When she was 19, Louise Woodward stole every news headline as the British nanny who was found guilty of killing an 8-month-old named Matthew Eappen at the family's home in Boston. She was painted in the media as a cold, heartless teen who deserved to rot in prison for a lifetime.
Louise did her time and is now 35 and pregnant with a child of her own -- news that is causing many to wish her pain. But, despite her past, she is just as worthy of raising a child and deserves a second chance at happiness.
The details that surrounded this murder case were always a little murky. At the center of it you had Louise, who came to the U.S. to work as an au pair and was responsible for caring for baby Matthew. When the baby was admitted to a hospital after falling into a coma, Louise was questioned and admitted she "popped" the baby onto the bed. In Britain, "popped" means "placed," but investigators concluded that the girl had been rough with the baby and had even dropped him at one point, which could have caused his fractured skull and retinol hemorrhages.
Louise insisted -- and still claims -- she hadn't been violent with the child. But the case ignited a media frenzy at the time and Louise became the face behind a new parental fear called "shaken baby syndrome." After a jury found her guilty of second-degree murder, the judge reduced her conviction to manslaughter, stating that he didn't believe she acted out of malice, but out of immaturity, confusion, inexperience, and some anger.
It's difficult to make excuses for anyone who hurts a child -- whether intentionally or accidentally. But Louise served her time for the crime she committed. We have no idea of knowing how much she has grown and learned in the past 15 years, but she is a free woman who deserves all of the benefits of a free life, including motherhood.
Becoming a parent may make Louise a more compassionate person. It may awaken in her a better understanding of what Matthew's parents went through (rumor has it she hasn't apologized to them because she doesn't think she did anything wrong). She deserves a second chance to turn her life around and find happiness after years of hell.
Do you think Louise Woodward deserves a second chance at happiness?
Image via Thomas/Flickr