When victims of crimes frequently appear in court, it is usually to make a plea to the judge, for the perpetrators of those crimes to receive a maximum sentence. But when Victoria Ruvolo make it a point to appear at her attacker’s sentencing in 2005, she did it for an entirely different reason.
VIDEOS BY INSPIRE MORE
Ruvolo wanted leniency. Leniency for a crime that left her entire face shattered and in a medically induced coma for weeks.
On Nov. 13, 2004, a little less than a year before he was sentenced, Ryan Cushing and several other Long Island teenagers were driving around with a frozen turkey that they’d purchased with a stolen credit card.
Then Cushing hurled it out the window, and it smashed through Ruvolo’s windshield, leaving her with a shattered jaw, fractured eye, crushed esophagus, and brain damage.
The district attorney later told her that Cushing’s friends had agreed to testify against him, meaning he could face a 25-year sentence. That’s when she started asking questions about Ryan and his life up to that point. Had he always been that way or was it just a matter of being young and succumbing to peer pressure?
“Because I’d experienced the death of two brothers when I was much younger, I felt strongly that I didn’t want be responsible for taking this other young person’s life. I didn’t want Ryan to rot in jail,”she recalled.
Instead of handing down the maximum sentence, the judge took Ruvolo’s request into consideration, and ultimately sentenced Cushing to six months in jail and probation. Once court was dismissed, Ruvolo recalled, he walked up to her with tears streaming down his face and apologized profusely for how his actions had affected her life.
She pulled him into a hug and told him, “Just do something good with your life, take this experience and do something good with your life.â€
Cushing spent his community service term speaking to 12- to 15-year-olds serving probation after pleading guilty for such crimes as shoplifting and assault.
But instead of washing his hands of the entire incident after his year was up, he continued volunteering with the program for an additional three years!
The program was created by a probation psychologist with the Suffolk County Probation Department, Robert Goldman, with whom Ruvolo co-authored a 2011 book, “No Room for Vengeance.â€
And even now she continues spreading the message about the healing power of forgiveness through that book and as a motivational speaker.
“Some people couldn’t understand why I’d done this but I felt God had given me a second chance and I wanted to pass it on,”she writes. “I know I did the right thing. Kids like Ryan don’t think about what they do. They think they’re invincible and everything will be OK. They don’t think about how every action has a reaction.â€
Share to spread her incredible message of compassion!
Want to be happier in just 5 minutes a day? Sign up for Morning Smile and join over 455,000+ people who start each day with good news.