August 11, 2013 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
Three years ago, Stephen Moore brought his daughter Elizabeth back to her mother’s house after his scheduled visitation with her. Moore and ex-wife Kathleen Dorsett were embroiled in an acrimonious child custody case in which he was demanding more time with Elisabeth than the court had ordered and Dorsett wanted. Here’s the most recent news (Courier Post, 8/8/13).
When Stephen Moore returned their daughter to her mother’s house Aug. 16, 2010, authorities say, Kathleen Dorsett lured him to the back of the residence where her father leaped from behind bushes and smashed his head with a heavy metal object. He then choked Moore with a rope before dumping his body in the trunk of Moore’s mother’s car, prosecutors say.
Thomas Dorsett paid an employee to set fire to the car, but Dorsett ended up doing the job himself.
That all happened on August 16, 2010. On August 8, 2013, Kathleen Dorsett was sentenced to 58 years in prison with no eligibility for parole for 47 years. She’s now 37 years old.
Thomas Dorsett was sentenced to 45 years in prison.
After her arrest for Moore’s murder and while still in jail, Kathleen contacted her mother and the two hatched a plot to murder Moore’s mother, Evlyn, who’d been given temporary custody of Elizabeth. Lesley Dorsett paid $1,000 to a “hit man” who turned out to be a police informant. She was arrested, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge and was sentenced to seven years behind bars.
Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Marc LeMieux displayed pictures of Moore’s charred body inside the car’s trunk that drew gasps from the packed gallery. He also read a statement from Evlyn Moore in which she called the Dorsetts “cold-blooded killers” to whom she “has nothing to say.” She wrote that Elizabeth, now 4, is a happy child but will never know her father and mother.
At their sentencing, both Kathleen and Thomas Dorsett gave lengthy apologies for their behavior, but neither the judge nor the prosecutor believed they were truly remorseful.
Though she denied the plot was over custody, Mellaci said “that’s exactly what this was over — control.”
“This is a narcissistic individual. Her crocodile tears get turned on and off seemingly at will,” the judge said. “This is really an American family tragedy on so many levels, and the responsibility for it falls mainly on this defendant’s feet.”
Kathleen and Thomas Dorsett will likely die in prison. Lesley Dorsett will be out all too soon, a fact that must make Evlyn Moore’s blood run cold. Even if Lesley serves her full sentence, Elizabeth will still be only 11 when she gets out.
Amazingly, this was all about custody of a child. People of all descriptions go to the most extreme lengths when it comes to children. By all accounts, Stephen Moore was a thoroughly decent and likeable guy and utterly devoted to his daughter. From here it looks like that’s what spurred Kathleen to action. If he’d been a bum who cared nothing for his child, my guess is he’d be alive today. But because he not only loved her deeply, but was such a good father too, Kathleen feared he’d get primary custody. After all, the judge in the criminal case called her a narcissist and narcissism’s not the type of behavior that’s easily controlled. In short, Kathleen probably looked at the two of them and could see how she might come up short in the Loving Parent Department. She could have foreseen herself not only losing primary custody, but paying child support as well.
So, with her father’s help, she hatched a plot that would be comical in its incompetence had it not taken the life of a fine man and loving father.
It seems that some people think of children as possessions, and extremely valuable ones at that. The idea of murdering a child’s dearly-loved father because he might get custody just boggles my mind. I’m well aware of the phenomenon of maternal gatekeeping in which mothers take it on themselves to decide the extent of a fathers’ involvement with their children. Kathleen Dorsett’s murder of Stephen Moore looks like the extreme end of the maternal gatekeeping spectrum.
It also looks like domestic violence. I say this solely because no one — literally no one — else has. The Stephen Moore murder has been reasonably big news in the Asbury Park region of New Jersey and has gotten broader coverage as well by major news outlets. Over three years, dozens of articles have been written about the case and its progress. Radio and television have aired news about it many times. But not one has called the murder what it obviously is — domestic violence.
That’s made even more remarkable by the Assistant County Attorney’s description of Kathleen Dorsett’s motive for her crime — “control.” The domestic violence industry is none too consistent about its many definitions of domestic violence, but one concept we often see is that of control. According to that occasional definition, perpetrators of DV do so to control the behavior of the other person. That’s exactly what Kathleen Dorsett did. When the family court failed to sufficiently separate Elizabeth from her father, Kathleen took matters into her own hands. She wanted to control his access to his daughter and she did.
So where are the descriptions of this heinous crime as “domestic violence?” The news media have scrupulously avoided calling the crime by one of its proper names, and in so doing perpetuate the false notion that women don’t commit domestic violence against men. Even though half of all DV is committed by women against men, our culture just can’t seem to come to grips with the fact. Just last week, The New Yorker magazine ran a thoroughly scurrilous five-page article about domestic violence that never mentioned the possibility that a woman could be the perpetrator. That’s 37 years after the first study for the National Institute for Mental Health showed parity in perpetration between the sexes. 37 years!
And it’s not just that the media keep the public ill-informed. The disinformation distorts a whole range of public policies that have everyday consequences for countless people. Family judges routinely give custody to mothers and that often happens because those same judges have been steeped in the lore of domestic violence that holds all men to be dangerous to their female partners. So those judges prove themselves to be uniquely willing to look unsceptically at mothers’ claims of domestic violence leveled at their husbands in custody cases.
Then there’s the fact that hundreds of millions of dollars every year are spent to protect women from DV, but essentially nothing to protect men. And we wonder why domestic violence goes on and on every year.
The sentencing of the Dorsetts is good news. But the news media’s role in obscuring the fact that Stephen Moore’s brutal murder was a domestic violence homicide goes some way to ensuring that something similar will happen again.
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