The case of the missing American teenager Natalee Holloway has entered a new phase.
After being unsuccessful in finding their daughter and bringing the people they hold responsible to criminal justice, her parents have filed a civil lawsuit.
The wrongful-death lawsuit (filed in Manhattan's state Supreme Court) seeks unspecified monetary damages.
The court papers present a partly speculative version of what happened after the young people left the casino and went to a bar called Carlos 'n' Charlies in the early hours of May 30, 2005.
The court papers claim that an intoxicated Holloway left at 1:30 am with Joran van der Sloot and the Kalpoe brothers.
Several of Holloway's friends saw her in the car with the youths and asked her to get out, which she didn’t.
They further claim that Joran a) willfully caused personal injury to Natalee as a result of his sexual assault upon her b) wrongfully, unlawfully and intentionally detained and directly restrained Natalee Holloway c) deprived her of her personal liberty through force and/or threat of force d) abducted Natalee Holloway and prevented her from returning to the custody of her parents.
As a result of this imagined sexual assault, the last hours of her life were marked “by torment, terror and debasement.”
The lawsuit includes Joran’s father since he supposedly breached his duty to Natalee by failing to take steps to prevent Joran from sexually assaulting Natalee Holloway.
According to the court papers, Paulus van der Sloot enabled his son’s violent and anti-social lifestyle since he supposedly went on the night of the disappearance with his underage son to a casino to play poker. It was at that casino that the younger Van der Sloot met Holloway, again according to the filed lawsuit.
I find the whole lawsuit rather bizarre.
First off, I feel for the parents – it must be horrible to live with the uncertainty what happened to your child.
We all feel for Beth Twitty, who is on an ongoing crusade to find out what happened to her missing daughter.
But suing Dutch citizens (who have never been indicted for a supposed crime that could have taken place in Aruba) in a New York court in order to proceed with your fact-finding missing is too much.
Since the disappearance of her beloved daughter, Mrs. Twitty has lashed out at the Aruban and Dutch authorities.
Considering all the manpower they put in it (including flying three F-16 jets from the Netherlands to Aruba to scan the island and its surrounding waters and giving all civil servants a day-off to join the search party), she should realize that you cannot always get closure in life.
Harsh comments have been made by the Twitty camp, calling the governments that were trying to help them all kinds of names.
But look at it from the other side for a moment.
A partying American teenager goes missing.
The authorities are not too worried – so many of them reappear a few days later.
Her mother and stepfather waltz into the island with a posse, demanding instant success.
With a blatant disrespect to local customs, let alone the legal system, they go on a crusade to find the culprit and bring him to justice.
Enlisting the help of the US media, that flooded the island pre-hurricane Katrina, they meddled and probed in the legal proceedings and try to force police and public prosecutor to do it “their way.”
Newsflash: Aruba is not an American territory and is ruled by the Dutch legal system.
So forget about plea bargaining, jury, etc.
The Dutch and Aruban legal proceedings follow a strict system with build-in guarantees of fair trial as well as privacy.
Therefore, no policeman, judge, public prosecutor, or trial lawyer will go to the media and talk.
It is a pity the Twitty camp was too focused (to say it politely) to realize this.
Don’t forget, the Aruban authorities let the FBI in to assist.
Would this also fly in Alabama?
If it would have been an Alabaman boy and a Dutch female victim and the scene was Birmingham, Alabama, would the local sheriff department allow Dutch officials assist?
I don’t think so – the US media would be all over it claiming that the US has a wonderful legal system (just ask OJ!) and will handle it internally.
If they had been more patient and had worked with the authorities instead of antagonizing them, the result would quite likely be different.
Now that criminal procedures are at a dead end (unless Natalee or her body turns up and/or there will be a full and substantiated confession), the Twitty camp cannot let go. Understandable, for sure, but not productive.
The civil suit will quite likely been thrown out on the technicality of lack of jurisdiction.
The parents that filed the suit are in Alabama and Mississippi.
The Van der Sloots are Dutch and the disappearance happened on Aruba.
I am pretty sure that the overworked courts in New York have better things to do than dive into this high profile case.
Funny enough, the ones that were not sued by the Twittys were the school and supervisors. I find this very strange indeed – the girl went missing during her supervised senior class graduation trip of the Mountain Brook High School. Shouldn’t they have supervised better?
So what is the deal here?
May be it’s easier to sue a bunch of foreigners than people of your hometown?
The big winners in this case are the networks.
It’s a TV station’s dream: pretty, blue-eyed blonde ravished by a tall, dark (and Caucasian) foreigner on a tropical island.
Let’s face it – the average viewer doesn’t want to hear or see any of the numerous missing Afro-American and Hispanic teenagers (especially male ones!).
What sells for the networks are images of pretty Natalee wearing her cheerleader outfit and the circumstances that could be lifted from a cheap murder mystery.
Fox, NBC, CBS and Dr. Phil (who launched his own farfetched theory about what happened during an interview with Jay Leno) have all joined the media circus, milking the story to the hilt.
Will the truth ever been known?
Not likely, and the civil proceeding (sadly enough) will not change that as well.
In the mean time, the island of Aruba has been victimized.
As one fed up Aruban said (voicing the general Aruban and Dutch public opinion): “she was just not worth all the trouble.”