From Ray Rice to lap dancing teachers, America needs pastoral guidance


WASHINGTON, September 16, 2014 – Recent legal happenings should have us examine our attitudes about violence and tolerance. In Sheboygan, Wisconsin, a man used a dog “shock collar” on his 7-year-old daughter, placing it around her neck because he wanted her to feel what it felt like when the dog got shocked.

Zachary Kacmar, 28, is charged with child abuse and hopefully will see six years in prison.

After being shocked the girl ran upstairs to her mother, who photographed the injuries, and then delayed reporting the incident to police because of the fear of getting her husband in trouble. She changed her mind after speaking to her pastor.

Is this pastor available to speak to Janay Palmer Rice?

In New Rochelle, New York, several hundred fans watched the town’s high school football game this past Saturday. Ray Rice was not only in the stands, but he was welcomed onto the sidelines by the varsity coach and many people expressed support for him.

One sign read “We love you Ray.” The pastor would pray for Ray, but certainly wouldn’t celebrate him.

Ray Rice was ultimately, appropriately suspended indefinitely by the National Football League. Hopefully Rice’s understanding about violence will transform; nonetheless, hopefully the NFL will not allow his return to the field.

Speaking of dog violence and the NFL, maybe Michael Vick being allowed back was okay; he did by all accounts seem truly remorseful and changed his outlook.

More NFL: violence purposely overlooked has affected at least 20,000 former players. The head-injury litigation now has dollars attached. In response to the lawsuits the NFL took some positive steps toward eliminating the violence and injuries they have known about for decades.

This is not an organization anyone would ever accuse of getting ahead of a wrong and correcting it quickly.

Estimates are that less than twenty percent of head-injured former NFL players have sought, or will seek compensation for their injuries. Thus, the National Football League will only have to pay about $950 million to resolve the claims.

Another report done for the league estimated the actual dollar payout at $900 million. These reports were publicized following requests from Bloomberg and ESPN.

Battles over abortion continue. Anti-abortions who created “TRAP” laws (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) face another challenge to their back-door tactics in Texas, where a law that passed restricted performing abortions to facilities that meet the same construction standards as outpatient surgical centers. The effect of the law reduces the number of facilities in Texas where an abortion can be done to seven or eight. A state official argues this does not place an undue burden on women’s rights.

Similar laws are being challenged in Alabama, Mississippi and Alabama. The Supreme Court should step in.

Virginia passed legislation in 2013 requiring first-trimester abortion clinics to comply with construction standards used for hospitals, forcing them to build hallways with specific widths, locker rooms for staff, larger parking lots and new ventilation systems. This past May, Virginia’s new Governor, Terry McAuliffe, not connected to using his office illegally, appointed five new members to the state Board of Health to review the regulations.

If state legislatures want to ban abortion, let them try to pass laws, which will then certainly be challenged. Back-door efforts to restrict what is the current law is simply disgusting, yet pro-life factions believe all is fair in their morale crusade.

The Greenville, South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles will have a hard time defending a lawsuit filed against them. Teresa Culpepper’s 16-year-old son wanted to wear make-up for his driver’s license photo. He was told he had to take off the mascara, as the DMV official felt the young man was purposely trying to alter his appearance and misrepresent his identity. The DMV brass backed the official.

Beyond the idiocy of the allegation (really? – mascara is going to change his appearance?), the action is certainly unconstitutional: women are allowed to wear makeup for their photos. Discrimination based on gender can only be allowed if it serves an important government objective and the discrimination is substantially related to achieving that objective.

Is there always someone who is bent on blatantly discriminating because of their own fears, and then, why more often than not do others back them?

A Baltimore, Maryland man stabbed a co-worker because he believed the co-worker took and ate a meatball off his plate. Reports miss whether the weapon was a fork or a knife, and also miss the location of the stab. The stabber fled and charges are still pending.

Too many meatball jokes available here — the assault is clearly not funny.

Felicia Smith, a 42-year-old middle school teacher in Aldine, Texas, has been sentenced to three years of probation after pleading guilty to giving a student, aged 15, a four-minute, full contact “birthday celebration” lap dance during a class. Smith’s felony conviction will make it difficult, but not impossible for her to be rehired as a teacher in Texas. She offers that her class convinced her to do the lap dance.

Fascinating — hormonally challenged teenagers cheering — if the parents haven’t taught them by now, perhaps we can arrange for a visit from the pastor.

A Rock Island County, Illinois Sheriff, Jeff Boyd, recently pled guilty to “attempted misconduct” based on cyber-stalking a woman he met at a local gym. He sent several text messages in an effort to intimidate and threaten her. The punishment for the misdemeanor conviction was agreed — the Sheriff resigned his post, which eliminates the pension he would have received.

The Sheriff’s wife was by his side as the charges, his guilty plea and his resignation from his office were announced last week.

Again, is the pastor available?

Ryan Watenpaugh, 34, a Palo Cedro, California resident, was arrested last week after he allegedly stole his ex-girlfriend’s pet dog, cooked it and fed it to her. The dog has been missing since August, after it ran out of the woman’s apartment to escape the violence of one of Watenpaugh’s assaults on the woman. Watenpaugh has been charged with numerous counts of domestic violence, false imprisonment, stalking and cruelty to animals.

After the last incident where he assaulted her, they attempted a reconciliation over a meal he cooked her. After the meal, he sent her text messages asking how the dog tasted, and then a few days later, he left a bag on her porch that contained two dog paws. Watenpaugh is in jail unable to make bail.

People go to jail and lose jobs. Institutions pay. Neither are enough, because they don’t erase the harms nor the indignities.

Violence is an evil that must be discussed by parents at an early age with young male children. Tolerance of other’s rights is also a necessary conversation with young children. The failure of these lessons manifests individually, and into virtually every institution.

Not every evil stems from the failure of parents. Wouldn’t it be a better world, however, if parents took a lesson from the pastor and stepped up?


Paul A. Samakow is an attorney licensed in Maryland and Virginia, and has been practicing since 1980.  He represents injury victims and routinely battles insurance companies and big businesses that will not accept full responsibility for the harms and losses they cause. He can be reached at any time by calling 1-866-SAMAKOW (1-866-726-2569), via email, or through his website

His new book “Who Will Pay My Auto Accident Bills?, The Most Comprehensive Nationwide Auto Accident Resolution Book, Ever” can be reviewed on and can be ordered there, or obtained directly on Amazon: Click here to order


Mr. Samakow’s “Don’t Text and Drive” campaign, El Textarudo, has become nationally recognized. Please visit the website and “like” the concept on the Facebook page

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Paul Samakow
Attorney Paul Samakow brings his legal expertise and analysis from the trenches of the courtroom to Communities Digital News. A native Washingtonian, Samakow has been a Plaintiff’s trial lawyer since 1980 practicing in the DC metro area. Paul can be reached at any time by calling 1-866-SAMAKOW (1-866-726-2569), via email @ [email protected], or through his website @ He is also available to speak to your group on numerous legal topics.