Sunday, September 1, 2013

Waiting for a Verdict

All the testimony has been heard in the Hana Williams trial, and the jury has been instructed to report back on Wednesday. I didn't know they'd do that, but I don't know much about trials. But I thought they stayed and came up with a verdict right away so they didn't have time to talk to other people or read the papers and such.

Reading the daily reports of the court happenings has been kind of interesting. In a sad sort of way. Here are just some of my rambling thoughts.

It was stated that the trial is not about whether or not the punishments were excessive, because they were (courts words, not mine), but whether or not they were criminal.

Several times during one session Immanuel's wetting issues were discussed and it was said that the dad and three oldest sons were constantly checking the boy's underwear to see if it was wet. That seems kind of crazy. If he was wet, he was taken outside and hosed off clothes and all, even in cold weather.

Carri (mom) knows ASL and has been an interpreter. She taught her kid sign language so they could communicate with Immanuel. But then for punishment she forbid any of them to sign with him in order to isolate him. They would stomp on the floor for his attention. I fail to see how this helps with any of his behavior issues. It seems a cruel way to isolate him.

He testified that rules were never explained to him and he didn't understand their expectations, He never felt comfortable or liked it there.

He was beaten on the bottom of his feet for punishment many times.

He was bullied on the stand in order to discredit him. There were three interpreters with him.

Hana often was made to sleep in a barn 80 feet from the house, in the shower room on the cement floor or in a closet that was four feet high and two feet wide. It didn't say how long it was. Again, how does isolating her in a barn help anything?

A physician (board certified in abuse in kids) said that the death by hypothermia was exacerbated by starvation. He referred to their treatment as stunning neglect through patterns of food deprivation, physical abuse, isolation and degrading treatment. Hana was not just thin, her body was wasting. Ugh. I hate that! Food deprivation is not a discipline tool. It hinders attachment. 

A big part of the trial was trying to prove Hana's age. This is important because the mom is on trial for homicide by abuse and manslaughter for Hana (and first degree child abuse of  I. Not sure if the dad is accused of the same. The reports all say Carri.) The homicide by abuse charge can only stand if Hana was under the age or 16 at the time of her death. Not sure why. Even if she was over 16, this was not a normal, large, healthy 16-year-old who could take care of herself. There was a lot of testimony about bone development and that different bones on her body suggested ages from 13 to 17.

A lot of the testimony seemed like they were trying to pin everything on Carri and make out that Larry didn't realize what was going on. They tried to get the oldest boy (now in the army stationed in Korea) to testify that his parents fought about the punishments. The dad worked from afternoon until midnight, but he still would have seen Hana in the morning and have seen how thin she was. He would have known where she was sleeping and whether or not she ate what they ate at breakfast and lunch.

The dad said he felt responsible and ashamed. When asked why he said, "There were lots of things I could have done to stop it and I didn't." This was followed by a lot of "I don't remember" and "It was Carri's idea.

Everyone seems to agree that the first year was good for Hana. She was described as a quiet girl who liked to read. Immanuel was aggressive from the start biting, kicking and hitting.

They say then Hana's behavior went downhill. That lead to the years of frozen food, cold showers, sleeping in the barn, shower room and closet.

Carri insists that Immanuel came with all the scars but they weren't  ever recorded. IF that's true, big mistake. Both of my twins have marks on their tush and waistline that look like they could be bruises, and I had the pediatrician write them all down in case anyone ever sees them and thinks they are bruises.

The mom also said, "I believe she unintentionally killed herself. I believe she did this to herself." There was also talk that Hana may have been bulimic or anorexic. Crazy.

This whole thing has been crazy. The excessive punishments that went on for years. Carri making it sound like Hana did it to herself.  Larry acting like he didn't know this was all going on.

Some of the punishments are so cruel. I have no problem with a kid who pees himself/herself being showered. But outside in 40F weather? I guess they thought the kids would not pee to avoid that, but it didn't work.

The wet sandwich thing baffles me. What is the point of sogging down the sandwich with water? To make it so disgusting they won't enjoy it? 

One lady that Carri was friends with knew how much Carri disliked the kids and suggested she take them back to her adoption agency to be placed in another family. Why didn't that friend follow up with Carri? Why didn't she share with someone what was going on?

Carri's dad is a police officer who said he didn't notice anything, or he would have had to report it. How could he not have noticed anything? Did he not visit or did he just close his eyes to it? Didn't he notice the kids weren't at the table? Were out in the cold on holidays?

Most of us adoptive parents have used these things in their very mild form--in my house, if you wet, you shower and you take your stuff into the shower with you. You rinse out the pee and then I'll wash it in the machine. But it's a warm shower inside the house and in privacy. That is with the intent that you learn to take responsibility for your mistakes, not to degrade them. 

Mine have been given sandwiches. I eat sandwiches pretty much every day for lunch. On occasion when a child just will not cooperate, he or she has been given a sandwich and vegetables and sent to bed early. In the house. In a bedroom. If a child wets the bed early on, I don't put new bedding on until morning. It doesn't hurt him/her to sleep on the floor with a blanket for the rest of the night after cleaning himself up. They are sent to use the restroom before bed, not supposed to drink after supper and they are taken the the restroom again at 11 p.m. So there really shouldn't be any problems.

Maybe this family started out trying these things and they just escalated. But why didn't they go to a counselor? Why didn't they send the two to public school so everyone could have a break from each other, why hadn't they taken the children to the doctor in over two years? Well, actually, I guess if your child doesn't play sports, you don't have to get the annual physical. And if they don't attend public school, you don't have to get a physical. But if bed wetting was such a problem and if they had a stomach condition when they came (and the family tried to blame this for her weight loss) why not go to the Dr? Because they wanted control? Because the neglect would have been reported?

Did this mom hate these kids so much that she couldn't stand the idea of them getting any privileges or being treated like children, even family members?

I'm glad I don't have to decide the charges. I do not know this mom's heart. I don't know if she thought these things would help and they just got out of control. I don't know how she could have not thought they were cruel. What if a birth child did the same thing?  What is the mom feeling now? It seems from the court reports that both parents are trying to avoid blame. Hana killed herself. Larry didn't know what went on.

Anyone have some answers?

And while this goes on, the "Baby Veronica" case continues. Another hard one. But if it had been done right in the first place, the baby would never have been put up for adoption. She was with the adoptive family for two year and has now been with her own birth dad for two years. 

I think people need to look at what is in the child's best interest. She is happy with her own birth dad. How can anyone think of yanking a child away from a birth parent who loves her and cares for her? 

I know a lot of adoptive parents are rooting for the adoptive parents, but this child is attached to her birth father and taking her away now would cause much more harm to her than what the adoptive parents would face if the child isn't returned to them. 

And how would they explain to this child later that they fought to take her from her own birth father who loves her and is capable of giving her a home? 
Lots of tough decisions.


One Crowded House said...

I hadn't heard of the Baby Veronica case.

Hana's case is just so messed up- even if she was a 20 year old- treating any living creature (human or otherwise) how they treated her is deplorable and deserves a life sentence. What may be even sadder is that their biological children have those sorts of punishments ingrained in them now- and I pray they don't continue that type of abuse in their own families some day.

Kathy C. said...

I hope the foster parents are getting the bio kids the counseling they need.