OGDEN -- A Weber State University club is inviting the public to write letters to the judge who oversaw the divorce settlement that sent 4-year-old Ethan Stacy from Florida to Utah, where prosecutors say he died of abuse at the hands of his mother and stepfather.
The public may attend a public letter-writing campaign from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday in the main computer laboratory inside the Student Union Building at Weber State University.
Prewritten letters also may be dropped off at that time to be mailed along with those written that day.
The club asks participants to bring their own stamps or be prepared to donate 50 cents or more for postage.
Florida Judge Maura T. Smith, who oversaw the divorce of Joe and Stephanie Stacy, has said there was no indication in court that the boy might be in danger with his mother. Stephanie married Nathanael Sloop after Ethan arrived in Utah.
Joe Stacy, the boy's father, wrote in divorce papers that the boy's mother was unstable and had abandoned the youngster, though the judge said she never read that.
But in the divorce settlement, Joe Stacy finally agreed to share custody of the boy. Ethan was to spend the school year with his father and summers with his mother.
"Little Ethan Stacy died as a result of the little amount of time actually spent on what turned out to be just another 'paper stamping' case for a judge," said Lee Johnson, founder of the Men of Weber.
"The same governments that are so stringent on marital requirements are less likely to be rigid at all when assessing divorce proceedings."
LaVarr McBride, an assistant criminal justice professor at WSU and faculty adviser to the Men of Weber, said he believes the event will raise awareness.
"Sometimes what happens is, judges don't have all the information," said McBride, a former federal probation officer in Washington, D.C.
"Judges need to be aware that they need to take care when potentially putting children in harm's way."
Johnson said the group's goal is to mail 500 to 1,000 letters to Smith.
"This is a healthy way for the public to voice their feelings and concerns over the death of an innocent child in which a better judgment should have been made," Johnson wrote in a news release.
"The general public has an opportunity to speak out in behalf of little Ethan Stacy."
McBride said he believes the event will make a positive impact as long as participants keep it in perspective.
"It's a positive thing as long as people don't make it an opportunity to be angry at the judge. It's a very tough job to be a judge."
But McBride said the awareness aspect and the community involvement of the event can be constructive.
The Men of Weber is an organization that speaks out in favor of men taking responsibility for society's problems with domestic violence.
"It is sad what happened to little Ethan, but we need to react in a proper way," Johnson said. "What we need to do is look what's going on in (our lives)."
He said people should ask themselves: "What are the women doing in your life? Do these women have boyfriends that they shouldn't have?"
Johnson said the social-advocacy group also hopes to honor those men who take a stand against domestic violence.
Ethan's mother and stepfather, Stephanie and Nathanael Sloop, have been charged with aggravated murder and are being held in Davis County Jail.
Information from The Associated Press is included in this article.