April 17, 2013

“One day you will stand before almighty God and be accountable for that which you have done here on Earth, and no amount of lies and manipulation, no ‘Frontline’ presentation will be able to hide the truth from him. He knows every sordid detail and I pity you for that.”

– From a statement read by Little Rascals parent Susan Small at the plea-agreement hearing of Scott Privott (June 16, 1994)

On the scale of responsibility for brutalizing the Edenton Seven, the panicked, misinformed parents may rank as least culpable. They were neither demagoguing public servants (the prosecutors) nor overreaching professionals (the therapists). Even so, Susan Small’s tirade seemed gratuitously vitriolic – as if her own beliefs might have needed reinforcing?

I asked Scott Privott what it felt like being on the receiving end that day in the courtroom.

“I almost got up and told her to shut the hell up and that I would let the state put me on trial,” he said. “I thought to myself that I was glad God would judge me and not her and her pathetic cohorts.”

Scott’s recollection of his earlier knowledge of Susan Small highlights the Lilliputian stage on which the sprawling Little Rascals drama played out:

“I was in college with Susan Small’s husband, Morris; in fact, Morris and I used to ride together from Edenton to Elizabeth City to attend classes at the College of the Albemarle. Susan was at the college too, but I didn’t know her that well. Morris was my banker at the time of my arrest.”

A third member of the car pool: Jay Swicegood, another accusing parent.

“I am not like some of those who’ve been falsely accused and hold no ill feelings,” Scott says. “I have plenty of ill feelings, and I do not for one moment wish them any good tidings.”

Idle thought: Might it mitigate Scott’s bitterness if someone – anyone! – who participated in putting him behind bars for three years and eight months had the courage to apologize?