A jury in the Skagit Valley Courthouse yesterday found Carri and Larry Williams guilty of manslaughter in the first degree (of their adopted daughter Hana) and assault of a child in the first degree (of their adopted son Immanuel). In addition, Carri Williams was found guilty of homicide by abuse, while the jury was unable to agree on whether Larry was guilty of this charge.
Justice has been done. The jury and the community have sent out a signal that this kind of cruelty, mental and physical, will not be tolerated.
There is a lot of healing to be done. I hope Immanuel finds peace and love in a new adoptive family. I hope all the Williams children get counseling, and reject their parents’ ideas of bringing up children.
I hope Hana’s death and Immanuel’s suffering are not in vain. I hope this sparks outrage at people who can abuse children this way. I hope this sparks anger at child “training” practices, such as those recommended by Michael Pearl and his wife Debi Perl.
Rest in Peace, Hana. I hope you somehow get to know that a lot of people loved you and cried for you. You will not be forgotten.
More to be done
The battle may be won, the war isn’t. There is a lot more work to be done, lots more children to be saved from abuse.
In my last post, Sorrow, Tears & Questions: The trial of Hana Williams’ adoptive parents, I had a number of suggestions to avoid such tragedies, including ensuring that adopted children have frequent contact with the outside world, with schools and churches. In response, my friend Ramesh sent this heart-rending story of Daniel Pelka.
From a BBC report: Four-year old Daniel Pelka, of Coventry, UK, died of a head injury in March 2012, at the end of months of starvation and severe mental and physical suffering – at the hands of his own mother, Magdelena Luczak and her partner Mariusz Krezolek. This couple allegedly broke Daniel’s arm when he was three and a half and did not take him to hospital till a day later. They systematically starved him, and subjected him to “cold water punishment”, forced repeatedly to kneel for long periods of time, run continuously, perform squats, or swallow salt. From another BBC report we learn a sibling felt compelled to hide food for him while he was being starved by his parents.
In early August 2013, Luczak and Krezolek were sentenced to a minimum of 30 years each. The Coventry Safeguarding Children Board is reviewing Daniel’s death to review actions taken (and presumably actions not taken) by police and social services after staff at his school noticed bruising and black eyes — on a 4-year old!
Here’s a particularly disturbing excerpt from a BBC piece on the judge Justice Cox’s remarks before she sentenced the couple:
“…The judge said Daniel was confined for regular and prolonged periods of time in a small, bare box room where the inner door handle was removed and the metal panel arranged so that he could not even see out of the keyhole.
‘The small hand and finger marks on the inside of that door provided a poignant image of his desperate attempts to escape. The urine stains to the mattress on which he was made to sleep and the damp state of the carpet testify to his inability to go to the toilet when he needed. There is evidence of him soiling himself.’ …”
and another even more disturbing excerpt:
“I am satisfied, Mariusz Krezolek, that this head injury was inflicted by you and you applied considerable force….
“Daniel then lay alone in the box room, as his life slipped away, from that Thursday evening until just before 3am on Saturday morning, while you both continued your lives, hoping that he would regain consciousness.
“Your internet searches on that Friday morning reveal both the scale of the cruelty you had inflicted on him and your growing realisation that he was not responding.
“Still you did not take him to hospital, until you discovered in the early hours that he was not breathing and eventually called the emergency services.
So, on top of their constant cruelty, with no apparent reason, the couple had left Daniel alone, mortally injured, from Thursday till Saturday! Poor, poor child.
There are similarities and a lot of differences between Hana/Immanuel and Daniel. All of them were ill-treated, physically and mentally. But unlike the home-schooled, home-churched Hana or Immanuel, Daniel was a child who went to school. Daniel was taken to the hospital when his arm was broken. One would have thought someone at school or at the hospital would have noticed problems. But no – his mother and her partner concocted stories about him having an eating disorder, and asking his teachers never to feed him anything. They lied about Daniel’s injuries to specialists, but no one seems to have thought to ask for confirmation. And so Daniel slipped through the cracks in the system.
Clearly the suggestions I had in my previous post need to be refined and strengthened to get around obstructive behavior on part of (adoptive) parents or parent-surrogates. When cruelty is suspected, the community must act and act fast. Better a bruised ego than a battered child. Of course, the evidence must be strong to prevent false accusations.
There’s lots more one can say here, but I’ll stop with saying: you too, Daniel: Rest in Peace.
Hana & Immanuel: There are detailed accounts of the trial in Gina’s series of articles in SVH and her tweets from Gina_SVH. Maureen McCauley Evans has extremely detailed reports and discussions on the different days of the trial and related issues. Hermana Linda’s blog Why Not Train a Child has details of the trial plus pointers to others’ coverage of the trial. Kiro-TV has had continuing coverage of the case and the trial. In addition, there is a very active Facebook page: Remembrance of Hanna Williams . I was able to attend the trial on only day, and my wife was able to go only for a few days but both of us avidly consumed the reports from Gina, Maureen, Hermana and others; we are so grateful to them, as well as to members from the Ethiopian Community Mutual Association, who were in constant attendance at the trial.
Daniel Pelka: Searching on his name returns a number of articles from the BBC. Thanks to Ramesh for bringing Daniel to our attention.