Less than an hour after listening to her parents plead guilty to their role in a bizarre kidnapping case, 20-year-old Katelyn Kampf vowed she would neither forgive nor forget what they did to her.
“I want to tell them how much they hurt me & and how angry I am. I’ve never heard my mom say she was sorry, ever,” she said.
The case that has been called “an American family tragedy” began one morning September 2006, in North Yarmouth, Maine. Katelyn Kampf had just told her parents she was pregnant by her boyfriend, Reme Johnson, and had decided to keep the baby.
“They said, ‘it’s either abortion or adoption,’” she said.
Kampf said she got into a heated argument with her parents and contends that her mother held her down and spit on her and that her father “tackled her like a football player” when she left the house. They bound her and threw her in a car, Kampf said, in an effort to drive to New York and force her to have an abortion. She managed to escape in Salem, N.H., and call the police.
Pleading Guilty, with No Jail Time
In a plea agreement with the district attorney’s office, reached over Katelyn Kampf’s objections, her parents pled guilty to misdemeanor assault charges and disorderly conduct. Felony kidnapping charges were dropped, and the Kampfs will not serve any jail time.
But there was little evidence of any healing today. Neither one of the Kampf parents looked at their daughter or new grandson during the hour-long hearing. And Katelyn Kampf left the courtroom, crying, shortly after her parents arrived. She returned but then broke down and buried her face in her hands as she listened to her mother speak.
Contesting the Outcome
Kampf has long contended that race also played a role in her parent’s actions. Katelyn Kampf’s boyfriend Reme Johnson is black. She is white.
“I did tell the detectives at the time that I thought my parents were racist and that’s why they didn’t want me to have the baby,” she said.
If race did indeed play a role in the events, then Kampf may be able to pursue some other legal avenues against her parents. She is now working with an NAACP-affiliated Portland-based attorney Seth Berner, and hate crime charges are being considered.
Berner intends “to ask the state attorney general’s hate crimes division to look into this as well as the U.S. Attorney’s office. I’m not clear on federal law, but it may apply here.”
Attorneys for the Kampf parents flatly deny their clients are racist.
Bouncing Baby Boy
As for the baby at the heart of this case, D’Andre Johnson, he is now 9 months old with chubby cheeks and a mouth full of teeth that he displays in a big smile to virtually anyone who walks by. His mom describes him as a big “flirt” as she feeds him bits of French toast with her fingers.
And she is raising D’Andre on her own. Johnson, 23, is in a Connecticut jail awaiting deportation to his native South Africa because of several felony convictions, including receiving stolen property.
Kampf is now doing everything she can to try to help stay Johnson’s deportation order—including contacting congressional representatives.
As part of their plea agreement, the Kampfs have been ordered to undergo therapy, including sessions with their daughter. But Katelyn Kampf is adamant that will never happen.
Katelyn Kampf and son, D’Andre. Dad is behind bars.