Support Your Local Uniformed Child Abusers

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When the first wave of Abu Ghraib revelations occurred several years ago, the most sickening allegation — and the one most difficult to prove — was that photos and other evidence exist of the sexual torture of children by U.S. or allied personnel. But as we can see from an incident that took place in a midwestern orphanage a year ago, such atrocities are not unknown within our domestic law enforcement system.

According to a federal lawsuit filed in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, “two Jefferson County deputies tased three children numerous times and assaulted another” on July 4, 2008 at the Southern 30 Adolescent Center.

Southern 30 is a facility for troubled children operated by the Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois. When three children began “acting out” in the facility’s common area, the staff made the mistake of calling the Sheriff’s Office for help.

Deputies David Bowers and Lonnie Lawler arrived and immediately began the now-familiar ritual of criminal violence under color of “law.” The focused their attention on four children — identified in the lawsuit as B.B., R.E.,  Z.P., and Megan Geisler, the last being a foster child visiting from a different facility  — who had nothing to do with the disturbance.

“Without any physical provocation and/or physical gestures from R.E., Deputy David Bowers physically pushed R.E. toward his bunk and shocked him repeatedly with a taser,” alleges the lawsuit. “R.E. was tased multiple times to multiple locations on his person, including, but not limited to, his neck. Deputy Bowers shouted to B.B. to lie down in his bunk and physically forced him to lie down. Without physical provocation … from B.B., Deputy Bowers held B.B. down on his bed and shocked him repeatedly with a taser.”

In a touch right out of Abu Ghraib, Bowers coupled the taser torture with threats to sodomize B.B. while the poor terrorized child urinated and defecated on himself.

The deputies then turned their attention to Z.P. , who was handcuffed and tasered several times. Horrified by the spectacle, Megan Geisler pleaded with the deputies to stop. Bowers responded by ordering Lawler to handcuff Geisler.

According to the complaint, Bowers “grabbed Megan Geisler by her arms, lifted her off her feet, and carried her through the male dormitory to a nearby closet. On the way to the closet, Deputy David Bowers lifted Megan Geisler off the ground, pressed her against a wall and choked her. While choking her, Deputy David Bowers said, `do you want to live or die bitch’ to Megan Geisler. [She] was then thrown into a closet. At this time she began vomiting and heaving.”

Sheriff Roger Mulch, who is also named in the lawsuit, insists that his deputies “followed protocol” and “did nothing out of the ordinary.” He also claims that investigations by his department and the Illinois State Police exonerated the deputies.

Mulch also claimed that the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services validated the deputies’ actions. However, the DCFS has confirmed that tasers were used against the children by the deputies, and that the children did nothing to justify such treatment.

In his public statements Sheriff Mulch has never denied the specific allegations in the lawsuit; he has simply asserted that his deputies did nothing wrong. When asked about the accusations made in the lawsuit, Mulch replied: “Whether they contain any truth in them or not, you still have to defend [the deputies], and that’s what we’re prepared to do today.”

Whatever the outcome of the lawsuit, Sheriff Mulch has broken new ground in the field of official justification for criminal behavior by law enforcement personnel.

1:13 am on July 21, 2009