Famous Last Words — “It Was an Accident”

By Danni Moss
Copyright protected, all rights reserved

There were a couple events in the news recently which stood as dichotomous endposts to the ever-popular statement, “It was an accident!”

City Councilman Bill Borchert was briefly suspected of domestic violence when his wife’s back injury took her to the hospital. A hospital worker contacted the authorities to investigate when Laura Mauffrey Borchert told medical staff she had injured her back when her husband pushed her during an argument. Upon interviewing Mrs. Borchert the authorities decided no crime had occurred.

However, there was much to note in the brief news article to which I have linked.

First of all, Mrs. Borchert “was appalled” that the hospital worker contact the authorities about her case. I sincerely hope, but suspect my hope is probably in vain, that the medical staff member was applauded rather than being reprimanded for his/her action. Reporting this incident to the authorities was exactly what this hospital worker should have done, without being intimidated or overawed by the office of the person under suspicion. In fact, I wish the rest of the system had proceeded on the same basis. It appears to me that the rest of the system closed ranks around the councilman, which happens with great frequency. This leaves the wives/children/girlfriends of civil servants, pastors, and the famous and influential in great jeopardy.

Second, in my opinion it seems glaringly obvious that something is seriously amiss in this relationship and this incident. You see, “it was an accident” that Mrs Borchert was hurt because she was wearing heels. Since she was wearing heels he gets a free pass on admittedly shoving his wife during an argument. It doesn’t matter if his wife says it wasn’t in a violent way. He laid his hands on his wife in the heat of an argument and he shoved her. It does not matter if it was a “tiny” shove or a monstrous one. He laid his hands on his wife during an argument. The motivation is the problem, not the velocity of impact!

Also, something everyone should be remembering is that both of these people have a lot to lose if Mr. Borchert were seriously suspected of domestic violence. Their lifestyle and community position goes down the drain, even without a legal conviction. There is no way to know whether Mrs. Borchert is intimidated or a willing participant. But it would be foolish to think that this issue of status is not front and center in consideration here.

Community leaders who are aware of the dynamics of domestic abuse need to do more than take their word for it – in every community, because this type of thing happens everywhere. When someone of prominence is in a situation like this the incident requires more scrutiny, not less. If the situation were, in fact, innocent, both the councilman and his wife should be grateful and applauding the community servants who care enough out abuse in their town to not play favorites or “look the other way” for some people.

This situation highlights several fundamental problems. A lot of communities think they have “all the pieces in place” to accurately address domestic violence. This situation reveals that this idea is a misperception. As long as this state exists, people remain in danger in every community.

However, back to the original bit that brought this so powerfully to my attention. Both Mr. and Mrs. Borchert said “it was an accident.” This was NOT an accident! The simple fact that they were both willing to excuse it with such a patent falsehood, is scary. It was not an accident that Mr. Borchert laid his hands on his wife. Her fall was a direct result of his wrong choice.

On the other hand, the news recently featured the tragic event of actress Natasha Richardson’s death. Now that was an accident. An accident is an unforeseeable event which occurs for no logical reason. Accidents happen – but not as a result of deliberate wrong choices. Natasha Richardson’s passing is truly a tragic accident, worthy of being mourned.

The debacle of Mr. Borchert’s assault of his wife during an argument — is not.

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