Author Archive: directorifi

Mother of NFL Player Killed in Car Crash Forgives Driver

The Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas – Former Dallas Cowboys lineman Josh Brent was convicted last month of intoxication manslaughter for the December 2012 crash that killed his best friend and teammate Jerry Brown, Jr., who was a passenger in Brent’s car. Cowboys HelmetFollowing the conviction, Brown’s mother testified that she forgave Brent and asked jurors for mercy in sentencing him.

“He is still responsible, but we can’t go on in life holding a grudge,” Stacey Jackson, Brent’s mother, testified. “We all make mistakes.”

Perhaps because of that testimony (Jackson was the last witness the jury heard), Brent avoided a possible 20-year prison sentence and instead was sentenced to 180 days in jail and 10 years of probation. He was also fined $10,000.

Jackson agreed with Brent’s attorney Kevin Brooks who told jurors that they couldn’t punish Brent more than he had already punished himself. “He still has to live with that,” Brooks said.

Jackson concluded her testimony by saying, “Forgiveness. I’m sure that’s what Jerry would have wanted.”

Read the entire story: “Josh Brent intoxication manslaughter trial.”

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The Man Who Killed My Daughter. . .

Star Journal, Rhinelander, WI – For many parents, losing a child in a car crash caused by a drunken driver would set up a lifetime of anger and resentment. For Patty Bonack, that was never a thought.

“Even when I learned she (Jenny) was killed by a drunk driver I had a powerful feeling of forgiveness come over me,” Patty said. “I attribute that to the Holy Spirit working in my heart. I don’t think I could have felt that way on my own.”

Jenny was on her way home from work in Madison on Aug. 31, 2009, when her car was T-boned by a car driven by Jesse Ruegsegger. His blood alcohol level was .24. The 29-year-old Ruegsegger eventually received an eight year prison sentence with nine years probation and Patty was glad for that.

“Even though I had forgiven him, I still wanted him to pay for what he did,” she said. “I wanted him to know how much harm he had done to our family.”

Killed My DaughterSince then, Patty has not only forgiven Ruegsegger, but made him a part of her life. That journey to embrace the man who killed her daughter has resulted in a book, The Man Who Killed My Daughter: A Story of Tragedy and Triumph that was just recently released.

“I wrote a children’s book a long time ago that I never published,” she said. “But this time I felt a strong pull to write this book. I wanted to write about the power of forgiveness and how it has affected my life.”

After reaching out to Ruegsegger’s family, Patty was contacted by a production company that had been commissioned by the military to film an educational video about drinking among military personnel. The film’s producer wanted Patty to be featured along with Jesse Ruegsegger.

“I figured something good was coming from Jenny’s death,” said Patty. “Maybe someone watching this film would think twice about drinking and driving and save someone else the pain we were going through. I think it will make a big impact on soldiers.”

Read the full story: “The power of forgiveness after a tragedy”

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Parents Forgive Hit-and-Run Driver for Killing Their Girls

examiner.com, Denver, CO – Susan Dieter and her husband Tom Robinson are suffering from a heartbreak that is difficult to comprehend. The couple lost both their 6-year-old daughter, Anna Dieter-Eckerdt, and her 11-year-old stepsister, Abigail Robinson, to a hit and run driver on October 20, 2013.

Less than two weeks later, the couple told a television reporter that they forgave the teenage girl who ran over their two young daughters.

Authorities said the girls were playing in a pile of leaves near theSisters5 street outside their home in Forest Grove, OR, when an     18-year-old female driver “intentionally” drove through the large pile and “felt a bump” but failed to stop.

Despite the horrific accident, the parents of the two young girls say they have already made their peace with the teen who killed their girls.

“I can’t change what happened to my girls,” said Susan Dieter. “I’ve said many times I just want to wake up, reverse the clocks, but I can’t change it.”

Family friend and Pastor Eric Schmitt of the Sunrise Church said the couple’s reaction may be unusual, but that their forgiveness is an example to all of us.

“By their actions, by their behavior, and by their character, that’s who we’re all supposed to be,” Schmitt said.

Read the full story: Forgiveness over tragedy: Parents forgive hit and run driver for killing girls.”

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Mother of Amish Schoolhouse Shooter: “We are Called to Forgive”

The Huffington Post – Religion, Lancaster, PA – The mother of the gunman who killed five girls at an Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania says she learned from the Amish how to forgive her son after the 2006 massacre.

Just over seven years ago, Charles Carl Roberts IV barricaded himself inside an Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, PA, tied up 10 girls and opened fire, killing five and injuring five others before committing suicide as police closed in.

The Power of ForgivenessThe Amish responded by offering immediate forgiveness to the killer — even attending his funeral — and embracing his family.

Roberts’ mother, Terri Roberts, could have gone into hiding to nurse her pain, like many parents of mass murderers have in the past. Instead, she broke with convention. She forgave, too, and now she is sharing her experience with others, saying the world needs more stories about the power of forgiveness and the importance of seeking joy through adversity.

“I realized if I didn’t forgive him, I would have the same hole in my heart that he had. And a root of bitterness never brings peace to anyone,” Roberts said. “We are called to forgive.”

Roberts has delivered that message to scores of audiences, from church groups to colleges, and is writing a memoir. At the same time, she stays close to her Amish neighbors.

Once a week, Terri Roberts spends time with a 13-year-old Amish girl named Rosanna who sits in a wheelchair and eats through a tube. Roberts bathes her, sings to her, reads stories. She can only guess what’s going on inside Rosanna King’s mind because the girl can’t talk. Roberts’ son did this to her. She is one of the five schoolhouse shooting survivors.

Terri Roberts’ weekly visits with Rosanna force her to confront the Amish school teacher 2damage her son caused. But Roberts says she also finds peace as she spends time with Rosanna and provides some relief to the teen’s family, if only for a few hours.

While the Amish were celebrated for how they responded to the massacre, they also acknowledge that forgiveness doesn’t always come easily or automatically. Rosanna ‘s father, Christ King, said the Amish are like anyone else, with the same frailties and emotions.

“We hope that we have forgiven, but there actually are times that we struggle with that, and I have to ask myself, ‘Have I really forgiven?'” King said. “We have a lot of work to do to live up to what we are bragged up to be.”

Yet Terri Roberts says she learned from the Amish that “none of us needs to live in the saddest part of our lives 24/7.”

Read the full story: “Terri Roberts, Mother Of Amish Shooting Perpetrator Cares For Her Son’s Victims.”

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Rape Victim Meets Attacker to Forgive Him

BBC News UK, London – A rape victim who met her attacker in prison in order to tell him she has forgiven him called the visit a “great” experience to seek “peace and forgiveness together.”

ForgivenessLondon resident Katja Rosenberg, 40, was cycling home after work when she was attacked by a 16-year-old stranger. He was eventually captured and jailed for 14 years after admitting to that attack and another rape of a 51-year-old woman shortly afterwards.

Rosenberg said she felt she could forgive soon after the 2006 rape, believing things must have gone wrong in her attacker’s life. “You wouldn’t ever do that if you felt happy,” she told BBC Radio 5 live.

Rosenberg said she had always felt in the years since that she should meet her attacker. She finally visited him in prison last September–a meeting arranged through a restorative justice program.  Rosenberg said she was partly motivated by a wish to assure her attacker that “life’s not hopeless, that he knows he’s got a future”, she said.

“I just felt I could give that. I also thought the exchange would be good for me to somehow get some kind of closure – I mean, I didn’t really need a ‘Sorry’, but it was somehow just good to see that you walk into the same direction of peace and forgiveness together.”

Read the full story: “Rape victim meets attacker to forgive him.”

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