It has been almost exactly 9 years since my life as I knew it ended with the arrest of my ex-husband. I can say I am a “survivor,” but my life will never be what it would have been had this not happened. In the wake of Barry Lichtenthal, many people have been permanently damaged. Perhaps the best marker of a sociopath is the number of broken and wounded who fall on the paths of their lives. But I am lucky, as are the rest of those who survive life shared with a sociopath free of bodily damage.
I have come to understand that the bodily damage that sociopaths inflict is both direct and indirect. George Hartwig’s story gives us an example of both. It also causes us to pause and think about the issues of justice and recovery.
Before she was really mature enough to know better, Denise Richardson made the mistake of marrying George Hartwig. She then suffered years of physical and emotional torment, the stress from which I believe contributed to her early death from cancer. There are many, many victims for whom the stress of emotional abuse at the hands of a sociopath has caused physical illness- from cancer to infection to cardiovascular disease. Many victims thus die from their tragic relationship choices. Those who inflicted the stress that contributed to the deaths are never charged with a crime, and yet they, in a sense, commit murder. Sociopaths whose torment leads victims to suicide also commit murder.
The impact of George Hartwig on Denise Richardson and her family went even further. Following an argument with Denise’s mother, George shot Denise’s sister Louisa Rodas in the face; she lost an eye and she remains permanently brain damaged. Yesterday, Hartwig, now age 43, was sentenced to a 20-year term for the attempted murder of Louisa, and a consecutive 10-year term for the attempted murder of Rodas’ brother, Thomas Richardson. He must serve nearly 26 years before he can be considered for parole. Judge DeAvila-Silebi, also imposed a $100,000 fine and said she will hold a hearing on whether Hartwig, who may have received a settlement from a worker’s compensation claim, can make the payment.
Read: Lodi man gets 30 years for shooting sister-in-law in the face, on NorthJersey.com.
Denise and Louisa’s mother, BettyJean Downing- Kling, maintains a website, and posted the following on her blog, George Hartwig gets 30 years for shooting sister-in-law in the face:
DV Justice at last:
ON behalf of my daughters and their sons — I ask interested persons send letters to the Judge thanking her for her sentencing in the following case. Judge DeAvila-Silebi handed down a most fair sentence citing Domestic Violence statistics as her major consideration in making her final decision along with the testimony and guilty pleas of the defendant. It is apparent, this jurist sentenced George Hartwig to the full extent of the law within the bounds of the law, and she is to be commended for her careful, honest and thoughtful consideration of domestic violence and taking brutal offenders off the streets and refusing to fall for the defendants and his attorney’s arguments of mitigating circumstances. This Judge knows her business and we certainly need more of her on the bench all across this nation!
I, too, am glad that Hartwig received the toughest sentence possible, but why should this small modicum of justice be some unusual event that has us all writing thank you notes to the judge? Is there really any sentence here that would be considered “just” by any thinking person?
In my opinion, it is too late for justice in this case. Justice was only possible years ago when the abuse first happened, or maybe even earlier when Hartwig first manifested his disorder.
Sadly, often recovery is as incomplete as justice. What kind of life will BettyJean and her family have now that this case is finally “over”? We all wish them the most peace and happiness they can find, but we know life will not be the same as it would have been if they had never met George Hartwig.