God Bless the Child: A True Story of Child Abuse, Gambling, Southern Politics and One Woman's...

James Colbert, Author Atheneum Books $22 (205p) ISBN 978-0-689-12167-8
A woman's campaign against child abuse, a courtroom drama and political infighting over Mississippi's gambling laws are elements in this stirring report. Its focus is Sue Hathorn, who sought funding for a center for abused children that she opened in Jackson. Despite her adherence to Baptism, which frowns on gambling, Hathorn became partners with Robert Malone, owner of a bingo parlor, who faced racketeering charges for allegedly running a high-stakes racket under the guise of a charitable organization. Mississippi's attorney general Mike Moore--portrayed here as politically ambitious and overzealous--held that bingo, being a type of lottery, was illegal under the state constitution, but the Mississippi Supreme Court disagreed and cleared Malone in 1990. Intertwined with these proceedings is the searing account of a nine-year-old girl sexually abused by her stepfather; we see her lost in a maze of courts and shelters, a bureaucracy the author implicitly condemns as irresponsible. Crime novelist Colbert ( Skinny Man ) draws on court records, interviews, and verbatim and reconstructed conversations to show how families and child protective services are failing our children. Photos. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/04/1993
Release date: 01/01/1993
Genre: Nonfiction
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