Undoubtedly, Foretich will hate this movie. But he declined to comment when reached at a dental conference in Orlando, Fla. Less reticent was one of his attorneys, Elaine J. Mittleman. Saying she was a former Ford Motor Co. employee, Mittleman likened ABC's airing of the movie to "building a car that explodes."
In addition, a Hampton, Va.-based Foretich support group calling itself Friends of Justice has distributed to the media its own inch-thick summary of the case plus a list of 35 instances of "facts" being "distorted, misrepresented, and even omitted" by the ABC movie.
An ABC spokesman's unresponsive response to Friends of Justice this week was that the movie is about "a mother who did what she thought was necessary, and went to jail for it." As if the issue of fairness were that narrow.
Otto said that in making her film she was doing what she thought was necessary, too, and is going to the mat for it. She refused to back down from her pre-production vow that nothing in the movie would be "contestable."
"I documented every word, and it was approved by ABC legal and standards and practices," she said. "I feel like I bent over backwards to re-create how Dr. Foretich and his family portray themselves. I cast them as attractive, well-bred people who were outraged at what Dr. Morgan was doing."
Outraged, yes. But Eric Foretich is about as attractive here as a shark.
Otto said that although she didn't obtain Morgan's movie rights and that Morgan "didn't participate in any way (in the making of the movie)," she and Hilary's mother did spend a couple of days together before Morgan joined her daughter in New Zealand, where the child had been discovered living with her grandparents.
Out of fairness, why didn't Otto also speak to Foretich? At the very least, she could have learned he doesn't always look deranged.
Otto: "I know Dr. Foretich's position." Plus, Otto's consultant was Bob Trebilcock, who she said spoke with Foretich "at length" in researching a book on the case he has written with Morgan.
Although Otto insists whether she sides with Morgan or Foretich isn't the issue, and that the point she wishes to make instead is that "the system let Hilary down," her movie speaks shrilly for itself. And to understand her allegiance to Morgan as the adult protector of an alleged child victim--"My daddy says he'll poke me," Hilary tells her horrified mother in the movie--it's important to know that Otto was herself sexually abused as a child.
"I did have a one-time incident with my best friend's father, and he did violate me," she said. But her parents didn't believe her when she told them, Otto said, teaching her that in such instances "the chances of a child being believed are slim."
Thus we arrive at what Otto calls her "larger advocacy" for this movie, that "what the child says has to be paid attention to, that the child has to be protected."
But where, in "The Elizabeth Morgan Story," is protection for a father who, his supporters claim, was victimized by a mother who may have relentlessly planted sex-abuse stories in Hilary's head and who herself at one time was accused of being abusive to her daughter?
And where, buried beneath layer upon layer of charges and legal testimony, is the truth?