And today, based on the thin evidence most media outlets have seen, Julie is being described as an incompetent teacher. In looking much deeper at some still to be made public documents and professional opinions, Julie's behavior in the classroom is more professional than the behavior of all of the peers who participated in her conviction. Julie did more, and heroically so, than any other person in that building - all of whom will live with this shame the rest of their lives.
Today when I think of incompetence I think about technical staff, the administrators, the school teachers, the police, the prosecutor, the judge, the jury, and the community at large. These are the players whose behavior and unconscionable negligence and indifference drains us all of our humanity.
In another blog, My Left Nutmeg, author Maura interviews Julie,
Julie's case really hit home with me, having taught in public schools for nearly a decade. I know that substitute teachers usually get no technology training at all. For the Norwich community to have overreacted so insanely over a handful of 7th graders seeing a few flashes of naked bodies on the screen of a computer that Julie had no responsibility for seems like a cartoonish modern day witch-hunt to me, fed by hysteria over risks to minors from the internet, widespread ignorance about technology, and sensationalism in the media about the handful of women teachers nationally who have been accused or convicted of having sex with students.The loss of Julie's baby is a murder committed by professionals who don't deserve the privilege of being treated as such.
I spoke with Julie and Wes Volle, her husband, after I saw that someone had started a blog in her name. Wes and Julie confirmed that this site is legitimate and that they have started a legal defense fund for Julie. I invited Julie and Wes to live-blog with us here at MLN, which they agreed to do soon.
Talking with Julie, I found her version of events to be believable and heartwrenching. She and Wes hope to appeal her conviction, but are struggling just to pay their mortgage with their existing legal bills and Julie unable to work. They've contacted a number of attorneys about the case but have not yet found expert counsel willing to take the case pro bono or at any cost that would be affordable to them. At the end of our hour-long conversation, I attempted to lighten the mood by asking about her baby. After all, I had read in news and blog reports that she was pregnant at the time of the incident, and I assumed her baby would be one of few happy aspects of Julie's life.
Well, I really put my foot in it. Experiencing overwhelming stress after her arrest on felony charges, Julie miscarried. To make this tragedy even worse, Julie had been fighting infertility for years, and after investing thousands of dollars in fertility treatments, this was the only time Julie and Wes had succeeded in conceiving. Two years after losing that much-wanted pregnancy, Julie and Wes can barely afford to keep their home much less pay for fertility treatments. They have given up on their dream of children and are simply hoping to keep Julie out of prison in the short term and clear her record on appeal in the long term.
Raising awareness about Julie's case and her legal defense fund is one way we can help.
The inability of Wes and Julie to pay their bills robs us of good neighbors and healthy community.
The draining of their incomes and ability to save is the homicide of hope that some adoptable child has that a Wes and Julie can rescue them from a life of having no parents.
Make no mistake about it. This is a homocide that is killing all of us.