Monitor - The News of the World Today: American reactions to the Louise Woodward affair

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The Independent Culture
Eileen McNamara, Boston Globe (US)

IT DIDN'T take Harvey Silverglate, Andrew Good and Barry Scheck long to cut Elaine Whitfield Sharp loose, did it?

The former colleagues of the sacked defence lawyer Whitfield Sharp are not beneath casting aspersions in her direction.

"Unfortunately, Ms Sharp has at times exhibited an aberrant pattern of behaviour,'' Silverglate, Good and Scheck said, in a stunning display of disloyalty that accompanied their announcement that Whitfield Sharp had been fired from the Woodward defence team.

If only they had elaborated. What, we can only wonder, is Harvey Silverglate's idea of "an aberrant pattern of behaviour?''

Could anything Whitfield Sharp has done have been more bizarre than the sight of the wild-eyed Silverglate on national TV accusing some of the world's best doctors of being part of a "child abuse cult'' because they testified to their conviction that Louise Woodward battered Matty Eappen to death?

A fatal case of child abuse has devolved into a game of competitive defamation among a pack of deranged lawyers.

Camille Paglia, Salon Magazine (Internet)

The Eappens obviously exploited their 18-year-old au pair for duties that should have been handled by a mature babysitter or nanny.

Once seething tension erupted with the au pair over her social life, how stupid could parents be to leave their very small children under her supervision?

There was no firm physical evidence that it was Woodward, rather than Matthew's parents, brother, neighbour or family friend, who accidentally or purposefully caused his skull fracture and weeks-old broken wrist.

Indeed, the sometimes homicidal hostility of toddlers toward an infant sibling who displaces them in the family limelight is well established in the annals of psychology. Every possible alternative hypothesis needed to be excluded.

The international focus on the Eappen case (the trial was broadcast in England) is highly embarrassing to the American judicial system.