year-old father learned from his young son that his daughter had been led away on their property by a family acquaintance. The dad heard the daughter’s screams and discovered her and a 47-year-old acquaintance both partially naked in or near a horse barn. The father repeatedly beat the man in the head, leading to his death.
The father hasn’t been arrested because Texas law permits violence to defend oneself or a third party. But a grand jury will still examine the case to get all the facts straight. The dad has reportedly expressed remorse and said he didn’t intend to kill the alleged attacker. The public has widely rallied around the father – “good for him,” “father of the year,” “instant justice,” “I would’ve done the same!” – but a Texas civil rights leader is asking “where do we draw the line in self defense?” (i.e. – should someone repeatedly beat an attacker when a punch or two might have stopped the attack?).
I’m not a big fan of violence and vigilante justice, but this doesn’t seem to be about those things to me. The father wasn’t acting so much in the eyes of the law or as a macho man in a silly bar fight. He was acting out of instinct (mingled with fury, for sure) to protect his helpless child. Where would a parent with their harmed child at their side draw the line -- two punches? Five? In the head? In the gut? ... Especially assuming it became a two-way brawl.
Knowing what we know from the media, I’m glad the dad hasn’t been charge with a crime. That said, I’m also glad a court will consider the case. The media are not always purveyors of truth, and everyone, living or dead, deserves to have their legal story fairly examined. Who knows? Maybe unknown victims of the alleged molester will emerge and get the help they deserve.
It’s hard to even imagine the sickening scenario of discovering your child being abused, but would you or your partner act in the same way as this “hero” dad?
I hope you never need these, but here are some resources on dealing with physical and sexual abuse. Also, here are some tips for teaching your child about stranger safety – especially important during the unstructured summer months.