Kathy Adams reports that the defense attorney for a former student accused of a Columbine-style plot against a high school will plead that the young man was insane due to Bipolar Disorder and PTSD due to a history of child abuse and bullying:
Philip C. Bay, the former student accused of a plot against Landstown High School, began “the countdown to terror” on April 16, 2007, the day of the Virginia Tech massacre, Commonwealth’s Attorney Harvey Bryant told jurors as Bay’s trial got underway Monday afternoon.
Bryant called Bay “the mastermind, the bomb-maker and the recruiter for this suicide mission,” and said Landstown notebooks, calendars and photos will help prove Bay set out to kill at least 30 people.
He read journal entries he said were Bay’s, including this: “I will be armed to the teeth with guns, knives and everything else. I will kill, kill, kill. You have my word.”
An attorney helping defend Bay, Eric Korslund, said the defense will argue he was insane at the time of the crimes. He suffered from untreated bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder from being bullied and abused as a child, he said.
Bay’s attorney, James Broccoletti, said during jury selection that Bay’s mental condition was the central issue.
“The defense is that Philip Bay was legally insane at the time of the acts alleged in the indictment,” Broccoletti told potential jurors. “That means that because of a mental disease or defect, he did not understand the nature, the character or the consequences of his actions or could not understand right from wrong.”
Bay was 17 when he was charged in 2009 in connection with what authorities called a plot against the school. He faces 11 counts of manufacturing or possessing an explosive device with intent to cause harm; possessing a weapon of terrorism with intent to terrorize; two counts of possessing a sawed-off shotgun; soliciting or recruiting for an act of terrorism; and committing, conspiring or aiding in the commission of an act of terrorism.
Read more on Hampton Roads.
Bipolar Disorder can, in severe forms, be accompanied by psychotic thinking. But if planning took place over time measured in weeks or longer, I think the defense has its work cut out for it if it plans to claim that at no point was the young man sane and fully aware that what he was planning to do was wrong.
I’d really be curious to read any psychiatric or psychological evaluation of the defendant conducted at the time of his arrest.
More information on the use of the insanity defense in Virginia can be found here. He may wind up being incarcerated for longer than he might for a straight prison sentence, depending….
I was somewhat stunned to read this news item by Rick Malwitz of Gannett about how a New Jersey teacher has been sentenced to jail for 90 days after pleading guilty to a disorderly persons offense. The teacher reportedly grabbed a student by the back and ear to remove him from a classroom. The teacher has also lost his right to ever be a public employee in New Jersey again.
Why am I stunned, you ask? Two reasons:
1. I have seldom seen teachers charged for physically abusing students.
2. The charges/accusations seem relatively mild compared to the horrendous abuses we hear about with disabled students.
So what’s going on here? I do not know if the student in question is a special education or not. If not, I hope that the state is prosecuting teachers who abuse disabled students as vigorously as they prosecuted this case.
An elementary school principal must stand trial for allegedly telling parents that a band teacher who later admitted to molesting students had only been touching the girls to help them keep time in music class, the 7th Circuit ruled.
Karen Grindle, the principal at Pershing Elementary School when the abuse came to light, claimed she couldn’t be sued for due process and equal protection violations because the alleged victims and their parents failed to show that a clearly established right had been violated.
But Judge Joel Flaum of the Chicago-based court said Grindle’s "deliberate indifference" to the evidence of abuse makes her potentially liable for constitutional violations.
WSB-TV in Georgia has a story on their web site today about how a surveillance camera on a special education school bus in Fulton County enabled school authorities to determine that a bus aide had grabbed an autistic 10-year old and put him in a head-lock. The aide subsequently told the student’s mother that she had intervened after the child had allegedly been involved in an altercation with another student on the special education bus.
"Restraining does not come by restraining someone by the face," said the child’s mother.
"Protocols are in place and they were not followed. Immediately upon learning about this situation from the parent we launched an investigation. Based on our findings, we made the decision to terminate the bus employees and file criminal charges," Fulton County School official Allison Toller said in a statement to Channel 2 Action News.
The aide faces battery charges.
I received a request to post a research recruitment notice. As is my long-standing policy on tourettesyndrome.net, I required, and was sent, a copy of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval of the research. An IRB approval provides some assurance that the university has reviewed the research design, safety, and ethical considerations involved in the proposed research and found it acceptable. In this case, I also happen to know that the doctoral candidate has been involved in this issue for a number of years and is trying to follow up on some groundbreaking research conducted by Dr. Charol Shakeshaft. The recruitment notice follows. If you have questions or concerns, contact the researcher directly.
My name is Mary Lou Bensy, and I am a Doctoral Student and researcher at Hofstra University, located in New York. As part of my Doctoral Dissertation, I have developed a survey to gather vital information to learn more about the sexual harassment and abuse of special education students in schools. The sexual abuse of individuals with disabilities is an extreme form of the dehumanization and humiliation to which individuals with disabilities are subjected. Through this research, I hope to gather vital information, never before systematically collected, that will expose the extent of the abuse in educational settings, and enable us to protect this victimized population.
The survey is designed primarily to gather information on individuals with disabilities who have ever been sexually abused in the school setting.
Parents, guardians, advocates and caregivers of students with disabilities are asked to respond to my web-based survey, on behalf of the victimized student. If an individual chooses to respond on behalf of more than one student, he/she can feel free to take the survey more than once. Adult survivors are asked to complete the survey for themselves. The survey is anonymous. When the research results are reported, it will be done with no identifiable information from individual participants.
I ask that you would consider including this link to my survey, on your website, to facilitate the collection of this vital information: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/abuse_studentswithdisabilities
Enhancing the knowledge-base regarding the sexual abuse of children with disabilities in not without risks. However, the failure to expose the full extent of this problem can only result in the perpetuation of the abuse and the exploitation of students with disabilities.
Mary Lou Bensy, Adjunct Professor
Counseling, Research, Special Education and Rehabilitation
Hempstead, New York 11549
Image credit: Tatyana Chernyak, Dreamstime. Photo for illustrative purposes only and does not indicate that the child pictured has ever been abused.