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Homecoming bullying prank turns to civic support of victim Whitney Kropp

A homecoming prank and its outcome breaks hearts and then warms them: Bullying victim Whitney Kropp was nominated for homecoming court as a joke, but her small town rallies around her.

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Jennifer Sheehan Was ‘Relieved’ When Mom Killed Dad

July 17, 2012
 

When Jennifer Joyce Sheehan’s mother killed her father, she was relieved.

“He was such a monster in all of our lives,” Sheehan told ABCNews.com. “I was always so afraid that he was going to kill my mom. It’s such a relief that he’s gone.”

Barbara Sheehan killed her husband, retired New York police officer Raymond Sheehan, as he shaved in the bathroom on the morning of Feb. 18, 2008. She shot him 11 times after suffering years of violent abuse and threats from him.

“My mom would never hurt anybody,” Jennifer Sheehan said. “He [Raymond Sheehan] would say it all the time—that he was going to kill her, us, the rest of the family. If she didn’t protect herself, he would have not only killed her, but the rest of us, too.”

But after the relief wore off, Jennifer Sheehan, 26, and her brother Raymond Sheehan, 22, faced another terrifying reality—the possibility that they could lose their mother to life in prison for murder.

The siblings tell their mother’s story in their new book, “In Bed with the Badge: The Barbara Sheehan Story,” available today.

“We were stunned,” Raymond Sheehan writes in the book. “It all happened so fast that for a moment I lost my equilibrium. I felt as though I had been spun around a hundred times, then forced to stand still and walk.”

When the case went to trial in 2011, Jennifer and Raymond Sheehan stood by their mother and testified against their father.

The siblings are part of a long line of children who have watched their parents go through high-profile trials.

Just this year, the children of ex-Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, two-time presidential candidate John Edwards and legendary pitcher Roger Clemens have been subjected to the grueling and invasive ordeal of watching their fathers go through trials.

But what effect does the trial process have on these offspring, both young and older, especially in highly publicized and scrutinized cases?

“You have the parents undergoing a huge stressor and the child trying to cope with how that affects them and their world,” Dr. Alan Kazdin, a professor at the Yale University department of psychology, told ABCNews.com. “The fallout could be huge.”

The stress is the first thing Jennifer Sheehan recalls from her mother’s trial.

“Just being there for the short amount of time that I was, listening to closing arguments and a couple of people testifying, waiting for the jury’s decision—the anxiety is just through the roof,” she said. “There’s no way to describe it. You don’t even really have feelings. You’re so anxious, you’re so scared.”

Barbara Sheehan was charged with second-degree murder and two gun possession charges. She faced 25 years to life in prison, but was acquitted of murder and one of the gun charges. She could still face jail time for the second gun charge. Jennifer Sheehan was 25 years old during the trial in Queens, N.Y. and Raymond Sheehan was 22.

Jennifer Sheehan said that one of the most painful parts of the trial was being shocked by the lies she felt her father’s side of the family told in court.

She said that in the time leading up to her father’s death, her mother had told his family that things were really bad and that she needed their help. Jennifer Sheehan said her father’s family shut them out and testified in court that nothing was wrong with their son.

To read the full article visit: http://abcnews.go.com/US/jennifer-sheehan-relieved-mom-killed-dad/story?id=16786930#.UAWTLXB0TE5

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Children of NYC mom who killed husband pen book

Children of NYC mom who killed husband pen  book

COLLEEN LONG, Associated Press

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  • FILE - In this Sept. 23, 2011 file photo, Raymond Sheehan, the son of Barbara Sheehan, leaves a New York courtroom as proceedings in his mother’s murder trial break for the day.  Believing that she shot and killed Raymond’s abusive father in self-defense, the jury went on to acquit his mother on the murder charge. Raymond and his sister, Jennifer, have written a book about their mother’s ordeal entitled, “In Bed With the Badge: The Barbara Sheehan Story.” The book will be published Tuesday, July 17, 2012, through Changing Lives Press, and also as an e-book. Photo: Rick Maiman / AP
    FILE – In this Sept. 23, 2011 file photo, Raymond  Sheehan, the son of Barbara Sheehan, leaves a New York courtroom as proceedings  in his mother’s murder trial break for the day.  Believing that she shot and  killed Raymond’s abusive father in self-defense, the jury went on to acquit his  mother on the murder charge. Raymond and his sister, Jennifer, have written a  book about their mother’s ordeal entitled, “In Bed With the Badge: The Barbara  Sheehan Story.” The book will be published Tuesday, July 17, 2012, through  Changing Lives Press, and also as an e-book. Photo: Rick Maiman /  AP
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    FILE – In this  Sept. 23, 2011 file photo, Raymond Sheehan, the son…

