Detroit, MI— “It was as if our lives were pristine, and then this tornado tore through and devastated everything…
“My son was emotionally raped by the state, and my daughter was clinically and emotionally raped by the state. I felt so helpless…You’re supposed to protect your children, and these malevolent no-gooders kept me from them.”
From Parents cleared in sex case file suit–Our autistic kids suffered, they say (Detroit Free Press, 9/12/08):
Thal Wendrow was at her mother’s home when the police came to get her. Four West Bloomfield patrol cars pulled up to the curb. Her husband, Julian, at their home a few blocks away, also was being arrested that day last December.
The couple, who had no criminal history, suddenly faced decades in prison. He was charged with repeatedly raping their 15-year-old, severely autistic daughter, and she was charged with child abuse for failure to stop it.
Thus began a four-month ordeal, a prosecution based solely on statements their mute child reportedly made while using a widely discredited method called “facilitated communication,” in which messages are typed on a keyboard with the help of an aide called a facilitator.
Thursday, the Wendrows, who saw all charges against them dropped in March, filed a lawsuit in Oakland County Circuit Court, alleging 38 counts of wrongful imprisonment, invasion of privacy, violation of their due-process rights, malicious prosecution and other misdeeds. Lawsuits on behalf of their daughter and her 13-year-old brother, who was repeatedly interrogated by police, are expected to be filed today…
“It was as if our lives were pristine, and then this tornado tore through and devastated everything,” Thal Wendrow told the Free Press on Thursday at the Bloomfield Hills office of her attorney, Deborah Gordon.
Julian Wendrow, who spent 80 days in jail without bond before prosecutors dropped the case, is furious.
“My son was emotionally raped by the state, and my daughter was clinically and emotionally raped by the state. I felt so helpless,” he said. “You’re supposed to protect your children, and these malevolent no-gooders kept me from them.”
Gordon called the case “horrific.”
“It doesn’t get much worse. They literally broke up a family,” Gordon said. “These people are out of control. We’re hoping this lawsuit stops this insanity.”
Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca (pictured) and his chief assistant, Deborah Carley, named in the suit, did not comment Thursday. Assistant Prosecutor Andrea Dean, who handled the case, also is named in the suit, along with the West Bloomfield Police Department and Joseph Brousseau, the detective who interrogated the couple’s son…
The Wendrows were living a seemingly simple life in December 2007. Julian Wendrow owned his own painting company. Thal Wendrow worked as a research clerk for Oakland County Circuit Court. They were active at their synagogue and involved in their children’s schooling.
Both children had been diagnosed with autism. But their daughter was, by far, the more impaired, with a low IQ and an inability to speak. Their son, two years younger, was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a milder form of autism.
Although facilitated communication had been widely discredited by major universities and researchers, the Wendrows were hopeful it would help their daughter and insisted that Walled Lake schools train a paraprofessional to become a facilitator.
In November, the girl reportedly typed a statement accusing her father of raping her since she was 6, and claiming that her mother knew of the assaults but did not stop them.
A physical exam showed the girl’s hymen was intact. But prosecutors pushed forward with the case.
Within days, the girl was placed in a foster care home in Detroit, and the boy in a Pontiac facility for delinquent minors, even though he had no history of trouble.
Thal Wendrow was released on a tether after five days in the Oakland County jail, but Julian remained for weeks.
When the couple’s daughter was unable to answer questions on a keyboard in March during a courtroom demonstration to determine whether the alleged facilitated statement would be admissible in trial, prosecutors decided to drop the charges.
The girl, now back in school, shows signs of anxiety much of the time, her mother said. And the boy is struggling with his studies and prone to tears.
“This should never have happened,” Gordon said. “The prosecutors…just couldn’t let it go and own up that they’d made a terrible mistake.”
Read the full article here.
Thanks to Joseph, a Michigan reader, for the story.