Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Is Isaac Being Tortured?

I didn’t want to write about this until I had more information or at least until it hit the media. But my conscience compels me to do so. And yet, I must admit I have very few details other than an official public document of complaint filed with the Washington D.C. courts. It requests injunctive relief through the U.S. State Department. I also received a press release by the law office filing suit. It was sent to me by an interested party who was asked and is trying to help out.

Obviously I do not know the defendants named nor do I have their side of the story. Nor do I know anything about the law firm filing this complaint. But I cannot imagine any possible explanation for what’s going on.

I wanted to hold off writing about it and to try and get more information. But I have no real way of doing so here in Chicago other than making this story public and hoping those who know about it will somehow read this post and respond with more information - either corroborating or refuting it.

The descriptions in this document if in any way true, cry out: “Pikuach Nefesh and Pidyon Shvuyim”. It tells of the horrible ongoing torture of a young Jewish boy - a child of religious parents with 8 children. The allegations involve horrifyingly cruel and malicious treatment of this young boy by a behavior modification facility. The description that follows is taken directly from the document filed in the D.C. Court.

A young sixteen year old boy by the name of Isaac was sent to a virtual concentration camp by his parents. The sequence of events was as follows. In 2002 the parents had ostensibly gone to Israel for a Pesach vacation. But that was a ruse. They really had intended to make Aliyah and ended up staying for four years until the father was charged by Child Protective Services with child abuse. That stemmed from a complaint by Isaac’s former school that his father was forcing medication without prescription on the child and his twin brother in order to control their behavior.

In July of 2006 Isaac was brutally taken by force to a psychiatric facility in Long Island, New York. Isaac was released six weeks later when the facility determined that he did not need their services. He was then sent to a religious family in Houston, Texas that he knew. Isaac lived with them for nine months and was not visited or contacted at all by his family.

At that time Isaac was lured back to his family in New York under a pretext of obtaining a passport for a summer job. On June 13, 2007 at 5:00 AM Isaac was seen by at least two witnesses dragged out if his parents home by two burly white males. He was handcuffed while crying, begging and pleading not to take him away.

When neighbors asked about his whereabouts, they were told he was sent away to school.

Four months later, it was determined by a witness who was there and spoke to him that Isaac was sent to a reform type school in Jamaica called Tranquility Bay. Isaac begged him to contact his twin brother to tell him where he was and get him out of there. Isacc’s twin subsequently received a surreptitious letter from him confirming that he was indeed at Tranquility Bay.

What is Tranquility Bay? It is a facility owned by a company that operates out of Utah. It has barbed wire fences and guards. And it is a faculty that has had many allegations of abuse documented against it in a lawsuit filed by 140 former students.

Allegations include children being forced to eat their own vomit; being bound and tied by their hands and feet; chained and locked in dog cages, small boxes, and cages; forced to stay in isolation for long periods of time; forced to live in unsanitary conditions; being denied adequate food, or medical treatment; or even a minimally sufficient education; numerous forms of sexual abuse... and much more. Facilities like this are currently being investigated by congress. Tranquility Bay has the most complaints lodged against it.

I hope none of this is true. But my instincts tell me that there is substance to it. In fact I am also told by the individual who sent me the court document, that various rabbinic leaders are already involved. But amazingly, they are not all on the same side. It is beyond belief that at least one of them actually sides with the parents here and opposes any interference by outsiders.

Of course there are those rabbinic leaders who vigorously support interdiction to save this young boy’s life. I would hope all rabbinic leaders who are made aware get involved. Apathy and inaction here is tantamount to complicity.

The parents have thus far not only resisted all attempts to remove Isaac from this facility, they have actively sought and obtained assistance from prominent community members in resisting efforts to transfer Isaac out of Tranquility Bay. The father has gone so far as threatening witnesses and taken retaliatory measures against them.

I don’t know what Isaac did that made his parents do this to him. But no child or any human being deserves this kind of torture.

This is where things stand now. I am told that this story is about to hit the media. It will probably name names of the rabbinic leaders involved …and make the Torah world look bad. Again.

But that shouldn’t matter at this point. What matters is that if any of these allegations are true, a young boy is being tortured in what can only be described as a modern day concentration camp - while his parents stand by and do nothing… or worse… approve of what goes on there.

If and when this does hit the media (and I hope it does soon) and the involved rabbinic leaders are identified, I would hope that all who read this post contact their rabbis or the rabbinic leaders themselves to see how they can help. This young man has suffered enough. Who knows what kind of permanent psychological damage has already been done!

Update: I wasn't aware of it when I wrote this post but Isaac's story has already been published in the New York Daily News.