Memorial Wall : victims of institutional abuse

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This Memorial Wall is our tributes to those who have died as a result of child abuse, domestic violence, rape, religious abuse, or other types of abuse. Some of these people we knew personally, others we only heard of. Abuse is not a theoretical concept, it happens to real people, and costs lives. It's important to honor those we lost to abuse by telling their stories, so that the secret that killed them does not remain secret, and so that other lives might be saved, as a result of increased awareness.
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March 31st:
Aaron Bacon
died on March 31st, 1994

Aaron was a 16yo boy from South California who asked his parents to transfer him to a public school because he felt his private school "wasn't providing enough socioeconomic diversity." He was a bright kid, wrote poetry, but soon after the school transfer he was caught smoking pot and was suspected of affiliating with a school gang (though he vehemently denied it). Parents panicked, took out a second mortgage, and sent Aaron to a North Star wilderness therapy program, costing $13,900 for a 63-day course, plus another $775 to have Aaron surprised at 1Am by being dragged out of his bed barefoot and forcibly "escorted" to location (something North Star strongly recommended).

Out of 20 days on the trail, Aaron had been forced to go without a sleeping bag for 14 days, without a blanket for 4 days (three of which were marked by below-freezing temperatures), and without food for 11 days, plus four days on which he had only meal, and one day on which his only food was a lizard and a scorpion. Aaron soiled himself uncontrollably, was unable to walk, see, or hear, and other kids in the group said that he looked "like he was from Auschwitz or Ethiopia," yet the camp counselors felt he was faking it till he died.

Here's one of Aaron's poems:

Dreaming with a heart full of wonder
And a mind full of knowledge
Our thirst for life and love
Does not set with the sun behind us.


Posted by Manya on October 17th, 2015
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April 1st:
Peter McCloskey
died on April 1st, 2006

37yo Peter McCloskey was sexually abused by an Irish Catholic priest in early 1980s when Peter was a 10yo altar boy. Nothing was done about it at the time, even though there were multiple complaints about this priest. Peter and his family spent years trying to reveal the truth about what happened him and to have it acknowledged. He committed suicide three days after one of the meeting with the church officials, which his brother described as "a horrendous experience." Peter left a note that said "I have done everything that I could to survive. There's nothing left to do."

After his death, the diocese of Limerick released a statement acknowledging the truth of Peter McCloskey's experience of clerical child sexual abuse, and that the information available at that time should have prevented the priest who molested him from taking up ministry in Limerick. "Peter was a man of extraordinary honesty, integrity and courage. His commitment to the truth demands that all involved work to fully examine and address the grave issues which have been raised as a result of Peter's tragic death. All involved acknowledge that this will be a challenging and at times uncomfortable process but we affirm our commitment to work together to that end," concluded the statement. You can read Peter's whole story, including his mom's memories of his childhood, by clicking on his name.


Posted by Manya on March 11th, 2017
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April 3rd:
Harry Lew
died on April 3rd, 2011

Lance Cpl. Harry Lew was hazed by his fellow Marines, and found dead on April 3. The world wouldn't have known how Lew died, had not one other soldier came forward to tell the truth. His parents were informed by the USMC that Harry was killed on the battlefield, 'supporting combat operations' "I feel very proud of my son," his father said. "But I also feel very, very sad. Nothing can compare to the loss of my only son." One of Lew's passions was tricking, which is a combination of break dancing, acrobatics and martial arts. He helped coach a youth group called "That Breaking Club." The members remember him as someone who brought them close together with his sunny personality and impressive mid-air flips.


Posted by Jane on June 16th, 2018
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April 5th:
Afroza Chowdhury
died on April 5th, 2015

60yo Afroza Chowdhury from California, USA, had a fight with her husband. He threatened to kill her, and she responded she'd rather kill herself than be killed by him. He called 911 and reported her for threatening suicide. The police officers who arrived on scene couldn't understand Mrs Chowdhury's accent and spoke with her adult son over the phone. In the end the husband was arrested for making threats (while on probation for a previous offense), and Mrs Chowdhury was taken to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation. A few hours later the husband was released. Mrs Chowdhury was also released and put on a taxi. When she discovered she was being taken back to her husband, she committed suicide by jumping out of the car (traveling at 60mph on a highway).

"It seems wrong for them to send her to the exact same environment which led her to make suicidal statements and that was just an unhealthy, unsafe environment for her," public defender said. "But if they don't think she's suicidal, she gets to make that decision for herself." However, both California law and the hospital's policy require that staff make reasonable attempts to notify next of kin before releasing a mental health patient. "I have a sister who lives back in Bangladesh," said her son, "and obviously they're asking me, ‘What kind of hospital releases a 60-year-old woman in the middle of the night?' If I knew she was at the hospital - 100 percent - me and my wife would have come and picked her up." His attorney added, "I think his biggest concern is not compensation, but a change in the system so this doesn't happen to someone else's mom, sister, wife."


