anne pressly & curtis vance: the uncomfortable unspoken reality

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Thursday, November 12th, 2009

anne pressly & curtis vance: the uncomfortable unspoken reality

for this post, i’m working under the assumption that most of you know the story of the rape and murder of little rock news anchor anne pressly. it’s a heartbreaking and deeply saddening story that received a little closure today with the announcement that vance was found guilty of all charges.

as a father to two daughters, i can’t begin to imagine what it would be like to be anne pressly’s parents and family. the deep, deep pain would be unbearable and it would be difficult to maintain any semblance of a normal life. it’s honestly hard for me to think about it as i write this.

on the other hand, though, as i watch all the coverage of the trial, i keep coming back to one particular thing: i have a deep sense of sorrow that goes out to curtis vance and his family.

in the midst of this horrific time for anne pressly’s family, there’s just something in me that keeps thinking about the loss that’s being experienced by curtis vance’s family. granted, they haven’t physically lost him like the pressly family, but they soon could if he’s sentenced to death and either way, he’s going to be locked in a cage for the rest of his life.

i want to be very clear: i don’t want to downplay the brutal nightmare that anne pressly experienced and that her family is now experiencing.

that is not my intent. rather, my intent is to shed light on the fringes. to uncover what’s been brushed away by society and to engage a conversation about what is culturally frowned-upon.

this, of course, is the acknowledgement that curtis vance—the killer, the rapist, the criminal—is a human being.

there’s an uncomfortable and unspoken reality in this all that there are multiple victims in this tragic case. anne pressly. her parents. her friends. her colleagues. the hillcrest community. our city of little rock. all victims.

but curtis vance also has a soul. he has a family. he has people who invested time in his life. he has grandparents. he has a Creator.

something isn’t right when people hurt and kill and rape and brutalize people. something isn’t as it should be. but that shouldn’t make us push those people away. rather, it should compel us to invest even more in those people. i’m not suggesting that curtis vance wouldn’t have still done this horrific thing, but i am suggesting his odds would have been better of making it. growing up in poverty pushes people to extremes. growing up in abusive situations radically alters peoples’ lives. having drug addicted parents tweaks what was once right and good.

i’m not saying curtis vance shouldn’t go to prison. he certainly should. i’m not saying curtis vance should be excused of his crimes. he certainly should not. and i’m not saying curtis vance was something who we’d all love to hang out with. he probably wasn’t.

but what i am saying is that we shouldn’t insist on the proverbial lock him up and throw away the key. we shouldn’t—as someone (a christian) said on facebook earlier—prime the needle! we should pray for curtis vance. we should pray for his family. we should look at him as a human being, a deeply troubled human being. we should, as jesus suggested, go visit him in prison. we should engage in the work of seeking out at-risk young people like curtis vance and investing in their future.

the death of anne pressly is a horrific tragedy. and so is the dismissal of curtis vance’s life. let us not forget either of those things.


  1. Morgon77 says:

    This is the conundrum for us as Christians. We don't live in the world as it should be, but rather as it is…but at the same time, we're trying to live and think as the world should be, not as it is.

    There are so many factors that have gone into producing the society that has produced the families that have produced these two individuals. And the circumstances that lead to one murdering the other.

    In the world as it should be, Curtis would never have killed this woman. In the world as it is, we need to protect the world from Curtis and people like him (though not, necessarily, from all of the pot dealers and buyers… tangent.), and yet we have the calling as Christians to minister to those who are in prison, who are abandoned, who are scarred and broken.

    Executing Curtis will, in one sense, remove his danger from the world. But it won't balance what he didn't…removing a person from this life doesn't balance the removal of another, as it adds nothing positive to our world.

    But our sense of gain as a culture is very immediate, very short term. So immediate satisfaction (well, after years of sitting on death row, and an insanely dangerous and expensive execution process) will remove Curtis from this world.

    And she will still be dead.

  2. Tsudohnimh says:

    Ryan, I can't express the amount of respect that I've gained for you after reading this post.

    Your expression of compassion and humanity is something we should all exhibit and this serves as an excellent reminder.

    Thank you for the best post I've read in quite sometime.


  3. Cara Beth says:

    Well put, my friend. Well put.

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