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FEATURE The Public Tragedy of Pamela. Reeves BY BOB ELDER John Franklin had already brought Pamela Reeves to Fort Worths West Side Clinic for one abortion, so it was understandable that a second visit in 1995almost a year to the day from the firstdid not sit well with the teenager. The slight and pale thirteen-year-old fainted in the lobby of the clinic Franklin carried her to a couch in the waiting room and asked clinic personnel if he could stay with her while she waited for her abortion,. N. o, clinic workers told Franklin, Pamela was going to wait in an area where only women are allowed. Franklin got up to leave, but before he did, according to a report by a Euless Police Department detective, “they kissed on the mouth while she stroked his head and said to him, ‘I love you.’ Franklin told clinic workers that he was Pamela’s father and that a student “had gotten Pamela pregnant,” the report says. John Franklin wasn’t Pamela Reeves’ father. He was the boyfriend of Pamela’s mother, Donna Bohn Reeves, and over the past two years he had been having sex with Pamela. One part of the girl’s tragedy is over: John Franklin is serving thirty years in a state prisonfor aggravated sexual assault of a child. Yet Pamela Reeves’ tragedy continues, and in a very public way. Aided by a lawyer affiliated with the Rutherford Institute \(a legal organization most recently in the news for preparing Paula Pamela’s father, Harlon Reeves, has presented his daughter’s situation as a compelling case for a “parental consent” law. Reeves tried to intervene in an Austin lawsuit that challenged a parental consent rider to the state budget bill; he has appealed the rejection of his intervention to the Texas Supreme Court; he has filed a civil lawsuit against the West Side Clinic for performing the abortions; and he has testified before a state Senate committee on the need for laws requiring parental consent. In short, he has made his daughter a poster child for the issue. In doing so, Harlon Reeves has discarded the usual privacy that newspapers and court records provide to women who have been sexually assaultedparticularly victims who are minors. Reeves’ public crusade is understandable, however, and to some it is even admirable: he has channeled his rage and grief into the arena of public policy. In legislative testimony in February, Harlon Reeves told state senators, “There’s nothing more disgusting than to get a phone call from a total stranger, you have no idea who they are, they identify themselves as CPS [child protective services], and they tell you your child has had two abortions, one at twelve, one at thirteen.” He later added: “I was numb all over when I heard of it. And I was outraged when I heard that any child can walk into an abortion clinic, with no parental consent, no notification, and consent on their own at any age they become pregnant.” Given the outrageous facts of his daughter’s abuse, it’s easy to see why Pamela’s case inspires those who work for a parental consent law for Texas. But what lies below the surface argument? Does the case of Pamela Reeves make a good argument for parental consent laws? Alot of things went wrong in Pamela Reeves’ life before she ended up at the mercy of John Franklin. This is by no means the full storysome material is simply unavailable. Pamela’s mother, who has moved around North Texas in recent years and now lives in Arlington, couldn’t be reached. Harlon Reeves, who now lives with Pamela and her sister in Haltom City, a solidly blue-collar suburb of Fort Worth, didn’t return phone messages forwarded by his attorney. Many records concerning Pamela are not public because she is a minor. State child-welfare workers, for example, can say nothing about the case. A complicating factor in Pamela’s history is the question of her mental capacity. In the civil suit against the West Side Clinic and in legislative testimony, Reeves said his daughter is retarded, with an IQ of between 40 and 65 and the intelligence and maturity of a 6-to-8-year-old. Her mental capacity is not mentioned in other court files, including the Reeves’ divorce case and the criminal case against John Franklin. A partial story, however, does unfold from various Tarrant County records, and it is a revealing one for the issue of minors and abortion. Pamela was born two weeks before Christmas 1981 in Norfolk, Virginia, where Harlon Reeves was stationed in the Navy. The Reeves’ first child, also a girl, was born fourteen months earlier. Harlon had married Donna Lynette Bohn in the summer of 1978. He was seventeen and Donna was eighteen. By mid-1983, the couple’s divorce file shows, Harlon and Donna had separated. The divorce was not a quiet one. In early 1984 Donna won a temporary restraining order against Harlon; she complained about threats to her and the children, vulgar language, harassing latenight phone calls. Shortly after that restraining order was granted, Harlon won a default judgment when Donna failed to appear for a hearing. Donna, however, contested the ruling, saying Harlon and his lawyer had tricked her into believing the lawyer would represent both of them. Donna hired a lawyer for herself, contested the judgment, and won a new hearing. The divorce became final in May 1984. Harlon’s child support payments were set at $275 a month. Donna won what is called “managing conservatorship,” or primary custody, of both children, and Harlon retained visitation rights. Harlon Reeves stayed in the Navy, moving from base to base, until he retired sometime in the 1990s. Donna worked a series of low-wage jobs in and around Fort Worth. In her most recent letter THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13 NOVEMBER 21, 1997