Posted by Manya on March 11th, 2017
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April 18th:
Keith Clayton
died on April 18th, 2014

55yo Keith Clayton from Texas, USA, worked as a truck driver and enjoyed roller skating. He had four children and a grandson, but was staying with his elderly parents because he was suffering from schizophrenia. Mr Clayton's family became concerned for his wellbeing when he started talking of suicide. They felt unable to care for him, and sent him to an inpatient facility. Three days later Mr Clayton was restrained by two hospital employees, and died of spleen laceration caused by blunt force trauma. After much consideration the police ruled his death accidental; Mr Clayton's family was told he died during a scuffle with another patient. However, Adult Protective Services found it to be physical abuse; one of the hospital employees was fired; the other received a warning letter, explaining to them the proper use of restraints.


Posted by Manya on June 8th, 2017
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May 1st:
Wilfred Gardner
died on May 1st, 2011

85yo Wilfred Gardner was one of the Orchid View residents. Orchid View was a care home for the elderly in West Sussex, UK, that was operating from 2009 to 2011, charged £3000 per month, and provided "sub-optimal" care that was deemed "institutionalized abuse" and resulted in the death of five of its residents.

Mr Gardner was diabetic but sometimes he wasn't given his insulin, and sometimes there were no strips to check his blood sugar levels. He was also in pain but denied pain medication unless he asked for it. "He's got dementia, how would he know what to say?" commented his daughter.


Posted by Manya on March 5th, 2016
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May 5th:
Jean Halfpenny
died on May 5th, 2010

77yo Jean Halfpenny was one of the Orchid View residents. Orchid View was a care home for the elderly in West Sussex, UK, that was operating from 2009 to 2011, charged £3000 per month, and provided "sub-optimal" care that was deemed "institutionalized abuse" and resulted in the death of five of its residents.

Mrs Halfpenny stayed at Orchid View from November 2009 to May 2010, and on a few occasions were found naked in her bed, crying, cold, hungry, and thirsty. Her daughter wasn't allowed to visit in the morning or during meal times, and was reprimanded for bringing food for her mother. In April Mrs Halfpenny was administered three times her regular dose of the blood thinning drug Warfarin over the course of 17 days; she was hospitalized twice after that, and passed away on May 5th.


Posted by Manya on March 5th, 2016
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May 9th:
Rodney Hulin, Jr
died on May 9th, 1996

Rodney was about to turn 17yo when he "caused a small fire in a pile of empty cans against the outside wall of the residence", according to an incident report. He was a juvenile tried as an adult, and took a plea agreement of 8 years in prison with the possibility of parole in 2 years. In less than a year he was gang-raped. Rodney reported it and a medical examination corroborated the claim, but no charges were filed against the offenders. Two months later Rodney hanged himself. Medics restored his heartbeat, and from that point on he was transferred from one prison hospital to another, until he died on May 9th, 1996. His dad had applied for a medical parole on his son's behalf, and it was granted; Rodney was scheduled to move to a nursing home on May 11th.


Posted by Manya on February 5th, 2016
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May 24th:
Lillian Eggen
died on May 24th, 2013

Lillian Eggen was the victim of elder abuse which included substandard clinical care and being housed in in an environment that was infected with toxic mold. Since Mrs. Eggen was a Nurse she was shocked and upset to learn the facilities charge 'nurse' was an imposter who used inadequately trained caregivers.


Posted by Jane on August 20th, 2018
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June 2nd:
Omega Leach
died on June 2nd, 2007

In May, 17-year-old Omega Leach arrived at the Chad Youth Enhancement Center outside Nashville, a mental-health facility for troubled teenagers approved by the city's Department of Human Services. His stay was brief. Omega died after a physical confrontation with staff on June 3. He tried to choke one counselor, and another staffer pushed Leach facedown to the floor and pulled his arms behind his back, police said. His mother, Paulette Dolby, cried when asked about her son. She referred reporters to a lawyer, Edith Pearce, Pearce described Leach as an ordinary teenager who loved basketball and video games and doted on his younger sister. He carried a grade point average of 2.7 at Daniel Boone disciplinary school. "My career goal is to be a lawyer," he wrote recently, in words quoted in his funeral program. "I like helping people, so I plan to be an affordable lawyer, and in that case I will have to go to college."


Posted by Jane on June 16th, 2018
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