Thursday, April 22, 2010

Shea Shares Light With You

This story from the Columbus Dispatch breaks my heart.  It should remind all of us, who are parents about what really counts; hint, it's not money, or prestige, or achievement, or righteousness.  This is from Holly Zachariah's account:

The judge didn't wear his robe yesterday, and no one addressed him as 'Your Honor.'  Instead, Union County Common Pleas Judge Don Fraser sat in the back of his own courtroom, wearing a suit. And the shackled and handcuffed defendant turned and called him 'Dad.'  Sumner Walters, a visiting judge appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court after Fraser stepped off the case, sat behind the bench and presided over the hearing for Fraser's 19-year-old daughter, Shea.

Shea Fraser, caught in a heroin sting in October, pleaded guilty on Feb. 11 to trafficking in heroin and possession of heroin, both fifth-degree felonies. In exchange for her plea, two other felony heroin charges were dropped.  Yesterday, Walters sentenced her to intensive probation and ordered her into Allen County's drug court, which removes the responsibility for monitoring the case from her father's court.

Judge Fraser said after the hearing that his daughter's longtime battle with drug addiction has changed him.

He has spent his retirement fund and his savings to send her to private treatment centers in Utah and in California. He hired private counselors, immersed himself in the treatment culture and attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings himself to learn all he can.  Now, he is committed to starting his own drug court by July, and he has applied for a state grant to help fund it. If that money doesn't come through, he will at least hire a coordinator with funds from his current court budget.

He said he recognizes that few who come through his court have the opportunity for treatment like his daughter's.  Ultimately, a strong system of accessible treatment will benefit the entire community, he said.  'I have now seen the gaps, the holes. If this court can provide a safety net, a longer-term solution to the drugs that are the root of the problem of so much of the crime in this community, then we are compelled to try and do that.' He remains impartial on the cases he hears, he said, but admits he now comes to work each day with wider eyes and a broader perspective.

'I am heartbroken by the choices Shea has made, just as I've always been heartbroken by the choices the people who come before me have made. But in the end, they are their choices, and I will hold them responsible.'

Fraser wept as his daughter turned to address her parents in court.

'This isn't because of the way I was raised,' she told them. 'Mom and Dad, you are really, really good people, and you don't deserve everything I've put you through.'

Allen County Prosecutor Juergen Waldick, who handled the case instead of the local prosecutor, said Shea Fraser has a long history of abusing almost every kind of drug but had no criminal record until now.

Fraser said that just as he hopes his new drug court will change lives, he hopes his daughter takes the second chance she has been offered.
There is so much tragedy inthe world.  Here, in the face of loss and tragedy, a glimmer of light that I feel honored to share with you.  Perhaps, Shea and her father, have transformed darkness into light.  Those tears in my eyes are for all of our children.  My tears are for the lost and lonely child in you and me.


  1. Nice site, very informative. I like to read this.,it is very helpful in my part for my criminal law studies.

  2. Thank you for your comment, this is a especially compelling story for me since I too have a daughter in this age bracket.


  3. It is encouraging to see that something positive can come out of such devastation. The heroin epidemic does not discriminate as this story shows. Recovery is possible though and hopefully opening up more drug courts will help many to be rehabilitated.

  4. Heroin addiction is heartbreaking for the families who are affected by it. I applaud this judge for using his position to try to help other addicts and their families who are affected in the same way he has been.