Abuse


The extremely lengthy report, “Investigation of Restraint Device Use in Iowa’s County Jails,” contains a lot of information I will never be able to succintly summarize for you. You can find the full report here if you’re interested. It goes into detail about each of the five county jails criticized in the report  — Appanoose, Jefferson, Polk, Wapello and Woodbury.

The article I and Fred Love wrote about the report can be found here.

The most interesting part of the report, for those of us in Linn County, is the fact that Ombudsman William Angrick uses federal court cases filed against Linn County Jail deputies to make his point about “unreasonable” use of restraints, as well as acceptable use. The case I quoted in our article was pretty controversial, but I was mistaken in saying it was the latest case of damages being awarded to a person who was wrongfully treated on “THE BOARD.”

I cannot find anywhere in our archives about the case  Jeffrey C. Rogers, 18, of Minneapolis, pressed against several Linn County deputies in 2000. He was apparently kept on the board for 8 hours and defecated on himself because he was not allowed to use the restroom. It should be noted the same sergeant, Sgt. Lynn Johnson, was involved in both the Ogden and Rogers cases. He is still employed at the Linn County Sheriff’s Office, although I don’t believe he works in the jail anymore.

Other cases involving the use of the board have been filed since 2000, but have been dismissed.

So what do you all think about using the board?  I got one e-mail today saying it should be banned all together. Here is an excerpt:

(Former Linn County Sheriff Don) Zeller got a patent for the Board around 1992 and tried to sell it to law enforcement agencies across the nation. Initially, several were quickly purchased, mostly in Iowa. Notably, he was turned down by several key law enforcement agencies, including the Iowa DOC. A lot of the agencies that did purchase it, no longer use it and keep it next to their restraint chair. The ones that do still use it face problems like Linn County and have tried to tailor their rules for its use it over the years in an attempt to protect them from legal action. Again notably, Don Zeller’s Board business went bust and he never made a profit. Very few Boards are actually used today and the ones that are still being used are mainly, if not all, in Iowa.

        As the Ombudsman’s report mentions, the laws governing the use of all restraint devices are murky. They’re murky for a reason: if laws governing their use existed, the law enforcement agencies would have to be held accountable in a court of law concerning their use. Without laws, the rules are then made in lengthy, murky legal decisions or informally in settlements where the rules can be carefully tailored to only avoid legal action. Without commenting on the legality of the restraint chair, the “Board” was obviously a bad idea from the start and is illegal. Everyone who has knowledge about it knows its days are numbered, one way or another, without a doubt. The devastating part about it is that the Ombudsman’s report really only focused on the restraint chair and not the Board or Linn County. The Board has been in use for almost 20 years now and has still not been removed completely from usage. The report does state that the Board could potentially kill someone, thereby placing the guards in a position where they’ve killed someone and, of course, a life has been lost. Why no one has died on the Board is a mystery, though I’ve heard unconfirmed rumors that this did occur in Linn County in the 1990s. Hopefully, this never happens, but it may if this Board is not removed from usage.

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Most of what the reader said is true, except the fact that the board is not illegal. It’s use is, however, discouraged. Moreover, as Angrick says in his report, someone DID die while strapped to a version of the board. But people have also died in the chair:

 

 

 

 

 

On May 7, 1998, Michael Oliver Lewis died after being placed on a restraint board for three hours at El Paso County Jail in Colorado.

36 The county coroner concluded Mr. Lewis died from a combination of heart disease, medication, and the restraint board, though he could not say which had a dominant role in the death.37 Mr. Lewis’ mother later sued the county jail, who settled in 2001 for $116,000.38 The county also settled a lawsuit the previous year brought by the ACLU concerning the county’s use of the restraint board for $50,000.39 The county put a moratorium on the restraint board use, and in its place began using a restraint chair.40

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I never like using the names of teenagers accused of sexually abusing young children because they are children themselves. Most likely, they were also abused. But the compassion and protectiveness one feels for such teens shouldn’t outweigh the safety of those around them — particularly before they are tried and sentenced, if they are found guilty.

This issue comes up every time I see teens charged with sexual abuse, and today it came up again. The story is pasted below because the online link has messed up in The Gazette’s database, but you can still see the firestorm of comments it generated:

The Gazette
CEDAR RAPIDS — Two Cedar Rapids teens have been charged in separate instances of second-degree sexual abuse, accused of committing sexual acts on children under the age of 12.
Hannah L. Hall, 15, of 1443 E. Bertram Rd. SE, is accused of performing a sex act on a 5 year-old child between Oct. 23, 2007, and July 24, according to court documents. She is also charged with indecent exposure, accused of exposing her genitals to the child.
Patrick W. Conlon III, 14, of 820 15th St. SE, is accused of performing a sex act on a 5year-old boy between Jan. 1, 2008 and Aug. 28, according to court documents.
Hall is set to go to trial on her charges Feb. 20 in Juvenile Court. Conlon’s Juvenile Court trial is set for March 19.

