| SPLIT: A Child,
A Priest and the Catholic Church
by Mary Dispenza
Mary Dispenza was seven years old, Father Rucker, the parish priest,
raped her. From that moment on, she split in two, leaving a big part
of her on the bathroom floor in the school auditorium. It would be years
before Mary would return to the scene of the crime, pick her child up,
and put her back together. He was a priest-a man sent by God. That's
what she knew about him. She called him Father. He seemed to like her
because he always held her hand and walked with her around the schoolyard.
Mary's mom drove the school bus and did some work in the rectory to
pay for her Catholic school tuition. That's how she fell into his hands.
About the Author:
Writer, Speaker, Activist, and Artist are the words that best describe Mary now-in the present. As a nun Mary taught eighth grade English and Creative Writing, preparing exciting lessons and writing alongside her students. Together, Sister Mary and the students learned the beauty of writing and the correct way of making sentences, paragraphs, and stories come alive. In 1970 Mary became editor of the Sisters' quarterly newsletter, THE CONTINUUM.
As the representative for SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests) in the Washington Puget Sound area, Mary is in connection with a global membership of approximately 2,000 other victim/survivors, families and friends. Her relationship with her former religious community in Los Angeles provides a significant link to religious groups and the Catholic Church throughout the U.S. and world community. She has a strong following in the LGBT community of Seattle and is a frequent guest speaker on panels and radio talk shows such as NPR-KUOW and KING TV, Seattle. As a former nun for fifteen years and a writer, she brings spiritual depth, credibility and understanding to religion and sexuality. www.MaryDispenza.com
| Against the Odds:
A Success Story of Two Homeless Sisters
by Reenita Shepherd, Chelsea Shepherd, and Chelesa Fearce
Imagine two sisters less than a year apart in age, who against all odds, not only survived growing up in numerous homeless shelters but thrived. Chelsea Shepherd and Chelesa Fearce both graduated from high school with honors. Chelsea graduated Salutatorian of her class at George Washington Carver High School in Atlanta, is enrolled at the University of Georgia and plans a career in law enforcement. Chelesa earned a grade point average of 4.466, was Valedictorian at Charles Drew High School in Riverdale, Georgia and in fall, 2013 entered Spellman College as a junior and aspires to be a physician.
To understand their amazing success stories, their mother's story must also be told. Reenita Shepherd grew up in Providence, Rhode Island, and then in rural Mississippi, the oldest of three in a family that was both neglectful and abusive. Her own mother was the fifteenth of twenty-two children. In the third grade, Reenita entered the foster care system after her stepfather beat her so badly that school and social service officials stepped in. Reenita spent the next eight years alternating between foster homes, her mentally unstable mother's home, and running away from both.
After being emancipated at seventeen, Reenita found herself a teen mom with two young daughters and relocated to Atlanta in hopes of a better life. She got a job as a pre-school aide because the pre-school was a place she could keep her young daughters close. The little family sometimes had a home, but frequently stayed with friends, and sometimes in their car--when they had one.
Chelsea and Chelesa both remember their mother reading to them when they were young. They also remember their mom's earnest words about how important it was for them to do well in school. Reenita knew the only way out of the never-ending cycle of poverty and abuse that she grew up in was through education. From day one, Reenita minimized their circumstances and encouraged her girls to study. And study they did, often by flashlight, often on chilly nights or in the searing heat of an Atlanta summer; almost always they were hungry.
As tough as it was not having a place to call home, being homeless was one of Chelsea and Chelesa's smaller worries. In 2005, when the girls were 9 and10, Reenita was diagnosed with lymphoma and lost her job. A homeless shelter took them in, and with the exception of a few months here and there in their own apartment, a series of shelters became home for Chelsea and Chelesa.
Two years later, Reenita was brutally raped in the parking lot of a big box store. The result was a younger brother, Nicholas. A year later a new sister, Cayley, joined the family. With four children and unstable health, Reenita was never able to land on her feet, but every family member made the best of what they had.
Which government, private, or nonprofit program the family qualified for determined which shelter the family stayed in--and for how long. With each change in shelters came a change in schools. "It was okay," said Chelsea. "Mom instilled a good work ethic into all of us, and growing up in shelters we made friends easily, so a new school was just another opportunity to learn. The important thing was that we stayed together."
What did bother the girls, who are also each other's best friend, was that they were not able to have active social lives outside of school. There was no transportation to or from activities, and the shelters required them to be there early in the evenings, often with an early lights out. Both Chelsea and Chelesa were bullied for wearing worn-out clothes, and for being homeless. But they persevered.
Through their studies and amazing academic achievements, Chelsea and Chelesa realized they could use their knowledge to help others. That idea spurred both girls to intensify their thirst for learning. With Chelsea heading toward law enforcement and Chelesa to medical school, each girl is dedicated to making a difference in her own way.
Both girls also speak to youth groups about their upbringing, and are well-qualified to say, "If we did it, you can, too." Their inspiring message has touched thousands of young people, and their story continues to motivate teens not only to stay in school, but to put forth the effort to excel. Chelsea and Chelesa both know first hand how rewarding that can be.
