When two emotionally disturbed teenagers at the the Judge Rotenberg Education Center in Boston were given extreme shock treatments after a prank call, seven staff members were fired. It now appears that that was too small of a purge. This week, it was revealed at officials at the Center ordered the destruction of the videotapes of the two boys being abused — despite direct demands that they preserve the tapes. The Center’s defense is virtually identical to that of the Bush Administration in destroying the CIA torture tapes: it was necessary to avoid the inadvertent release of the image to the public and the harm such release would produce. In doing so, the Center may have committed crimes by destroying evidence of its own potential guilt.
This bizarre story began when the Center received a prank call that ordered an excessive level of electric shock treatments for two emotionally disturbed teenagers — and proceeded to do so based on the telephone call. The call came in on August 26th ordering the “treatment” for the boys aged 16 and 19. The staff took the boys in the middle of the night and one was given an unbelievable 77 shocks and the other 29 shocks. The treatment required one of the boys to be treated for first-degree burns. For a prior posting on this story, click here
The Disabled Persons Protection Commission has found serious injuries resulted from the abuse and called for criminal investigation. The matter has been referred to prosecutors for possible charges — making the destruction of the tapes all the more serious.The videotapes were the key evidence — showing the abusive treatment. The Commission had demanded copies of the tapes and the school was reportedly informed that it had to preserve the tape for a possible criminal investigation. It is simply amazing that the school officials went ahead and destroyed the tapes. One question is whether they took such moronic action after speaking with an attorney — who could also be in jeopardy in this matter.
The school admits that it destroyed the evidence because it “did not want any possibility of the images getting into the media.” In the most self-serving and transparent rationalization, School spokesman Ernest Corrigan insisted that they destroyed the evidence out of concern for the boys not themselves. Really? So it was to the boys’ advantage that their lawyers not be able to show their abuse. It was to the boys’ advantage that any prosecution of a crime committed against them could be undermined for lack of evidence.
If the school was really concerned about the boys, it could have sought to put the tapes under seal or seek advance agreement from the police to prevent its disclosure absent a court order.
The school’s founder and director Matthew Israel insisted that that the investigation “seemed to be finished.” So, rather than tape two tapes in a locked area, Israel thought it was a good idea to destroy them? Did the school ask the investigators or the prosecutors? Do the boys have counsel? Were they asked about any continued interest or need for the tapes?
The destruction of the tapes should now be the subject of a criminal investigation and possible charges — in addition to those tied to the abusive treatment of the boys. At least the CIA admitted privately that it was afraid that the tapes could be used against them in court. It somehow seems much worse to have school officials destroying evidence of their own possible crimes in the name of the two boys and their best interests. After suffering injuries from excessive and unneeded shock therapy, the boys are now being used as a shield by the very school that harmed them.
For the full story, click here