Prior Bad Acts

goodlife guide

By Phyllis Coletta

PRIOR BAD ACTS is the story of attorney Maria Testa, mother of three small boys, caught in the vortex of a nasty sexual harassment case against an Atlantic City casino vice president. The title refers to a rule of evidence that precludes the introduction of any facts regarding past behavior in order to prove an intent or event in the present. In a broader context, the title reflects the theme of redemption sought by the main character when she simply cannot do what is required of her. Bullied by the senior male partners onto the defense team on the case, Maria is assigned the repugnant task of eviscerating Pat Harding, the black female plaintiff, making her foray into the legal waters so awful that she will flail until she drowns. While facing this moral crisis, Maria’s mother is dying of a rare brain disease and her marriage is circling the drain. Both Pat and Maria face a conflict painfully well known to too many women: how far do you go to keep your job? The story is an intimate peek into the way the system encourages deceit, rewards those with money and victimizes people who put their faith in “justice.” In the parallel lives of these unlikely hero-women the reader finds they share a destiny, and it unfolds in a courtroom drama with the worst possible result. While despair appears to infuse the story’s landscape there is always pulsing that endless beat of female hope of making amends, making things better, and protecting children. Nothing can protect Pat Harding, though, from the screeching wheels of a car out of control and eventually, Maria decides that she will find her own justice, and her own way of making sure that Pat’s girls are safe. Her life crisis is resolved when she puts her guilt to rest.

You can purchase the book online from Amazon at

eBook formatting by Shelley Glasow Schadowsky.

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