See videos here:
About the Authors:
Reenita Shepherd, Chelesa Fearce, and Chelsea Shepherd, managed to thrive, despite living in homeless shelters. Chelesa and Chelsea are speaking in public, and doing well in college, while Reenita speaks to church and youth groups. They live in Atlanta.
| THE SCAM ARTISTS:
Fakes, Frauds, and Forgeries in the Art World
by Anthony Amore
When Steven Spielberg purchased Norman Rockwell's painting Russian Schoolroom from art dealer Judy Goffman Cutler in 1989, he scored a major find. The painting hadn't been seen for more than 15 years, and Spielberg-a major fan and important collector of Rockwell's work-was proud to add it to his collection. That is, until February of 2007, when one of the acclaimed director's assistants was perusing images of stolen art and discovered that one of the boss' paintings-the very same Russian Schoolroom-was among the missing, having been stolen in 1973. Acting in good faith and desirous of staying on the right side of the law, Spielberg immediately contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation to report what he had. The FBI told him that there were competing claims of ownership for Russian Schoolroom and instructed him to retain possession of it. However, within three months he transferred his rights to the painting in exchange for a comparable Rockwell from the very same dealer from whom he bought the stolen Russian Schoolroom. Though considered an expert in Rockwell's oeuvre, Spielberg wanted to believe that the fact that Russian Schoolroom was somehow out of public view for so long was not due to some sort of illegality, and that despite the controversy with his painting, the art dealer should be trusted.
The desire to believe that one has found a special piece of art, Spielberg's lost treasure for instance, often clouds the judgment of art collectors. It's that sort of murky decision making that has resulted in the purchase of untold hundreds of millions of dollars on the illicit art market, padding the pockets of art forgers and conmen the world over. Art collectors simply want to believe. They want to believe very badly.
Hermann Goering's eyes opened wide when he saw Johannes Vermeer's The Woman Taken in Adultery. With only 35 or 36 known paintings attributed to the great Dutch master (scholars will probably argue over the actual number forever), a "new" Vermeer would be a crowning addition to his growing, awe-inspiring, and completely ill- gotten art collection. Even that failed artist Adolph Hitler himself, who at the time was building his Fuhrermuseum in which he would display the greatest art collection he could steal and loot, hadn't scored such a coup as a heretofore unknown Vermeer. Never mind the fact that The Woman Taken in Adultery didn't look at all like the work of Vermeer. Goering had to have it, and traded 200 looted paintings to the person in possession of this "missing Vermeer," mediocre artist Han van Meegeren. Later, with the war over and facing execution, van Meegeren admitted that he had forged the alleged Vermeer and proved so by painting another in the courtroom. Goering, facing his own trial in Nuremberg, was informed of the forgery, but steadfastly refused to believe it.
Art fraud has been a consistent con used by scam artists throughout the decades. And even today, armed with the advances in methods used to unmask fakes and the knowledge of the widespread problem of art forgery, dupes continue to line up to buy bogus "masterpieces." The news continues in the headlines with the breaking news just this past month that Glafira Rosales had sold 63 Modernist fakes for an estimated $80 million, with her own personal take a cool $33 million. All that for paintings put on canvas by a Chinese immigrant who, having failed at his own attempt art superstardom in the United States, worked for Rosales out of the garage of his home in Queens, often putting his forgeries out in the driveway to dry out in the sun. And this past June, authorities in Germany broke up a Russian forgery gang they say sold more than 400 forgeries by artists including Kandinsky, Goncharova, and von Jawlensky.
Art scams are today so numerous that the specter of a lawsuit arising from a mistaken attribution has scared a number of experts away from the business of authentication, and with good reason. Art scams are increasingly convincing and involve incredible sums of money. The cons perpetrated by unscrupulous art dealers and their accomplices are proportionately elaborate. From these stories comes the The Scam Artists: Fakes, Frauds and Forgeries in the Art World.
The Scam Artists will tell the stories of some of history's most notorious yet untold cons. They involve stolen art hidden for decades; elaborate ruses that involve the Nazis and allegedly plundered art; the theft of a conceptual prototype from a well-known artist by his assistant to be used later to create copies; the use of online and television auction sites to scam buyers out of millions; and other confidence scams incredible not only for their boldness but more so because they actually worked. Using interviews and newly released court documents, The Scam Artists will also take the reader into the investigations that led to the capture of the con men, who oftentimes return back to the world of fakes, frauds, and forgeries in the art world. For some, it's an irresistible urge because their innocent dupes all share something in common: They want to believe.
About the Author:
Anthony M. Amore is an expert in security matters and the co-author of Stealing Rembrandts: The Untold Stories of Notorious Art Heists (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2011), which received a great deal of critical acclaim and was a Wall Street Journal True Crime Best Seller. He is much in demand as a speaker and lecturer on the topic of art theft and security, and has appeared on numerous national and international television and radio programs. Amore is a trustee with the Association for Research into Crimes against Art. A scripted dramatic television series based Amore's life is currently in development with CBS Television, with the showrunner responsible for the #1 series on television, NCIS, at the helm.
Before joining the Gardner Museum in 2005, Amore logged 15 years of national security, law, intelligence and crisis management experience with two federal government agencies: the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Security Administration (TSA), where he helped rebuild security at Logan International Airport after the attacks of 9/11. He was also a Special Agent with the Federal Aviation Administration for whom he was the lead agent responding to the Shoe Bomb attack.
Amore has earned both a Master of Public Administration and a Certificate of Mastery in National Security from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He offers his expertise on security and cultural property protection as a columnist for the Huffington Post and was also a columnist for the Boston Herald, writing on transportation security matters.
For more see: http://anthonyamore.wordpress.com/
| Stalked and Ambushed:
The True Story of the Hellish "Astronaut Love Triangle"
by Colleen Shipman
Force Captain Colleen Shipman escaped what could have been a gruesome
death after she was attacked by married NASA Astronaut Lisa Nowak, who
was obsessed with Shipman's boyfriend, Space Shuttle Pilot William Oefelein.
Rejected by Oefelein, Nowak was unable to accept that an illicit affair
would not develop, and she snapped into a psychotic rage. On February
3, 2007, after weeks of tedious planning, a jealous Nowak embarked on
a mission to kidnap, terrorize and (perhaps) kill Colleen Shipman.