  • FILE - In this Sept. 23, 2011 file photo, Barbara Sheehan leaves a New York courtroom as her trial breaks for the day. Sheehan, who was accused of fatally shooting her retired police officer husband, was eventually acquitted of murder when the jury believed that she shot him in self-defense. Sheehan’s adult children have written a book about their mother’s ordeal entitled, “In Bed With the Badge: The Barbara Sheehan Story.” The book will be published Tuesday, July 17, 2012, through Changing Lives Press, and also as an e-book. Photo: Rick Maiman / AP
    FILE – In this Sept. 23, 2011 file photo, Barbara  Sheehan leaves a New York courtroom as her trial breaks for the day. Sheehan,  who was accused of fatally shooting her retired police officer husband, was  eventually acquitted of murder when the jury believed that she shot him in  self-defense. Sheehan’s adult children have written a book about their mother’s  ordeal entitled, “In Bed With the Badge: The Barbara Sheehan Story.” The book  will be published Tuesday, July 17, 2012, through Changing Lives Press, and also  as an e-book. Photo: Rick Maiman / AP
    FILE – In this  Sept. 23, 2011 file photo, Barbara Sheehan leaves a…

NEW YORK (AP) — Jennifer and Raymond  Sheehan say their lives changed forever — for the better — the day their  mother shot their retired police officer father to death.

Neither witnessed the shooting  on Feb. 18, 2008. When they got the call, they expected to hear that their  mother was dead. They figured her end was only a matter of time after years of  physical and emotional abuse at the hands of their father, Raymond Sr.

So when Raymond Jr. learned it  was his dad who was dead, he felt an immense relief. “Like a weight lifted off  my shoulders,” he said.

But there was more stress to  come. Their mother, Barbara, would be tried for murder and their family’s dark,  disturbing secrets would be cracked open in court.

Less than a year after Barbara  Sheehan was acquitted for fatally shooting her husband 11 times at their  Queens home, her children have published a book about the ordeal.

“In Bed With the Badge: The  Barbara Sheehan Story” goes on sale Tuesday. It details her life and descent  into abuse and despair, and includes notes and recollections from Raymond and  Jennifer and from family friends who witnessed the abuse.

The two siblings said they  focused the account on their mother — and not their own experience — because  they hoped her story would serve as a cautionary tale for other abused women and  help them see the early warning signs.

“Going through everything after  my mom killed my father, living their experiences, we wanted to show other  people the importance of getting out of a bad relationship before it’s too  late,” Raymond Sheehan said in an interview with The  Associated Press.

The 22-year-old took the stand  in his mother’s defense last fall during the trial, which was much more  difficult than writing the book, he said. He was grilled on his childhood and  admitted on the stand that he thought of suicide, telling of horrific memories  where his mother was burned by scalding pasta sauce thrown by his  angry father.

“All the personal stuff came out  in the trial. That was the big thing,” he said. “The book felt  almost easy.”

The trial was brutal for the  family. Jennifer and Raymond took leave from school and from work to be with  their mother, who was out on bail after mortgaging two family homes. Aunts,  uncles, grandparents and friends filled the courtroom seats, many donning purple — the color for domestic violence.

And dirty laundry was aired.  Jurors heard of the elder Raymond’s consistent threats, his physical and verbal  abuse, and bizarre sexual habits he forced on his wife, as Barbara and her  children testified that he created a culture of fear at home. They said they  never told anyone, especially the police, because he said he would kill them if  they did.

Prosecutors argued Barbara was a  woman happy with her life and a willing participant in her husband’s sexual  proclivities. They suggested she killed her husband for money. Friends testified  the couple seemed normal and happy, and they did not suspect anything violent  at home.

But the elder Raymond’s children  said the 49-year-old former police sergeant put on a nicer face for  the public.

In their book, the siblings  explore the question of why their mother would stay with an abusive man for more  than 20 years. They interviewed her about her past and learned of his  manipulative behavior as far back as the first dates.

“I think after this all happened  and she realized how bad the psychological and physical abuse was that she was  going through even then, she started thinking back and realizing ‘Oh, this  wasn’t normal,'” said Jennifer  Sheehan, 26.

