A video that a school in Massachusetts has fought in court for years to keep under wraps was played in public for the first time this week, revealing the torture of a disabled boy through the use of repeated electric shocks.
The Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) in Caton, Massachusetts has for years been pushing back against allegations of flippant use of electric shocks and other abuses against its special-needs students, and it had managed to keep video central to a case brought by one former student’s mother under wraps.
Now, the public knows why.
Footage played in court this week and captured by a local Fox News affiliate shows former student Andre McCollins, then a disabled 18-year-old, strapped to a table and screaming savagely in pain as faculty applied 31 individual jolts of electricity over the course of seven hours. He was ultimately hospitalized.
JRC lawyers insist the shocks were applied as part of a treatment routine meant to pacify mentally and emotionally troubled students, and that McCollins was just one of many who have undergone the so-called therapy. They also claimed he was “aggressive,” and therefore needed the treatment.
Security camera footage revealed, however, that the boy’s prolonged torture was brought on when he refused to remove his jacket in class.
His mother Cheryl told a jury this week that she never agreed to the procedure and that she had “no idea that they tortured children in the school.” She added that he appeared to be “catatonic” during a family visit three days after the incident.
The video, filmed in 2002, was sealed by another judge eight years ago amid a lawsuit filed by McCollins’ mother, but a higher court ordered it be displayed to the public earlier this week. JRC attorneys tried to convince the judge to bar news cameras from the courtroom for the screening, but she refused.
The trial is still ongoing.
The footage below is disturbing and may be considered not safe for work.
This video is from My Fox Boston, published Wednesday, April 11, 2012.
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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