Henry da Massa celebrated Christmas (and three months at home) with his daughter Pearl this past Sunday. Here’s the latest article (The Sudbury Star, 12/27/11).
I’ve written a couple of pieces about da Massa. Here’s one of them. He’s the British dad who’s ex-wife first accused him of child abuse and, when the courts investigated and found her allegations to be meritless, fled with the girl who was then four.
But before Helen Gavaghan ran, she carefully planned the abduction. She apparently got large cash advances from on her credit card and of course left the issuer high and dry when she disappeared. She then had a friend tell da Massa that she and Pearl were going to India for a two-week holiday. That left him assuming all was well long enough for her to make her getaway.
Gavaghan went to Mexico where she apparently changed her and Pearl’s names for the first time. She would change them three more times over the years. The two then walked across the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas where they once again disappeared. They were once sited in Toronto which became the cite of the international hunt that eventually resulted in her apprehension. She was jailed and Pearl was returned to the custody of her father in England. Gavaghan was extradited to England where she awaits trial, presumably on the child abduction charge and, I assume, charges of defrauding a credit card company.
When Gavaghan was discovered in Canada, she had been assisted by the Catholic Worker organization there. The Catholic Worker establishes “houses of hospitality” in Mexico and the U.S. to assist undocumented aliens. The houses provide shelter, food, clothing and an opportunity to find work and a place to live mostly to people from Mexico and Central America. My guess is that Gavaghan went from city to city from Texas to Canada, staying temporarily at the Catholic Worker houses of hospitality. The reason I think so is that she was found in such a house in Canada and it would be a perfect way to travel across this country virtually free of charge and completely anonymous. It would be an ideal way to “disappear,” which is what she and Pearl did.
Of course Gavaghan told the same story to the Catholic Worker volunteers that she told to the British courts – that Henry da Massa was a darkly satanic figure who abused his little daughter. The difference of course is that the courts investigated and determined Gavaghan’s claims were fabricated; the Catholic Worker folks didn’t ask questions and swallowed her claims whole.
Now it appears that still more of her claims were bogus. For example, when she was arrested, Gavaghan claimed that Pearl had been well cared for. Now, how well can you care for a child when you’re constantly on the run, looking over your shoulder, staying in free shelters and changing your and the child’s names every few months? The answer is, “not very.”
But Gavaghan also claimed that she’d home-schooled the girl and given her proper medical and dental care. Along with every other word out of Helen Gavaghan’s mouth, those too seem to be false.
“She’s got some catching up to do with her education and we are both back to where a father-daughter relationship should be.Yes, and then there’s that “hardcore alienation” da Massa mentioned. Helen Gavaghan did that as well, trying to convince Pearl, like everyone else, that her father was an evil, abusive man.
“It didn’t take very long to accomplish, even after three years of hardcore alienation she’s been subjected to,” Da Massa said.
“She’s incredibly smart, but the notion that she was being home-schooled was a fabrication and excuse, really. She hadn’t seen a doctor.
“She’s now seen a doctor, the dentist, a social worker.
Funny, she’s been with him for three months, and seems to be doing fine. No evidence of abuse, no dark satanic rituals, just a father and his daughter getting to know one another again after three years, almost half her life.
Amazingly, da Massa clearly sees his daughter’s continuing need for her mother. He also understands that, however fractured, however weird and dsyfunctional, he, Pearl and Helen are still a family.
“We need to function as a normal-ish, fragmented family.”His are the words of a father who “gets it.” Henry da Massa has a feel for what his daughter needs and seems determined to give it to her despite all the wrongs Helen Gavaghan has done to everyone her careering life’s path has touched. Sadly, given all those malicious wrongs, Helen Gavaghan should never have more than closely supervised visitation with her daughter. Her willingness to impose her own distortions of Henry da Massa on Pearl should forever make greater freedom of contact with the girl out of the question. She’s flouted court orders before; there’s no reason to doubt she’d do it again.
And of course, she should spend a good many years behind bars. We’ll see.