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DC Entertainment has reversed its decision not to allow a statue of a murdered 5-year-old to bear the insignia of his favorite superhero, Superman.
That victim, Jeffrey Baldwin, was a Toronto boy who was severely starved, abused and neglected by his grandparent guardians, ultimately dying from malnutrition on Nov. 30, 2002. The grandparents, Norman Kidman and Elva Bottineau, were convicted of second-degree murder in 2006.
A coroner’s inquest into the case held last year so moved Todd Boyce — a 45-year-old father from Ottawa whose own 7-year-old son shares a birthday with Jeffrey — that he launched a campaign on Indiegogo to raise CA$25,000 to erect a bronze statue of the murdered boy at a Toronto park. The campaign ultimately collected $36,000.
Key to the sculpture was the Superman costume. According to testimony given by Jeffrey’s father — from whom he was taken by order of Toronto’s Catholic Children’s Aid Society — the boy idolized the Man of Steel, dressing up as him one year for Halloween. A heartbreaking photo of a smiling Jeffrey in the costume, taken prior to being ordered to his grandparents’ care, was released during the inquest.
Boyce contacted DC last week requesting permission to use the Superman logo on the sculpture, which was nearing completion.
Sources close to DC tell The Hollywood Reporter that the request was debated internally for days, but that the company ultimately made the difficult decision not to allow use of the trademark because 12 years had passed since the death and Boyce had never communicated directly with Jeffrey’s surviving family members.
DC’s senior vp business and legal affairs, Amy Genkins, then sent an email to Boyce stating that “for a variety of legal reasons, we are not able to accede to the request, nor many other incredibly worthy projects that come to our attention.”
The decision came as a huge blow to Boyce, who made arrangements to have sculptor Ruth Abernethy change the iconic “S” on the statue’s chest to a “J.” But Boyce also shared his story with the Toronto press, and it swiftly gathered steam online, with DC drawing heat from critics who argued the media company was callously acting in its own self-interests.
Executives at the company then reconvened to reconsider their decision, and on Thursday announced a change of heart.
A statement from a company spokesperson read, “We take each request seriously and our heartfelt thoughts go out to the victims, the family and those affected. DC Entertainment uses a flexible set of criteria when we receive worthy requests such as this, and at times have reconsidered our initial stance.”
“After verifying the support of appropriate family members,” the statement continues, “DC Entertainment will be allowing the Jeffrey Baldwin Memorial Statue to feature the Superman ‘S’ shield.”
Boyce took to Twitter to cheer on the victory. “Great news!” he wrote. “DC honors both Jeffrey’s family and its fans! After further review — Jeffrey will don the S shield!”
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