The 250-page book includes a  robust appendix. “Domestic Violence, How to get Help, Cops as Abusers and other  statistics” is designed to give readers some helpful tools, Jennifer  Sheehan said.

“We want people to know the  signs of what an abuser is and what they do to control you, even from the very  beginning,” she said.

Raymond is getting married and  will be in graduate school in New York in the fall. Jennifer lives in San Diego  and works as an oncology nurse. Barbara Sheehan, 50, convicted on one weapons  charge and sentenced to 5½ years in prison, is out on bail while appealing  her conviction.

Barbara Sheehan didn’t comment  for this story. Her children said she was happy with the book.

A call to Raymond Sheehan’s  brother Vincent was not returned.

Changing Lives  Press is the book publisher. The book costs $24.99. It also will be  available as an e-book.

Read more: http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Children-of-NYC-mom-who-killed-husband-pen-book-3707075.php#ixzz20jjqjeMC

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In bed with the Badge in the news: Sunday, July 15th, 2012

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In bed with the Badge will be released on July 17th, 2012, Order your copy today @ http://www.amazon.com/In-Bed-Badge-Barbara-Sheehan/dp/0984304711/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1342384169&sr=8-1&keywords=in+bed+with+the+badge

Here are today’s stories:

http://online.wsj.com/article/AP78dbb67f9b8b4bbd8921adbb248663a8.html

http://www.salon.com/2012/07/14/children_of_nyc_mom_who_killed_husband_pen_book/singleton/

http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/2012/07/14/2119775/children-of-nyc-mom-who-killed.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2173556/Barbara-Sheehans-children-write-book-domestic-violence.html

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CHRISTIANITY INCLUDES GAY PRIDE

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The Times-Union (Albany, NY)

June 16, 2012 Saturday  Final Edition EDITION

CHRISTIANITY INCLUDES GAY PRIDE

BYLINE: SHARI JOHNSON

SECTION: RELIGION; Pg. A13

LENGTH: 510 words

The night my 37-year-old daughter Cholene called and told me she is gay, I felt as though the air had been sucked out of the room. I was beyond devastated. I had been an evangelical Christian for more than 30 years and thought that this was the worst thing that could happen — to a parent, to a Christian, to me.

Cholene had given us many reasons to be proud of her. She was a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, the second woman to fly the U-2 spy plane and then a captain for a commercial airline. In my experience, “gay pride” was not on the acceptable list of parental bragging rights.

I begged God to change her. Instead, God changed me.

I had always known that I had a problem with unconditional love, but I thought if I followed all the “rules” and “worked” for God and his kingdom, I would get a pass on the love thing. I didn’t.

In 2004, Cholene emailed me to say that she and her partner were getting married. I didn’t take it well at all. One morning as I was driving to work, I actually asked God, “What event could a parent be asked to attend that would be worse than this?” His answer was short. A funeral. That got my attention.

By the time we arrived in Massachusetts for the wedding, God was already there. I have never felt his presence and love as I did that weekend — perhaps because it was so unexpected. It was then that my heart began to change. I told Cholene that her wedding rocked my world, and my world needed to be rocked.

I have learned since then that Cholene knew she was gay since she was a little girl. She got the message from pastors, Sunday school teachers, Christian leaders and even her parents that she didn’t deserve God’s love. I have agonized over this. People have said, “But you didn’t know she was gay.” What difference does that make? Our behavior was unconscionable, not only as parents, but also as Christians.

Thankfully, she received the message from God himself that he loved her.

I have had a dramatic change of heart since learning of Cholene’s homosexuality. Call it a paradigm shift, an epiphany or just plain coming to my senses. Whatever it was, I know this: God was behind it. I would give anything to have a do-over for those years when we hurt Cholene so terribly, so I’m on a mission to help keep other families from making our mistakes. Our story did not end in tragedy as so many do. But it could have.

I can’t forget where I was before. My thinking is so different now that I find myself being upset with those who aren’t “there” yet. Now, the lessons I have learned about unconditional love for the gay community need to be applied to those who are exactly where I was for so many years.

Love can’t be legislated, politicized, forced or faked. It comes from God. I have said many times that change will come one heart at a time, and only God can change a heart if we will just get out of God’s way.

Johnson is president of the Odessa, Texas, chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. She is author of the memoir “Above All Things” and wrote this column for the Religion News Service.

