Photographer's Felony Case is Settled
The Spring 2000 issue of this magazine contained an account of the felony prosecution against me of taking bathtub pictures of my now-9-year-old daughter.

As that issue went to press, we were in negotiations with the Lorain County Prosecutor's office to try to avert going to trial. The prosecutor, Greg White, had been convinced to enter into negotiations by a town which, in professor Marc Blecher's words, "turned itself inside out and upside down in an act of communitarian solidarity and heroism that should be the envy of the rest of the country." People petitioned, protested, jammed phone lines with calls, held a benefit concert and a candlelight vigil, and ultimately convinced Prosecutor White to meet with a delegation, a meeting which led to the negotiations.

The result was a Diversion Agreement. The good news is that my family is spared the ordeal of a prolonged criminal prosecution, and our daughter (who was at the top of the prosecutor's witness list) will not have to take the stand. The bad news is that I had to agree that the prosecutor could destroy two of my photographs, had to state publicly that these two photographs could be interpreted as "sexually oriented," and had to agree to participate in six months of counseling.

In retrospect, this is not so much my story as it is Oberlin's story. We feel that it is a story that needs to be told, and the question became the venue in which to tell it. Although we were besieged by national media, we limited interviews to four local papers. All media were invited to a gathering on Monday April 17, 2000, at which I could speak publicly for the first time and thank my supporters.

The following is taken from my remarks that evening:

"My daughter is wise. There are people who have told me that she is an 'old soul.' I think she will be able to make her way through the tangled web of contradictions that fate has handed her. And once again her community came through, this time to guide her. I have loved the qualified congratulations you have given us. Having you recognize the enormity of what I had to give up has eased the pain of giving it up, and those qualified congratulations have helped my daughter navigate and make sense of the events that have swirled around us.

I had no joy in the resolution to this case; it had come at too great a cost. Then a funny thing happened. I received another gift from my community. Your joy and your relief have become mine."

The Spring issue listed several Oberlin alumni who supported us. There are literally hundreds of other college staff, administrators, faculty, and Obies who contributed money, time, and energy. To everyone who helped us, my family is deeply grateful. You saved us.

Cynthia Stewart '74
Oberlin, Ohio
Editor's note: Cynthia Stewart submitted a list of donors she wished to thank for their support. Space limitations did not allow us to publish the hundreds of names, but each one will be acknowledged personally by the Defense Fund Committee.


One More Admirer

I, too, am one of the many admirers and former students of Professor Bongiorno. Others may champion Freddy Artz or Barry McGill or William Kennick, but when you say "Oberlin professor" to me, I immediately think of Andrew Bongiorno. I studied only sophomore literature with him, but with the wisdom of hindsight, I wish I had taken more of his classes. I never had to cram for a final exam because I had learned what I needed to know along the way, in class. When I think of Hollywood's image of a good teacher--someone who dramatizes his material, is very dynamic, entertaining, witty, enthralling, etc.,--they wouldn't know what to make of Professor Bongiorno: quiet, even stiff, polite, not at all showy, I don't recall his ever cracking a joke, but he could explain important ideas in ways that you got it! And he was always respectful of his students. That's a good teacher.

I enjoyed Andrew Ward's memoir. Thank you for that.

A. A. Lloyd '57
Asheville, North Carolina
A Fitting Goodbye

I was greatly moved by Andrew Ward's article, "In Memory of Andrew Bongiorno." I took literary criticism with Professor Bongiorno and felt that it was one of the most important courses I ever took. In fact, I was there when he entered the room for his last class before retiring. He stood before us and said that because it was his last class he would not lecture but just say goodbye, and we could leave whenever we wished. We all stood up and gave him a standing ovation as he left the room. It was an unforgettable moment. He was one of the great teachers, those who made Oberlin a special place.

Carolyn Doggett Smith '65
Putnam Valley, New York

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