The Charlottesville jury recommended a sentence of 26 years for George Huguely V for the murder of Yeardley Love. Ms. Love's village continues to mourn her death; Mr. Huguely's village is mortified and silent.
The phrase "It takes a village to raise a child" has been overused to the point of triteness, but there remains an important truth in it: Our children are raised as much by our neighbors, friends, family and teachers as they are by us. When our children succeed, the village succeeds; when our children fail, the village looks left and right and wonders what it could have done differently. I have observed this raising my three children. In every clear note sung on the stage, in every A on a report card, in each moment of grace or kindness that emerges, I see the work of the teachers who gave them an intellectual foundation, a choir master with high expectations, family members who showered them with love and affection, and the everyday generosity of their friends' parents who, at sleepovers and in carpools, encouraged and supported my children and nudged them toward success.
My life story is filled with the same characters: swim team moms who kept a watchful eye on my friends and me, keeping us on the go and mostly out of trouble; a teacher who first addressed me as "Mr. Awalt" and made me realize that I was worthy of the respect of an adult; a mom who called me on my failure to rise to the occasion and support another friend who was in trouble; a friend's father who was a lawyer who opened up the possibility of law school and what has become my career.
Yeardley Love and George Huguely had villages too — family and friends who guided them on an off the lacrosse field, on a path to the University of Virginia, one of the most elite public schools in the nation. I am certain that every adult in their lives felt pride in their academic and athletic success. In the same way, all the adults in their villages feel an aching loss, though it is not a shared pain. It is different for Ms. Love's group than for Mr. Huguely's.
I read a lot about Yeardly Love's family and friends and just about nothing about George Huguely's, and I wonder about the day Ms. Love was murdered. On Sunday, May 2, 2010, Mr. Huguely, his lacrosse teammates and their fathers, played golf, drinking throughout the day. Mr. Huguely is reported to have begun drinking before the outing in the morning and continued drinking throughout the golf match and into the evening, creating a scene when he dropped a wine bottle at the dinner table. His teammates and their fathers were there, and I suspect that each of them now feels, along with a stab of regret, perhaps a twinge of guilt.
Who gave him another beer at the 8th hole? Who had a hand on Mr. Huguely's shoulder at the bar at the day's end? Could one of them have stopped him from drinking more? Was there a moment at dinner where one of them said, "George, that's enough — it's time to go back home"? I suspect that some friend or father, somewhere, is saying: "If only I had sat down and spoken to him. If only I had urged him to get some counseling." It is not reported that anyone did so, only that his friends thought about it but never had the intervention that he, and Yeardley Love, so badly needed.
I don't know any of the Loves, or any of their extended family, though I see Yeardley Love's village in action almost every day: the One Love Foundation Day at the baseball park, the hundreds of supporters at the Komen Walk for the Cure, daily posts on Facebook from her family and friends supporting her, celebrating her life, mourning her death. On the day that George Huguely V took a recommended sentence that was longer in years than his age, no one raised their hand, took an oath, to say any words in his support.
Stephen B. Awalt is an attorney in Towson. His email is email@example.com.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun