The hidden half of domestic violence
How to have eternal life
It is very possible that MR. Yates can end up spending far more time in prison then MRS. Yates. SHE can be found "insane" and it is very possible she could be out of a hospital in weeks and HE can be found guilty of involuntary manslaughter because he did not get her help. If that were do happen, how many of you would be willing to risk money on her waiting for him?
In Defense of Russell
by Glenn J. Sacks
My latest column, "In Defense of Russell Yates," ran today in the
Houston Chronicle. The column is pasted below and is available at
I will be discussing the Monday night on The Stacy Taylor Show on
KOGO AM 600 in San Diego at 8 PM. Also, I will be on The Al Rantel Show
on KABC AM 790 in Los Angeles at 7 PM Pacific time later this week--the
exact date will be on my website.
Monday, March 11, 2002
In Defense of Russell Yates
by Glenn J. Sacks
"It's a shame that there's no law that can give Russell Yates his due,"
writes syndicated columnist Debra Saunders. "Russell Yates ought to be
locked up instead of his wife," says writer Cindy Hasz. Creators
Syndicate's Froma Harrop sneers that he probably "misses the obedient
drudge who bore and raised his five children more than the five children."
Harsh words for Russell Yates have come from many others, particularly
former O. J. Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark.
What these and others forget is that it's hard to make the right decision
when you don't have a lot of options. According to Andrea Yates' brother,
Andrew Kennedy, Russell Yates "did his best....He trusted the doctors and
he did everything they said to do. He made sure she took her medication."
Psychiatrist Mohammed Saeed took Yates off the drug Haldol on June 4.
Russell Yates, worried about his wife, brought her back to Dr. Saeed on
June 18. The doctor said he saw no sign of psychosis and sent her home.
Two days later, she killed their five children.
Instead of using 20-20 hindsight, let's look at the situation as it must
have appeared to Russell Yates before June 20. Mental illness is difficult
for untrained people to cope with and to comprehend. Dr. Saeed had
indicated that he believed that Andrea Yates was getting better, and
Andrea herself has testified that she told nobody, not even her husband,
about the "voices in her head." While Russell surely had doubts about
leaving the kids with her, he didn't have a lot of choices. He couldn't
quit his job to care for the kids--somebody had to put food on the table.
Ending the home-schooling, a violation of both of their beliefs, might
have been a severe blow to his fragile wife's self-esteem, perhaps pushing
her over the edge.
Instead, Russell made the one move he needed to make--he brought his
mother in from Tennessee to watch the kids every day. He generally left
for work at 9 am and his mother arrived at 10 am, and he thought he had
the situation under control.
He also probably believed that the best thing to do was to try to keep
their family life stable, to try to be cheerful and to make the kids
happy, and to hope that the medications would work and that his wife would
get better. He may have believed that much of what Andrea was going
through was simply post-pregnancy mood swings, and that the best thing to
do is to be patient and to wait them out. He also attributed much of his
wife's distress to the death of her father early last year. And he no
doubt was in some denial, as people who are trapped in difficult
situations often are. But should he really have expected that his
troubled wife would kill their children?
The genuine mistakes Russell Yates made came earlier, when both he and
Andrea decided to have a fifth child (perhaps because one or both of them
wanted to have a girl), and when they decided upon home-schooling. Yet
these decisions, which are now used against Russell, were mutual and were
based upon the religious and moral beliefs of both Russell and Andrea. In
fact, the testimony of Terry Arnold, a local merchant, indicates that
Andrea Yates may have wanted a sixth child. Arnold testified that when he
asked Andrea last year if they planned to have another child, a sudden
wave of sadness washed over her.
"I felt like I had hit a sore subject," Arnold said. "There was a change
in her demeanor...I thought she was going to cry."
Andrea's best friend claims that Russell didn't help out much around the
house. It's hard to know how true this is, but we do know that Russell
Yates was involved with his kids--he coached their sports teams, played
basketball with them in the driveway regularly, selected and purchased
some of their school materials, and was often seen around the neighborhood
in the evenings as he walked with his family and pushed his youngest
daughter in a stroller. He and his kids made lists of things they could
do to cheer mommy up. And Russell alone shouldered the burden of
supporting a wife and five children--a task certainly equal to the strain
of being a housewife if home schooling is not in the equation.
Andrea Yates' defenders claim that she is not guilty of her crimes due to
mental illness, and they may be correct. But the husband who has stood by
his wife from the day of the tragedy, who has testified in her defense,
and who has fought the public perception of her as a monster, deserves
better than to be blamed for the murders and to be vilified as a cruel,
domineering patriarch. Russell Yates is a flawed yet decent human being
who tried to do what he could in a difficult and cloudy situation. Whether
sane or insane, it is Andrea Yates, not Russell Yates, who killed their
Glenn writes about gender issues from the male perspective. His columns
have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Houston Chronicle, the San
Francisco Chronicle, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the San Diego
Union-Tribune, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Los Angeles Daily News,
the Salt Lake City Tribune, the Memphis Commercial-Appeal, and the
Washington Times. He invites readers to visit his website at
Copyright © 2001 - 2002. Glenn J. Sacks All Rights Reserved.
Glenn J. Sacks Home: http://www.glennjsacks.com/index.html
Houston Chronicle links to this commentary and to other related articles:
In defense of a flawed but decent Russell Yates
by GLENN SACKS -- Houston Chronicle, 10 Mar 02
Special Report 5 children drowned [index of articles]
(please click above to vote for this site)
JUNE is Domestic Violence Against Men Awareness Month