Trial no easy topic for anyone

Date: 2008-06-11

Trial no easy topic for anyone

The murder trial of Lynn Paddock, accused of killing her 4-year-old adopted son in 2006, has been a strong reminder to some of us in this business that, underneath our media personas, we’re as human as anyone else.

The case has been a subject of much discussion over the past several weeks as we’ve read stories by Mandy Locke, our colleague at The News & Observer, who is covering the trial. We’ve paid close attention to the testimony of Paddock’s adopted children, who have told jurors about her abusive behavior towards them.

The children have testified that Paddock robbed them of food for days, forbid them from talking, and punished them in extreme ways. Sean Paddock, the youngest of Lynn Paddock’s adoptive children, died after he was wrapped so tightly in blankets that he couldn’t breathe. It was a tactic some say Lynn Paddock might have gleaned from the teachings of Michael Pearl, a controversial evangelical pastor from Tennessee.

As the trial has continued, we’ve often wondered how anyone could be so cruel. We’ve asked ourselves what would possess anyone to want to have children if they only intended to harm them. And we’ve debated how it could be possible for these children to have come to such an abusive home in the first place.

The horrific events that reportedly took place inside the Paddock home have troubled us just as much as they might trouble anyone. They even caused some of us to cry.

We have also wondered about Lynn Paddock’s then-husband, Johnny. It seems bizarre that a father, even one who traveled frequently on business, could be unaware of his eldest son reportedly being strapped to a bed for weeks and forced to urinate and defecate all over himself. Or of his daughter being beaten so brutally with plumbing pipe that her entire backside turned black and blue.

His children — and the social workers who interviewed them after Sean’s death — have testified that Mr. Paddock was aware of at least some of his ex-wife’s actions.

It will be up to a jury to decide whether Lynn Paddock knew her actions would lead to her youngest son’s death.

We hope that those charged with enforcing the law and promoting justice will do all they can to seek justice for a little boy whose world seemed to lack it.

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