Apparently the neighbors have 7 children, some of them adopted and disabled.
The mother of the children was caregiver not only to them but to her husband, who was in dementia.
Edmund Avis did everything he could to make his neighbors' lives miserable, from pulling unkind pranks on the children to calling their mother names to smearing feces on their wheelchair ramp.
If you've read the story you know that Avis was finally, after 15 years, convicted of disorderly conduct and part of his sentence included sitting for 5 hours on a busy street corner holding up a large placard describing his offense.
Just punishment, perhaps, but really?
Avis, while holding up his placard, spit on some passersby and proclaimed his innocence to anyone who asked. He wasn't sorry. He sounds seriously mentally ill to me.
Which begs to question as to whether public humiliation as punishment will have the least reformative effect on this individual. Now, someone like me? Sure, me in his shoes, I'd be drowning in remorse and mortification. But someone like Edmund Avis - well, is he even capable?
But the bigger question is, will his punishment stop his horrible behavior towards his neighbors? I ask, again, is he even capable?
I can guarantee you, his neighbors don't really care about his punishment. All they long for is some peace from this guy.
I know this is true because many years ago my family also suffered the experience of living next door to the neighborhood bully.
As a young couple soon expecting our first child, Tom and I had just bought our first house in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. It was a small house on the oldest street of the city, and was the first house built on the street. But we found this old house far more charming than the more modern homes that surrounded it, and though it was rather a fixer-upper, we were thrilled to get it.
But I must admit I had an uncomfortable inkling of the shape of things to come when on the day we moved in we found a man milling around in our living room.
He looked in his late 30's or early 40's, had a shaved head, a beard and bad teeth. He was tall and well-muscled and wore tight jeans, black motorcycle boots and a spiked leather wristband.
He told us he was our next-door neighbor and that the woman we'd bought the house from was his grandmother. He'd grown up in this house. His father had built the newer house next door and had been planning on selling that house and keeping this house for him to live in. (In fact we'd looked at the house next door, which had been for sale at the same time as this one, but we hadn't at all like it though the real-estate agent, a friend of the seller, had pushed hard for us to buy that house over this one). But his his father's house hadn't sold so he put his mother's house on the market as well, which we immediately came along and snapped up. So now his father was giving him the house next door to live in, though he felt like this house, now our house, was really his. We had the locks changed that same day.
Our bad feeling didn't get any better when some of the neighbors who'd been been born and raised in the town warned us that our neighbor had been the bane of the neighborhood when he was young, a real troublemaker.
Let's just say that he continued to live up to his reputation when he moved into his father's house and became our next-door neighbor.
I won't go into the details of this person's habitual uncivic-minded behavior, except to say that because of our name he always assumed we were Polish and the insults he shouted across the fence at us and our children invariably included the demeaning slang word for people of Polish descent. Once he threatened to move out and sell his house (which he couldn't have done anyway, the house belonging to his father) to a bunch of...well, I won't use the nasty word, but he meant people of African-American ethnicity. Little did he know how much we wished he would carry out his threat.
Though we sometimes called the police on our neighbor (to no avail), we really weren't interested in seeing him punished. We just wanted him to stop. Which he never did. I don't believe he was capable.
After 7 years we finally gave up and moved out of the house, neighborhood and small city we loved...to a different house, neighborhood and small city that we've come to love many times more than we ever did that first place.
I hope with all my heart that Edmund Avis's punishment for bullying his neighbors will make him change his behavior and that his neighbors will finally be able to live in peace.
But if Avis ever again troubles the family next door, he should again be arrested and prosecuted, and for for his next sentence he should be required to move our of his house to somewhere far from his neighbors. Really far.