This was first posted on June 5, 2007. I am bumping it back to the top due to the local paper finally getting around to printing the story. Excerpts and link to the story are after this post. [TP]
I've seen article in newspapers [News & Observer] and read blogs [Scrutiny Hooligans] that have addressed a need for state funds for a state health system.
Yesterday, it became real for me as far as possible consequences of not funding the mental health system. I sat in a courtroom in Macon County, and witnessed a man being sentenced to 288 plus months in prison for a 16-count sex crime against a 13 year-old girl. What does that have to do with mental health?
According to testimony, the man was being treated for a type of Bipolar Disorder with Manic episodes. I don't know what that means on the surface beyond what is available in poular culture and having had a friend who was bipolar. The man had been treated for his condition for something like two decades, until 2003, when the state mental health system was broken up, and funds were no longer available for therapy. This man was hospitalized numerous times during the "manic phase" of his condition.
Also, according to testimony, during the manic phase, people tended to engage in pleasure seeking experiences. Sometimes this would be sexual in nature.
The story is ugly in this case. Apparently, according to court testimony, the 13 year-old came from a bad family situation, and it was alleged that the father of the girl even took the girl to this man's home to "spend the night." The girl , and other siblings have been removed from the home.
The crimes took place over a period of time, and an alert bus driver can be thanked for noticing that the girl would get off and on the bus occasionally in a place that was not her normal stop. On the occasion that resulted in the eventual arrest of the perpetrator, the girl had an overnight bag, and when questioned, told the driver the name of the man she was "spending the night" with. The alert driver called the sheriff's office.
I will not go into detail about the evidence due to it's graphic nature.
I cannot help but wonder if this man had been in therapy if this crime would have happened. I am not saying that the man was not culpable. He was, and is. He, in my opinion, got off light. The little 13 year-old girl did not.
I wonder how many more cases like this are out there?
**Note** I will add links to the local papers when they are published, so you can see the details. The story weighed on my heart, and I could not hold on to it while the Legacy Media dithered.
[snip to end of article]
Franklin resident Michael David Hurwitz, age 48, was convicted after pleading guilty to 16 felony charges of statutory rape of a person who is 13 years of age. Resident Superior Court Judge J.U. Downs sentenced Hurwitz serve an active prison term of a minimum of 24 years and a maximum of 29 years, seven months.
Source: Macon County News
The case was ready to go to trial Monday before Hurwitz pled guilty. Hornsby said that the trial would have likely lasted four to five days. Hurwitz tried to plead earlier in the case that he was bi-polar and didn’t know what he was doing. The prosecution’s evidence was very strong and included physical evidence that is normally not present in similar cases.
The reporter covering this story completely ignored the testimony of the defense at the sentencing hearing, apparently failing to connect the failure of the state mental health system with the cessation of therapy the perpetrator had been receiving. That is, if the reporter actually attended the sentencing and was relying on word of mouth or a release by the Sheriff's Department or Court.
As Screwy mentioned in the comments, treatment is cheaper than incarceration. I agree, in terms of financial considerations, time spent by all involved in the case, the moral cost to the victim, her family, and those who will have to try to help her recover from this crime---if that is even possible.
I will be contacting my state representatives to use this case as an example of the type of things that could be prevented by having at least some sort of safety net available.