It is my job as public safety reporter to make sure my community has the information it needs to make informed decisions. We only publicize serious (mostly felony) charges against juveniles. It’s a common misconception that juvenile court records are confidential — once a petition has been filed against a juvenile in Iowa, the charges contained on it become public record unless it is sealed by a judge. Unlike “adult” court, very few petitions are dismissed from juvenile court after they are made public record because most of the work is done BEFORE charges are ever filed. That mechanism is there to protect children, and I keep that in mind every time I get access to these records.

I’m also aware that it is human nature to automatically demonize anyone who sexually abuses a child. In some instances the people who do it truly deserve to be scorned, but reserving judgment has never done me wrong. It affects me greatly to think some of these teens I write about may be hurting inside because of abuse that happened to them and are merely acting out those scenes on others. I was a victim of emotional abuse as a child, and from my own experience I can tell you patterns of unacceptable behavior carry through generations of family members. I ache for kids in much worse situations than mine.

Perhaps identifying these patterns of abuse will eventually lead to a better society through the treatment of these teens who are caught in the middle.

I will always feel sick to my stomach when I run across search warrants served in sexual abuse cases. In all honesty, objectivity becomes moot I read about a little girl’s babysitter making her perform sexual acts before she can watch a children’s movie. And these warrants are sometimes a bit graphic. I remember one I read last year about a boy whose babysitter anally raped him nearly every day one summer and told him “That’s what friends do.”

Sick.

Such was the case in the arrest of Lester Cory, 47, of 226 Simpson St. SW. Cory allegedly babysat a 7-year-old girl who lived down the street several days and nights this summer. The abuse, which the girl said happened three times, was reported July 30.

Not only do these cases inflame public outrage against all sex offenders, they really highlight the near worthlessness of our current laws. The #1 fact of sexual abuse is that it almost always is done by someone close to the child — not some unknown, creepy guy who lives within 2,000 of a school or park. Cory wasn’t on any sex offender list, either, and he didn’t have a court record. Outside of her father making a more informed choice of temporary caregiver, was there any way this little girl could have been protected?

Perhaps our moral outrage should be directed in a different direction. But where do we turn when we cannot blame our government, our police — anyone — for not protecting us from this? Can we blame anyone?

Jennifer Hemmingsen’s story in Sunday’s Gazette about young women not reporting sexual assaults resounded with me, and likely many more women who read it. I, for one, don’t blame them.

It’s not something I relish talking about, but I never made a police report about my experience with a former high school classmate. I absolutely won’t make it an issue, because he is the father of another woman’s beautiful baby and is linked to me in countless other ways. I have to live with my decision to give in to his intimidation for the rest of my life. He doesn’t. He got what he wanted and he’s out of my life.

At first I wasn’t going to say anything. But about a week afterward, I fell apart and told my boyfriend at the time about what happened. He immediately cussed me out and blamed me for letting him into my house to watch a movie. He refused to speak to me, and his friends called me when they were drunk and harrassed me. Why didn’t I call him so he could rescue me? Why didn’t I fight back? Why didn’t I kick the guy out? Honestly….I can’t tell you. I was scared. I was weak. I didn’t expect it. At all.

His conclusion was that I wanted it, and that I am no better than a *place your own epithet here*. Now I can’t even use the dirty four-letter word that describes what happened to me without choking up. So…there that is.

You might be afraid. You might be angry. You might hate yourself so much that your life turns into a downward spiral. Just remember — you are not alone.

On Thursday, the search warrant for the home of James Waldron at 1920 Washington Ave. SE was finally filed in court. Waldron, 63, is being charged with second-degree sexual abuse, accused of forcing sex acts on a 5-year-old girl since 2007. The girl was attending an in-home daycare run by Waldron’s wife.

Before I go into what was included in the warrant, I should tell you that I feel it is important for us to share some of the details given in search warrants in cases like this for a few reasons, although they are of such a sordid nature that we would not include them in a story printed in the newspaper. Most importantly, it puts the accusations in context. It also can be useful for parents to know, perhaps helping them find the right questions to ask their children about their caregivers and making sure the environment is healthy.

The girl’s parents went to the police station on April 28 to speak with officers about the alleged abuse, according to the search warrant. The girl told them the day before that Waldron was touching her in a sexual way, and the girl’s older sibling said she saw her little sister under a blanket with James before in a living room chair. The girl described an incident of abuse that happened in that chair while a children’s movie was playing.

Police seized a red swiveling chair from the Waldrons’ living room, 13 children’s video tapes, two blankets and two pairs of white men’s underwear from the house, according to the return to the warrant.

Waldron is set to be arraigned on Tuesday, May 27.