Ottawa Citizen
Saturday 9 December 2000

Letters from the family:
We implore you to show compassion

Maria Rita Martino-Bonacci
Citizen Special
Ottawa Citizen

Pat McGrath, The Ottawa Citizen / Frank and Maria Bonacci leave court during a recent sentencing hearing for their daughter, Teresa. The couple came to Canada in 1968 from Italy, and worked hard to build a new life.

As a "victim" in this case, I know that a problem exists and it created much turmoil in my life, friends, and the community. In order to resolve this problem, I feel that jail time will not be a solution to this problem; both for me as a victim and my daughter as the accused.

It was not family's intention to create chaos in our community and we will do everything, in our humanly power to make sure that a further offence will never happen again.

This is to express to you my concerns about getting proper care for my daughter, Teresa Bonacci. Teresa was born in Canada in 1971. She is my only daughter and my hopes and dreams for her have been shattered by her recent loss of freedom.

Frank and I came from Italy in 1968 and have worked very hard all our lives to provide the best for our children and to ensure the best future possible in Canada. We also worked honestly in the community to help others like us to become better citizens of this generous country. The first five years of Teresa's life she stayed with her grandmother and four uncles, while Frank and I worked to accumulate a downpayment for our first house.

The emotional and physical separation at this time was quite hard on both Teresa and I as a mother. She spent the rest of her years with us at the suggestion of Dr. Taylor, school psychologist at the Separate School Board at that time. Teresa was always timid, shy and at times irritable, withdrawn, with very few friends. She had difficulty verbally expressing her emotions, particularly anger. At 18 years of age, Teresa suffered her first personal serious trauma (which is documented in doctor's report).

The family (especially myself) was not aware of Teresa's crisis but her inability to express herself and her emotional immature behaviour, even today is very noticeable. She is also displaying low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence. This leads me to believe there is no doubt that I have neglected my responsibility as a mother and as a friend to insist that Teresa seek psychiatric or psychological counselling.

God only knows how I wish I could help with Teresa's inability to cope with unsuccessful completion of university, as there was a great deal of family pressure to succeed.

Teresa was also very fearful of her father's anger. More pressure was placed on her to succeed at work with a full-time position, as well as in a long-term relationship leading to marriage.

It is the deep and total belief of the family that Teresa suffered from a mental illness that lead to these two major devastating events to our lives and her life, one is the dealing with the law for the first time in our lives and the second is the mental illness which has not been treated.

Each day of Teresa's life, she punished herself, and it was felt tenfold by each one of us in the family. With a broken spirit, scattered thoughts and weak bodies we (I as a mother especially) implore you to show compassion towards Teresa's state of mind and the unity of this small family (Frank, Maria, Luigi and Teresa) before making any further painful decisions.

Our family has been on a Calvary road ever since Feb. 24, 1999, at 4:30 p.m. and therefore I come to implore you that after accepting all the lashes from the media informed the same evening of the events, our life will never be the same and I feel that it turned into a media frenzy. Therefore, we are appealing to your compassion on behalf of a fragile, naive and simple personality of Teresa who has found herself in this chaos.

You have the power to help us put our lives and Teresa's life on the right path of rehabilitation with the help of our health-care system. We request that you look compassionately at our family's plea to free Teresa from jail so that she can receive the care that she needs.

Maria Rita Martino-Bonacci

Copyright 2001 Ottawa Citizen Group Inc.