Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Sean O'Toole Is Dead
I was sent this link by a friend who thinks I may have known Sean O'Toole; he looks familiar. But I did not know him. The article by Donna J. Miller from Cleveland.com which is the website of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, grabbed my attention for another reason, let me quote from it:
"A former assistant Medina County public defender convicted for sharing child pornography on the Internet was found hanging by a sheet last week in his cell at the Ashtabula County Jail.
Sean O'Toole, 42, faced up to 20 years in federal prison. He would have been sentenced Jan. 26. His body was found at 5:35 a.m. Thursday in his one-man cell, Ashtabula County Coroner's Chief Investigator Rich Mongell said. O'Toole was not on suicide watch and gave no indication that he had become suicidal, Mongell said. The body was sent to the Cuyahoga County Coroner's Office, which had not yet sent the findings to the Ashtabula coroner, who will make a formal ruling. O'Toole pleaded guilty in September to sending and receiving pornographic photographs and videos. Federal records show that his computer held many sexually-explicit images of infants and children being sexually-abused and raped. His Internet screen name was Daddy4slut. Investigators searched O'Toole's Lakewood home on May 22 after a five-month investigation that began when O'Toole used an Internet site set up by an FBI agent that allowed file sharing, according to an affidavit filed seeking the search warrant.
In September, O'Toole wrote a letter to a judge accepting responsibility for his actions. 'One of my biggest regrets in all of this is that I may be responsible for exposing someone to child porn that is now as obsessive as I was,' O'Toole wrote. 'When I was arrested, I had a family. Now I don't... I used to think I was an honorable man. Now I realize I am neither. Not honorable, or a man.' O'Toole's former attorney, James Kersey, was saddened when he learned of the death. 'He was a nice, pleasant, intelligent guy,' Kersey said. 'He must have felt the sentence was so severe, so steep that he had nowhere to go and took his own life.'"
I think attorney Kersey is wrong, I don't think the length of the the prospective prison sentence had anything to do with Sean O'Toole hanging himself. Something in what O'Toole wrote the Judge is telling me that this poor bastard had a heart, a soul, and a conscience. He knew who he was; he knew what he was; and, he could not figure a way to transcend his horror.
This was a lawyer. I see myself as a lawyer, a father, a domestic partner (for the blonde Super Lawyer,) the magnitude of my professional/personal disaster is different than O'Toole's. He was the sort of person I pursued as a lawyer--and, yet I feel a strong connection through his words--"not honorable, or a man."
I had lunch downtown, yesterday--with a colleague to discuss going back to work, "in house." The lunch was in the restaurant in my old office building which meant I had to drive downtown, see and walk by people I know and worked with for a quarter century. By this time in the unfolding of events, my "fall," is public knowledge and doubtless fodder for the kind of gossip I listened to before it was my turn to be disgraced. I saw the partner of the lawyer who sent my bank statements to disciplinary counsel. I ran into a married couple who long practiced law together in OurTown--they hugged me and told me that the 24 months would speed by--and I'd be back. I ran into Dick Ahole, who wanted to pump me for information. "So what are you going to do now?," he asked. I shrugged my shoulders.
Sunday, my son and I saw Avatar which has a protagonist a paraplegic veteran. The best part of this move apart from the innovative visuals turns on the transcendence of this paraplegic into another life form. This same theme was played out for me earlier in the week when I heard Terry Gross on Fresh Air replay her interview with Teddy Pendergrass, the great Philly soul singer who died last week. Pendergrass was one of the SEX SYMBOLS of his time, as lead singer of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, and later as a solo peroformer. In his prime Pendergrass survived a devastating car accident, quadriplegia and suicidal depression. Pendergrass said he survived his devastating physical injury after he held a mock funeral for himself on the advice of a psychologist who was also a quadriplegic. Pendergrass told Terry Gross, that he was able to transcend his injury and become a new man--a highly successful entertainer until he death last week.
Sean O'Toole is dead. He had been an attorney; and, clearly he was mentally ill. After his disgrace, he saw no way to transcend who and what he had become. He could not live with the disgrace. But in his final words to the Judge, "nor honorable, or a man"--maybe, just maybe, Sean O'Toole regained a little honor and some of his manhood. I write about a lot of shitheads on this blawg, very few of them have "shame," which to my way of thinking has something to do with honor and manhood. Rest in peace, Sean O'Toole.