Former addict returns to court -- this time with life back on track

Free of drugs with help of TV's `Judge Hatchett'

January 21, 2002|By Laurie Willis | Laurie Willis,SUN STAFF

Cheryl Green's 11-year heroin and cocaine addiction got so bad she lost custody of her three daughters. She was arrested for panhandling and robbery and wasn't allowed in her mother's West Baltimore house. She thought she'd never break free from drugs.

But Audrey Moody wouldn't accept that her middle daughter was lost to drugs. So she took her to court via the nationally syndicated television show Judge Hatchett, on which they appeared Dec. 5, 2000.

Since then, Green has gone through detoxification and she has completed six months at a residential treatment facility in Frederick. She lives in a home for recovering female addicts in Frederick, works for a construction company, and takes General Educational Development classes. Today she is scheduled to be featured again on Judge Glenda Hatchett's show - which unlike other popular TV court programs offers "intervention" to litigants - to show that she has cleaned up, and to make a public appeal for her children to be returned.

"That case really spoke to my heart because I had been a judge for 8 1/2 years in Atlanta before coming to court TV," Hatchett said in a telephone interview from New York. "I have seen too many women like Cheryl Green, but I operate on the side of hope, no matter how bad it is, no matter how bad it may appear."

Today's show, which is scheduled to air at 12:30 p.m. on WMAR-TV Channel 2, an ABC affiliate, features Green tearfully thanking Hatchett for her help. In a poem titled "They Helped Me," Green writes:

"When God entered my life, it was my last suffering night. For a moment I was lost, but he assured me it was for a good cause. He worked with my mother, and together they let others help me. It is his path I now know, and it started with the Judge Hatchett show."

Before she met Hatchett, Green was like many of the city's estimated 55,000 drug addicts, stealing and begging to get money for drugs.

"I got arrested twice for panhandling, but that didn't stop me," Green said. She also took her daughters, Sheree Johnson, now 14, and Montia Dollar, now 11, with her to beg for money.

"I would approach people and tell them that I was trying to get my girls to a homeless shelter for battered women and children ... but I wanted the money to buy cocaine and heroin," Green said.

Green's oldest daughter, Ebony Johnson, now 18, refused to panhandle with her. Ebony turned Green in to protective services, which eventually took the girls.

On today's show, Ebony and her mother - who usually see each other on weekends - share a tearful meeting.

"My mother changing is a big inspiration in my life because when my mother was down, I was down," Ebony tells Hatchett through tears. "When she was going through, I was going through. When she was hurt, I was hurt. So now I don't have no reason to be down no more because my mother got herself together, and I thank God."

Green, 36, acknowledges that she put her daughters and mother through an emotional whirlwind. Moody said Green's daughters had to repeat grades in school because they often couldn't get up in the morning for classes after their mother kept them out late.

At one time, three of Moody's four children were addicted to drugs.

"It hurt me. I only had one I could talk to, and that was my oldest one. It took a lot from me. I got to the point that I was ready to cut myself aloose [from them], and I wouldn't let them come in my house because I was afraid they would steal something or come in and use [drugs]."

Philip Tuohey, executive director of Gale Houses Inc., said that Green completed six months at a halfway house.

Green also attends Narcotics Anonymous classes.

She comes to Baltimore on weekends to spend time with her family. Ebony lives with Green's sister, Cynthia Green. Her mother has temporary custody of Sheree, and Montia lives with her paternal great-grandmother.

But she vows to get her children back, and Moody plans to help her.

"I'm in her corner for that because I see a difference in her. ... " Moody said. "She's fit to take care of them now. She hadn't bought these kids anything for Christmas in a long time, and this Christmas past she really went above and beyond, and I was really happy. I know she's ready, and I don't have no doubt that she won't go back [to drugs.]"

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