Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Richardson Scandal

The Marietta Register, March 11, 1880

We are not anxious to publish what follows, but a newspaper must give the news and the safety of society requires that crime be exposed and the guilty prevented from covering the shame of exposure with a few paltry dollars.  It is due to the unfortunate, also, that they may know that the public fastens the principal guilt where it belongs.  The statement we have received is as follows:

Two or three years ago a girl of fourteen - a mere child - of respectable family and whose name, up to that time, was free from scandal became entangled in the meshes of him who is now charged with her ruin.  He was over fifty years old, she only a young school girl attending school up to the very day of her confinement.  The two were often seen together and under some very suspicious circumstances.  The neighbors noticed the intimacy and commented freely upon it, but forebore to mention their suspicions to her family out of feeling of delicacy.  But the father, thinking no ill of his daughter, remained unsuspicious.  She was at home early of nights, but frequently visited an attorney's office during the day.

For the last few months General Richardson has not been so much observed in her company.  A pistol bullet through the window of his house, last summer, and sundry other manifestations may have had their effect upon him.

Last Friday, a girl child was born and its parentage was charged upon Gen. Richardson.  It was not the first time he had been connected with similar scandals, though this is the darkest of them all.

The grief-stricken father sought Richardson's office and made known his errand.  The seducer replied he would do what he could, and if $500 would settle it he would pay that amount.  But he could only pay in installments of, say, $20 a month, this sum to go for the support of the child.

"What if you should die before it is paid?" the father asked.

"If I don't pay that before I die," Richardson replied, "I deserve to go to Hell."

"You will go there anyway," was the only response.

Finally a paper was signed and the first monthly installment of $20 was paid.

So the matter rests.  The victim of an old man's lust is crushed and threatens self-destruction, and the tongues of an excited public are busy in denouncing her destroyer.  How he would feel if the fair name of his own child were thus blasted we can not say, but he appears on the street as if nothing unusual had happened.

We know of no worse scandal in Marietta, or one that has ever provoked so much comment.  We are sorry for the seducer's family - deeply so - and we are sorry for the victim and her family; but there seems hardly a palliating circumstance in his case, yet we can not but feel a shade of pity even for him when we think of what he might have been.

Though others may be silent we are impelled to the performance of this unpleasant duty and it now remains to be seen what virtue there is in the court and bar of Marietta.

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