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Woodward Thursday, 18 June, 1998, 01:31 GMT 02:31 UK
US press slam Woodward
Louise Woodward
Louise Woodward is not best loved by some of the US media
The US media has delivered a mixed verdict on the final chapter - at least in this volume - of the Louise Woodward case.

Where the press has been critical, it has pulled no punches. But other papers picked a broader target - namely the au pair system itself.

New York Post
The New York Post kicks off a vitriolic comment under the headline, "Attention, thugs: To beat the rap, use a fan club".

Journalist Andrea Peyser writes: "Looking to beat that pesky murder rap? Anxious to walk free - perchance, as a hero - soon after slicing, shooting or shaking the life out of innocent folk?

"If you really want to improve your odds of getting sprung from jail, preferably while your victim is still warm, I suggest you follow the lead of Louise Woodward ... Get yourself a fan club.

"When forming an effective Get Out of Jail Free club, it helps if you're a female."

She says Judge Hiller Zobel's decision to free Woodward "despite clear-cut evidence proving the sweet-faced woman shook an eight-month-old baby until his brain turned to mush" has done "irrevocable damage" to the US justice system.

She concludes on an acerbic note, aimed squarely at Woodward.

"The only comfort I can find in the Massachusetts court's horrendous decision to free Louise Woodward is that now, it appears, she'll return to her fan club in merry old Elton, England.

"Let them have her. Maybe then our children will be safe."

Boston Herald
The Boston Herald is kinder with its language, but equally critical of the US justice system.

"A majority of the Supreme Judicial Court agreed that Judge Zobel was well within his rights to reduce Woodward's conviction. In our heart of hearts we wish it could have been otherwise," reads its editorial.

"Zobel took it upon himself to save Woodward and her legal team from their own arrogance. What he did next, the SJC has decided, was also within his rights. But in the court of public opinion it remains what it has always been - unforgivable.

"Today Woodward, the woman who still stands convicted of taking the life of a little boy, can resume her life back in her native England. And that is the ultimate injustice."

Boston Globe
The Boston Globe strikes a contrasting tone, calling Judge Zobel's decision "just". It saves its spleen for the au pair system under which Woodward was employed.

While Massachusetts has legislation to regulate au pair agencies, it makes "the mistake of equating au pairs with full-time child-care workers.

"Most au pairs come to the United States for the experience of travel in a foreign country. They can lose focus on caring for children, especially when they are unsupervised for long stretches of the day."

It calls for a law to designate au pairs as "strictly part-timers" who should work a maximum 30-hour week.

"It might make sense to allow full-time nannies into the United States on special work permits, but nannies should be mature, trained people capable of the work.

"Child care is no place for confused, inexperienced, frustrated, immature, or angry young women - barely more than girls - working all by themselves."

See also:

18 Jun 98 | Woodward
17 Jun 98 | Woodward
17 Jun 98 | Woodward
18 Jun 98 | Woodward
18 Jun 98 | Woodward
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