In October 1979, two men came into Richard and Marilyn Douglass’ home in Oklahoma City, Okla., shot the Southern Baptist pastor, his wife and their two children after repeatedly raping their 12-year-old daughter. Richard and Marilyn Douglass died, but their two children, Brooks, 16, and daughter, Leslie, survived the attack.
More than three decades later, BrooksDouglass, now 47, has co-written, produced and acted in “Heaven’s Rain,” a film about his family, the crime, its aftermath and ultimately, forgiveness.
“To me the story was always more about my family,” said Brooks Douglass, who will attend a screening of “Heaven’s Rain” on April 12 at Napa Valley College at the invitation of Napa County District Attorney Gary Lieberstein.
The District Attorney Office’s Victim Witness Program and Napa Valley College’s Criminal Justice Training Center co-sponsor the event as part of 2011 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week April 10-16. Also scheduled to appear at the screening at Napa Valley College on April 12 are actors Mike Vogel of Miami Medical and Taryn Manning of Hawaii Five-O.
The movie, about
1 hour, 40 minutes in length, shows the Douglass family in Oklahoma and Brazil, where Richard and Marilyn Douglass were missionaries. The crime scenes total about
8 minutes, Brooks Douglass estimated.
Douglass, who plays the role of his father in the movie, said “Heaven’s Rain” is mostly about love.
“We had a home that was filled with love,” he said Saturday.
Portraying his father was a way to pay tribute him, Douglass said. Richard Douglass, according to a news release, preached that God’s grace “falls on us like a gentle rain from heaven.”
After struggling for years with depression and alcohol abuse, Brooks Douglass, while still in his 20s, was able to pull himself together, finish law school, and make a successful bid for the Oklahoma state Senate, where he was the state’s youngest-ever senator.
During his three terms in office, Douglass, who credits his parents for his success, authored a series of victims’ rights bills, including one that allows victims and their relatives to witness executions. That legislation allowed Brooks Douglass and his sister, Leslie, to watch the execution of Steven Hatch, one of the two men convicted of the attack on their family.
In 1995, Brooks Douglass was a state senator when he met Glen Ake, the other man who shot his parents to death, during a tour of the state penitentiary. Ake’s death sentence had been reduced to life in prison after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a psychiatrist should have been provided to the defense to evaluate Ake’s sanity. During that 1995 visit, which is re-enacted in “Heaven’s Rain,” Ake asked for and received forgiveness from Douglass.
Brooks, an actor and producer in Southern California — where he lives with his wife, Julea, and their two children — is pursuing a lifelong dream of a career in the creative arts.
He is busy this year presenting his $1.5 million movie, which premiered last fall in Hollywood. Shot in Brazil and in Oklahoma, “Heaven’s Rain” has been shown in theaters, campuses, churches and other venues nationwide. Brooks has appeared on NBC’s “Dateline,” ABC’s “The View” and other shows. A day after the Napa screening, “Heaven’s Rain” is scheduled to be shown at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley.
Lieberstein, who invited Brooks to speak last year at the National District Attorneys Association in Napa, said he met Brooks through a mutual friend a few years ago. Lieberstein encouraged Brooks to pursue the project, Brooks said.
Lieberstein, who admires Brooks’ contribution in helping victims’ rights, said he hopes to fill every seat at Napa Valley College’s Performing Arts Center on April 12.
“People process grief in many ways,” Lieberstein said. “You can’t say there is a right or wrong way. But I think for someone to have gone through the process that Brooks has and to ultimately forgive one of the people responsible for his parents’ death is extraordinary.”