If indeed, it “takes a village to raise a child” then it follows that a community can, through a series of mistakes made for a variety of reasons, fail to protect its youngest members with tragic consequences. This is what happened to three-year-old Corvallis, Oregon resident, Karly Sheehan. Shortly after David Sheehan was unexpectedly served divorce papers by his wife Sarah, the once stable loving home Karly had known began to fall apart as her mother proceeded to go through a series of lovers, eventually moving in with Shawn Field. As Karly begins exhibiting signs of mental and physical abuse, David finds himself the primary suspect. Caught in a diabolically clever web of carefully constructed lies, David is rendered all but helpless by the local police department and child protective services as he struggles to protect his daughter.
In a cascade effect, the community of Corvallis failed to pursue tips, fairly examine evidence or provide proper medical assessment to Karly, choosing instead to believe whatever story Sarah gave them. And who can blame them because it is difficult to believe a mother capable of not only turning a blind eye to severe child abuse but also willingly enabling the abuser to get away with the crime while setting someone else up for the blame. It’s just too horrible to contemplate but it happened and it cost little Karly her life.
This moving true story should be read by everyone who regularly interacts with children as it demonstrates the importance of following that gut instinct which says something just isn’t right despite the possibility of being wrong. It also reveals the necessity of providing properly trained medical personnel to perform evaluations instead of relying on whatever doctor is readily available. Thanks to Karly’s Law which mandates certain procedures, many children have been spared her fate but it is one thing to pass a law and quite another to make certain adequate funds are in place to carry it out. This book illustrates the consequences of failure and the vital importance assuring government officials provide the monies to assure no other child endures what Karly suffered.