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Christians can change their minds on homosexuality. I know, because I did.

By: Shari Johnson (Washington Post Article)

When President Obama announced his support of same-sex marriage, I was thrilled. But I also was filled with a sense of dread about the maelstrom that was sure to follow. I knew it was coming because there was a time when I would have been a part of it.

This Friday (June 15), I’ll be at the White House for a reception to mark gay pride month. It’s an event I never thought I would be attending.

The night my 37-year-old daughter Cholene called and told me she is gay, I felt as though the air had been sucked out of the room. I was beyond devastated. I had been an evangelical Christian for more than 30 years and thought that this was the worst thing that could happen — to a parent, to a Christian, to me.

Cholene had given us many reasons to be proud of her — she was a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, the second woman to fly the U-2 spy plane and then a captain for a commercial airline. In my experience, “gay pride” was not on the acceptable list of parental bragging rights.

I begged God to change her. But instead, God changed me.

I had always known that I had a problem with unconditional love, but I thought if I followed all the “rules” and “worked” for God and his Kingdom, I would get a pass on the love thing. I didn’t.

In 2004, Cholene emailed me to say that she and her partner were getting married. I didn’t take it well at all. One morning as I was driving to work, I actually asked God, “What event could a parent be asked to attend that would be worse than this?” His answer was short — a funeral. That got my attention.

By the time we arrived in Massachusetts for Cholene’s wedding, God was already there. I have never felt his presence and love as I did that weekend-perhaps because it was so unexpected. It was then that my heart began to change. I told Cholene that her wedding rocked my world, and my world needed to be rocked.

I have learned since then that Cholene knew she was gay ever since she was a little girl. She got the message from pastors, Sunday school teachers, Christian leaders and even her parents that she was an abomination to God and didn’t deserve his love. I have agonized over this. People have said, “But you didn’t know she was gay.” What difference does that make? Our behavior was unconscionable, not only as parents, but also as Christians.

Thankfully, she received the message from God himself that he loved her.

I have had a dramatic change of heart since first learning of Cholene’s homosexuality. Call it a paradigm shift, an epiphany or just plain coming to my senses. Whatever it was, I know this-God was behind it. I would give anything to have a do-over for those years when we hurt Cholene so terribly, so I’m on a mission to help keep other families from making our mistakes. Our story did not end in tragedy as so many do. But it could have.

I can’t forget where I was before. My thinking is so different now that I find myself being upset with those who aren’t “there” yet. Now, the lessons I have learned about unconditional love for the gay community need to be applied to those who are exactly where I was for so many years.

Love can’t be legislated, politicized, forced or faked. It comes from God. I have said many times that change will come one heart at a time, and only God can change a heart — if we will just get out of God’s way.

(Shari Johnson is the author of the recently published memoir “Above All Things” and serves as the president of the local PFLAG chapter in Odessa, Texas.)

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Universal Uclick.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-faith/christians-can-change-their-minds-on-homosexuality-i-know-because-i-did/2012/06/13/gJQA72PaaV_story.html

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Above All Things on sale tomorrow – June 15, 2012

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Order your copy today of Above All Things!

http://www.amazon.com/Above-All-Things-Evangelical-Christian/dp/0985024801/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1339676701&sr=8-3&keywords=Above+All+Things

About the Book: 

Shari Johnson’s world turned upside down the night her 37-year-old daughter called and told her that she was gay. This just couldn’t be possible. Cholene had always been the hero-Air Force Academy graduate, second woman to fly the U-2 spy plane, captain for United Airlines – she cried, begged, pleaded with God to change Cholene, but he changed Shari instead. It seems that he was much more concerned about Shari’s lack of love than he was about Cholene’s homosexuality. This book is Shari’s personal story.

About the author: 

Shari Johnson’s book, Above All Things, was written as a result of her struggle as an evangelical Christian to come to terms with her daughter’s homosexuality. Through this sometimes gut-wrenching, sometimes humorous, but always honest account of her journey, her desire is to help reconcile families torn apart over this issue. From her example, she hopes that readers will “have more sense than I did.” Shari learned that grudging acceptance was not the same as embracing her daughter Cholene for who she is. She went from devastation to full-on joy when she finally grasped that the most important thing to God is love. It truly is above all things.

After ending a long career as a dental hygienist,Shari Johnson is pursuing her dream as a book editor and writer.

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