Sherrie Gavan’s son became addicted to heroin. She knew where he was getting the drugs and she took that information to the local police.
In spite of her efforts, nothing was done. She managed to get her son away from his source, got him clean and kept him close to her, to watch over him and safeguard his sobriety – but the supplier kept calling.
Finally, in desperation, Sherrie Gavan confronted the young man her son identified to be his supplier and when she felt threatened, swung a bat and hit him in the arm – twice. It wasn’t hard. He wasn’t brutally injured, hardly even bruised and it seemed to finally drive home the point that he needed to stay away from her son.
Still, the state of Missouri, more specifically the prosecuting attorney of Jefferson County, felt Gavan’s actions were so heinous that she was charged with assault.
A jury of her peers found Gavan guilty of third degree misdemeanor assault; a crime punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail.
It was a long wait from the day of her verdict to sentencing and there was worry that the fullness would be visited upon her. Last week, her day in court finally arrived.
Jefferson County Judge Timothy Miller admonished Gavan “In a vigilante system, there is no justice, only vengeance” but went on to state that it would serve no purpose to incarcerate her and that he felt she was “an asset to the community”.
In the end, Gavan was given two years parole and a suspended sentence. As long as Gavan follows the letter of the law while on parole, eventually, even the sentence of third degree assault will even be erased from her record.
Gavan was later interviewed and asked if she regretted what she did. Gavan did not answer admitting that what she did was wrong – but the end result is clear her son is alive today perhaps because of her actions.
Her son, Clayton Gavan, was more direct and stated that watching his mother in court, defending herself because of what she did to protect him, has helped him to stay clean. Whether her measures will spur others to take a new tack and grab a bat to defend their children from drug dealers remains to be seen.
One could argue that small time thugs, who are using just as much as they are selling, might be intimidated by such a tactic, but more hardened types, serious drug dealers, might fight back with more than a trip to the sheriff’s office.
It is a good point and worth serious consideration.
Although some will argue she should, Sherrie Gavan will probably not receive the Mother of the Year Award this year. But she has her family and her freedom is now more or less assured.
In a country that is increasingly filled with maddening contradiction, knee jerk overreaction and mixed messages, the final outcome is a breath of fresh air. It seems that someone out there believes that, in spite of it all, a mother still has the right to defend her child.
Every day we see story after story of parents whose children are ripped from their arms because government seeks to substitute it’s own judgment for a parent’s abiding love and devotion; and we see children traumatically scarred as a result.
While the Melissa Harris-Perry’s of the world say our children belong to the community, it was the mother who stepped forward and put herself, and her freedom, in harm’s way when the community, who had ultimately more resources than she, could or would not.
With two swings of a bat, Gavan’s actions speak volumes for the failure of Perry’s message, demonstrating the community’s overall detachment towards the children Perry claims belong to it, and reaffirms the responsible parent’s love for their child; that the proper place for a child is not by the side of apathetic community, but in the arms of parents who are willing to sacrifice everything to keep their child safe.