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Fact sheet on Stephen Fagan case - 1999

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Facts about the Fagan kidnapping case.

Many of us feel that the media has avoided the facts surrounding this case and instead concentrated on sound bites and sensationalism. Since this is a frequently discussed issue a few facts instead of the usual she said would be instructive. Stephen Fagan a.k.a. William Martin and his wife Barbara Kurth stopped living together as husband and wife in Dec. of 1977. They agreed on terms and the divorce was uncontested. During the year 1979 Mr. Fagan was an Instructor at Law at Harvard Law School and supervising attorney in their Legal Service program and in the process of restarting a business. In Sept. of 1979 Mr. Fagan was contacted by three neighbors of his ex-wife whose name was now Barbara Waugh, having remarried. All three of these neighbors were total strangers to Mr. Fagan, were mothers and had witnessed the behavior they spoke of for months. They also called the police and Child Welfare. Affidavits of these mothers were submitted to the court and two of them drove hours to testify on Mr. Fagan’s behalf. It was this event that triggered Mr. Fagan going to court to protect his daughters. The following are just a few of the statements from Barbara Kurth Waugh’s neighbors.

On Friday, September 14, 1997 one of the neighbor's children came running to a neighbor saying that "Rachael Fagan's mother is dead," My neighbor Sandy LaBombard, and I went to Barbara Fagan's apartment. Rachael was upstairs calling her mother attempting to wake her up. Several minutes later, Barbara came to the door staggering. In my opinion, she was intoxicated. Sandy and I then left, and Rachael went to Sandy's house. I had finally had enough of what I consider poor care of Rachael and Wendy, and felt I had to do something to help them. I called him and explained to him that Barbara was unconscious and thought to be dead by his children, and that he better do something quickly. I then called a family services organization. In the meantime, I learned that all Rachael had had to eat that day was cereal and that she had fixed the cereal herself and fed Wendy cereal also. Neither child had eaten since that time, and it was approximately 5:00pm. Although Rachael had never been in my home before, I fed both Rachael and Wendy dinner. I tried to call Barbara several times, but she did not answer. I called Stephen back, and told him that I thought he had to come and pick up his children, since Barbara was unable to care for them. He left Framingham and drove to North Adams, but by the time he arrived Barbara had awakened and come for the children. I had, in the meantime, called the police and the family services organization again. Rachael and Wendy were in my home for about three and a half hours during this time, and Barbara did not even inquire as to where they were.

On Sunday, September 16, 1979, at about 6:30 p.m. Sandy called me outside. Wendy was in the window sill and Rachael was in the house, crying, yelling for help, and crying that she was hungry. I ran over to Barbara’s apartment, and had Rachael open the door. Rachael told me that her mother was "sleeping, she's only sleeping." I went inside, and asked Rachael why she was crying. She answered that she was crying because she was hungry. She said had had only some bacon to eat that day. Wendy was also crying, "I'm hungry." Barbara was lying on a mattress which is on the living room floor, apparently sleeping. I went over and shook her several times, and she just rolled over. She did not wake up. I returned to my home and called Stephen`s parents, (I had met his mother Friday night), and I called the police...

I believe Rachael and Wendy do not receive proper care from their mother. I have observed this since the beginning oft he summer. Rachael is very introverted and does not act like a normal, happy year old. She seems to take a very motherly role toward Wendy, I do not believe that Barbara is taking care of the children, and that they should be given much better care.

Out of at least 50 or 60 occasions that I have been in Barbara’s apartment, only two or three times did she appear capable to care for her children. Most of the times I have been in her apartment (usually to pick up my children) Barbara has been unconscious on the couch in her living room.

Throughout this summer, I have observed Barbara and her children, and have had considerable contact with the children. The younger child Wendy, is outside with no pants on and occasionally no clothing at all. She also regularly says that she is hungry and has not been fed regularly. I (and many of the other neighbors) often feed Rachael and Wendy their meals because their mother has not fed them. Frequently Rachael and Wendy are without their mother's supervision for hours at a time, three or more hours. I have frequently observed Barbara in what I consider to be a drunken slate. She stumbles, seems forgetful and smells like alcohol on these occasions. She has, on one occasion, called me three times for the same reason and did not remember that she had previously called.

I have observed Barbara frequently in what I consider to be a drunken state. Once my daughter was at Barbara’s when Barbara was fixing dinner. Barbara asked my daughter if she would like to eat there. (My daughter is ten years old.) For dinner, Barbara look a piece of raw steak and put it in an ordinary toaster. (My daughter brought it home and showed it to me.) It, naturally, came out of the toaster raw. Rachael was eating it although it was raw and bloody. My daughter asked Rachael how she could eat raw meat, and Rachael replied, Because I'm hungry" In the meantime Barbara went back to sleep on the couch. When my daughter left to show me the raw steak, Rachael followed my daughter to the steps asking her not to leave her.

Mr. Fagan immediately went to court and asked for custody. Two of Barbara's neighbors drove hours to support his plea. At the hearing Barbara Waugh denied any alcohol problems. Yet in the approximately 10 months prior to that she had been arrested and pleaded guilty at least three times to driving under the influence. All of these arrests involved a collision with another motor vehicle. In one arrest incident in Vermont both children were in the automobile as was her mother Constance Kurth when she was arrested. The girls were four and one year old respectively. Her blood alcohol level for that offense was 0.25. This level is more than three times what is today allowed by law. In another her blood alcohol level was 0.23.

To quote the police from their reports concerning these three offenses:

"In speaking with her a strong odor of an intoxicant was smelled. She was also found to be combative and extremely enraged and had to be restrained."

"I observed her fall down in the snow twice plus when walking across U.S. Route 7 saw that her walk was unsteady. There was the odor of an intoxicant on her breath when she passed close to me and when she sat inside my cruiser with me, it was more apparent. Her speech was thick and she seemed to need time to think when talking to me."

Yet neither Barbara nor her representatives made these facts known, indeed in spite of this denied any problems. This denial in fact continued to 1998 until Mr. Fagan made the facts known. The judge in the case, Ed Ginsburg of Middlesex County returned the children to the mother despite the neighbors testimony and Mr. Fagan's parents who agreed to move into his home so when he was at work there would be 24 hour coverage for the girls. Ginsberg was recently named by three fathers groups as one of the ten worst family law judges in the country. He was number 6.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. When Mr. Fagan left with his children he was 38 years old, a professional with a home, family and friends from a lifetime of living only in that area. He had a serious relationship with a woman that he lost and didn't leave for wealth or luxury, he left because his daughters could not exercise the right of self defense on their own behalf and at some point we must take responsibility for those we love. It was unfortunate that the system failed his children so completely.

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