Tuesday, January 24, 2012

That Good Feeling

That Good Feeling
By: Jim Silvania, CLI, CFE
            There are times in this business when you wonder if it’s all worth it. Incoming payments are slow and every investigation seems to run into a brick wall. Then something you did weeks ago makes it all worthwhile.
            For some it’s the release of a wrongfully convicted offender. For others it is reuniting a loved one with a lost relative. The list could go on, but for me on this wonderful day it’s obtaining justice or some semblance thereof.
            Some time back we were contacted by a frustrated family in Southern Ohio who had come to the end of their wits in attempting to resolve a “bullying” issue involving their 14 year old special needs daughter. The aggrieved family had been turned away by the county prosecutor, the county sheriff, Children Services and the school system in which the alleged bullying occurred. The superintendent of the school district had ordered the family off school property and sent them an email stating that their accusations were “bordering on slander and harassment."
            In every instance the family was turned away by the people whose salaries they paid to protect their child. Even worse, the perpetrators of the alleged abuse were also recipients of the family’s tax dollars. So, in reality, the family was paying to have their daughter abused by her middle school teacher and the teacher’s aide.
            A well-placed tape recorder revealed the following conversations:

·         The teacher’s aide can be heard asking the student why she said she didn’t know the answer to a question. “Because I didn’t know,” the student said. “Are you kidding me?” the aide said. “Are you that damn dumb? You are that dumb? ... Oh, my God. You are such a liar.” “I am not lying,” the student said. “No wonder you don’t have friends,” the aide said. “No wonder no one likes you.”
·         Both the teacher and the teacher’s aide teased the student about her body. “Don’t you want to do something about that belly?” “Yes,” the girl said. “Well, evidently you don’t, because you don’t do anything at home,” the aide said. “You sit at home and watch TV.”
·         When the student failed to answer a question correctly, the teacher ordered her to climb onto an exercise treadmill, which was in the classroom to help “refocus” special-needs students. The recordings suggest that the student spent more than 15 minutes on the treadmill—with the speed steadily increasing. Eventually, the treadmill stopped working, and the girl was told to run in place.

            When the family complained to the school board, the accused teacher’s remarks were “liars raising a liar.” The school board initial investigation found “no inappropriate conduct” by either the teacher or the teacher’s aide. That was until the audiotapes were made public which in turn caused the school board to quickly settle the matter out of court for $300,000.
            The sad part of the story is that the teacher’s only punishment for her criminal acts was to be forced to attend a “bullying” seminar. The teacher’s aide was summarily dismissed. The superintendent, who allowed for the activities of the teacher and teacher’s aide to continue, received no disciplinary action.
            There are times when people have been betrayed by those they place in positions of trust to look out for their own interest and that of their loved ones. In those times the much aligned plaintiff’s attorney and their private investigators can expose the darkness to light and attempt to bring about justice for the wronged.
It’s what keeps some of us going.
Jim Silvania, CLI, CFE, owns Silvania Investigative Services, LLC. He’s investigated throughout Ohio for 45 years.
 See: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184891/vp/45302872#45302872  for Ann Curry’s interview of the victim, her father and their attorneys.