FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 4, 2010
Contact: Bob Weiner/Gavriel Swerling 301-283-0821/202-306-1200
(Washington, DC) – Ex-White House aide Robert Weiner and Noah Merksamer, policy analyst for Robert Weiner Associates, are asking why Lawrence and Marianne Sunderland are not being prosecuted for endangering their daughter, a minor, by allowing and expediting her extremely high risk, life-threatening solo boat voyage around the globe.
In a column in the July 4 Ventura County Star (California), the paper near the Sunderlands, Weiner and Merksamer say, “On June 10, sixteen-year old Abby Sunderland of Thousand Oaks, CA nearly lost her life -- with her parents' permission. Instead of merely questioning the decision of Laurence and Marianne Sunderland to place their daughter in the middle of the Indian Ocean by herself during storm season, the media should be asking why legal action has not been pursued.”
The authors cite California Penal Code 273: Any parent who “willfully causes or permits that child to be placed in a situation where his or her person or health is endangered” can be charged with Child Endangerment.
Weiner and Merksamer continue, “The young would-be world sailor became stranded in a remote part of the ocean when a storm wrecked her boat, Wild Eyes (even the name is a message). Waves and hurricane force winds left her helpless in the broken sailboat.”
“If leaving an infant in a hot car for too long is considered a felony by California's child endangerment laws, shouldn’t sending a minor on an enormously high risk, solo voyage across the globe, with no rescue boat or plane nearby, qualify?”
Weiner and Merksamer include the possibility that Abby’s voyage was a publicity stunt for the parents—the father engaged in discussions for a reality TV show but so far has turned down the contract.
Weiner and Merksamer assert, “Parents are supposed to guide teen know-it-alls. None of us is that far removed from our teenage years, when we thought we had judgment but later realized we hadn't. That’s what parents are for. We fondly look back and remember our parents saying ‘No.’”
“This is the second time that the Sunderlands have expedited their children to risk life. Last year, they allowed Abby’s brother Zac, 17, to undertake a solo circumnavigation of the globe.”
Source: Robert Weiner Associates