13 - JUL 09 - Chris Freind
Chris Freind – Daily Times News - 09.07.2013
In past columns, I have championed Don Imus keeping his job, defended Barry Bonds' achievements and stood up for the falsely accused Duke lacrosse players long before it was "fashionable" for the media to do so. I even opined that Paris Hilton was wrongly jailed, receiving unfair treatment because she was a celebrity.
But no matter how much I try, I simply cannot find anything worth defending about British couple Gerry and Kate McCann.
The McCanns, for a reason that wholly escapes me, have been worldwide media darlings since their then-3-year-old daughter, Madeleine, disappeared from a Portuguese resort in 2007. A disappearance, mind you, that was 100 percent preventable had Maddy's parents -- both well-to-do physicians -- not left her alone, along with her twin 2-year-old siblings, in a ground-floor unlocked apartment not once, but repeatedly, while they sampled the local paella far from their children.
Such gross negligence should have made them pariahs, but instead, their vaunted PR machine fashioned them into something akin to "heroic victims."
Over the years, they have raised millions, engendered the support of (misguided) icons such David Beckham and J.K. Rowling, had a private audience with the Pope, met with high-ranking staff of then-First Lady Laura Bush, wrote a book, and otherwise lavished in the limelight as globetrotting celebrities.
Along the way, lawsuits have been threatened against anyone who dared question the McCanns' complicity in their daughter's fate, despite significant inconsistencies in their stories. Quite sickeningly, their actual search for Maddy all too often seemed like an afterthought, as it was much cooler to hang with stars and dignitaries than do the grunt work.
Yet for all the baggage that should accompany them, their star power still shines bright, as the Scotland Yard, upon the direction of Prime Minister David Cameron himself, just re-opened the investigation, citing new leads and "persons of interest."
Really? After six years and millions of British taxpayers' money later, they finally have persons of interest?
Aren't there laws on the books in Britain against child endangerment? Reckless behavior? Negligence? And to those who say Britain can't prosecute for a crime committed overseas, you can't have it both ways, as British investigators are reaching out across Europe in a (likely ill-fated) attempt to interrogate and possibly have suspects arrested in other countries.
The headlines all read that Maddy was kidnapped, yet there is no evidence -- none -- of that.
It seems increasingly clear that McCann case is no longer about what happened to a little girl, but an attempt -- some say cover-up -- to absolve "upstanding Brits" of any responsibility, conveniently blaming Portugal, the poor man of Europe, for a botched investigation and overall ineptness.
Looking past the gushing pro-McCann headlines, many the world over believe the parents, accidentally or otherwise, were directly responsible for Maddy's fate. I certainly cannot make that claim, though Gerry and Kate would seem to be guilty of child endangerment. That said, there remain inconsistencies which, to this day, remain unanswered.
Therefore, if Scotland Yard wishes to retain its legendary reputation, it needs to investigate the case from Square One, objectively, free from outside influence. No sacred cows, and no one off the table. And the only way to do that is to start with Gerry and Kate, (and their friends who accompanied them that fateful night), forcing the parents to answer tough questions. The taxpayers, and those who have so faithfully followed this saga for so long, deserve no less.
You don't need to be Sherlock Holmes to ask the following:
1.) Will the McCanns and their friends take lie-detectors tests? While not guaranteed, they're a good barometer. If there is nothing to hide, releasing the results would be a public relations boon, and the investigation could center on Madeleine -- for a change.
2.) What time was Madeleine discovered missing? Was it 9 o'clock, as Kate states, or 10 o'clock as others report, and why the discrepancy? How long did it take for anyone to initially call the police, as there are reports of a significant delay. Kate stated that the shutters were forced open, but the police and hotel staff said there was no evidence of tampering. And Kate, why, upon discovering that your daughter was missing, did you return to the restaurant, leaving the 2-year-old twins alone (again!), while a predator could still have been lurking nearby?
3.) Kate yelled, "They've taken her", but how did she know Madeleine was abducted? After all, the doors were unlocked, and Madeleine was known to sleepwalk.
Or perhaps this little girl just happened to awaken, scared,in a dark, unfamiliar place, and looked for the comfort of her parents. Not seeing them, might she have walked out the unlocked door to find them? And when Kate initially yelled "they" took her, to whom was she referring?
4.) The resort was extremely child-friendly. Why not use its inexpensive baby-sitting services? Some reports state that the McCanns did not want the children to be around people with whom they were unfamiliar. Yet, the same people who ran the day camp the children attended were also the baby sitters. And how could "strangers" be any worse than leaving three young children (with a combined age of 7) alone in an unlocked apartment?
5.) How often did the parents check the children before Madeleine went missing? Every hour, half-hour, or not at all? (The statements of the resort staff differ markedly from the McCanns). Since the room was a considerable distance away from the restaurant, and its view blocked, how could the McCanns compare that "secure arrangement" to eating in their backyard garden?
6.) During a BBC interview, Kate was adamant that the children would not awaken while she and Gerry were dining. Yet, since Madeleine reportedly had a history of sleepwalking, how could Kate be so sure of this?
7.) How many nights did the McCanns dine out while leaving the children alone? What were the distances of those restaurants from their room? Were any away from the hotel?
8.) How much money raised has actually has been allocated to the physical search for Madeleine? A thorough and independent forensic audit should be conducted.
9.) In an earlier interview, the McCanns stated, "Looking at it from where we are now, I don't feel we were irresponsible, I feel we are very responsible parents." Do they still feel that way?
10.) Assume that the police dog was accurate in its detection of death in the room, and the death was that of Madeleine. Why then would the perpetrator take away a dead child?
At a minimum, these questions are a logical starting point to get to the bottom of Madeleine's disappearance.
As a wise man once said, lies reveal more than they conceal. If Scotland Yard does its job, perhaps we shall put that saying to the test.