Welcome | Discussion | Documents | Summary | Photos & Videos | Q and A | Biography | Contact

Boston Globe - 05/16/98

(Click on the Documents menu above to return to the document listing.)

Click here or scroll down to view the source document or article.


The Boston Globe

New disclosures made in parental kidnap case

Mother had drunken-driving convictions

By Anne E. Kornblut and Stephen Kurkjian, Globe Staff, 05/16/98

Though more then 18 years have passed since Barbara Kurth last saw her daughters, she can describe them as young children in detail. Her eyes brighten as she recalls their dress-up clothes, their smiles, the childrens' books she read aloud before tucking them in bed.

But the rage Kurth harbors toward her ex-husband, Stephen Fagen, whom she calls a "frightening man," is just as fresh. And it could keep Kurth from ever seeing her daughters again.

Yesterday, following a disclosure by Fagan's attorney that Kurth had two drunken driving convictions on her record, Kurth conducted an interview in the Boston office of her own lawyers.

Though she admitted the DUI arrests came "during the worst two years of my life," Kurth, 48, refused to back down from bitter comments she has made about Fagan, who took the girls in 1978 - despite indications that her words have driven the young woman farther away.

She insisted a reunion was still her goal. But Kurth said she will not temper her remarks, or stop demanding that Fagan stand trial, even if it means losing the opportunity to have a relationship with her daughters.

"I would be sacrificing my integrity," she said quietly. "And what kind of a person would they get to know if I did that?"

When asked whether she would risk their rejection, Kurth acknowledged that is a possibility. But, she said, "I never had expected to see them again."

In the month since Fagan was arrested in Palm Beach and returned to Massachusetts for prosecution, he and his ex-wife have continually blamed one another for the collapse of their five-year marriage and the acrimonious circumstances that led to the kidnapping.

Fagan, 56, says he took the girls to protect them from their neglectful, alcoholic mother. Kurth says her ex-husband was a manipulative con artist who broke the law when he took their children.

The two sides have traded nasty accusations through the press. The daughters, Rachel Martin and Lisa Martin, now young adults, said on network TV and in a news conference that they would not contact their mother until their father is cleared.

But Kurth said she wants a trial, and, ultimately, a jail sentence for Fagan. She said she views him as a dangerous man with the "ability to mesmerize," someone who has made the daughters " complicit in his schemes."

Kurth also said she interprets her daughters' brush-off as "their way of threatening me into backing off."

"I am not the one prosecuting him," she said. Then, she said, referring to her daughters by their birth names. "If Wendy and Rachael want to see me, they will, and there won't be any threats involved."

A reunion hardly appeared imminent yesterday.

Richard M Egbert, the attorney for Fagan, called statements Kurth recently made during a "Dateline NBC" interview "an absolute disgrace."

Kurth's remarks, some of which she repeated in her Globe interview, included accusations that the daughters lied to protect their father. Egbert called that an insult to "two marvelous, bright, sincere young women."

"I don't know if the path to reconciliation or settlement is to call [them] liars, " Egbert said. "I just can't believe she would do that."

Family counselors were equally surprised Kurth would jeopardize the possibility of meeting her children, through several acknowledged her anger may be justified.

Kathleen Malley-Morrison, a psychology professor at Boston University, interpreted the daughters' silence toward their mother as a natural response to shock. She said Kurth's comments – especially her accusations that the young women are lying – could be perceived as deeply personal slights.

"The longer she is keeping the fight alive and showing her despising of the father, the longer they're going to hold back," she said. "I think she's really got a tough road ahead of her if she wants to meet with them"

Source Document:

Source Document
Page 1 of 2

Boston Globe 05/16/98 Page 1 of 2

Source Document
Page 2 of 2

Boston Globe 05/16/98 Page 2 of 2