To the Editor:
To those of you who are not aware, I participated along with Shawn Doyle and Jim Maroney in trying to garner attention last summer to a 15-year-old boy that we had all become acquainted with.
Mr. Maroney was the first to meet the teen and began counseling with him.
He introduced the teen to Doyle for two reasons. The teen in question was looking for a summer job, and Maroney knew that the Rural and Migrant Ministry and the Half-Shire often hired local students to do yard work.
Maroney also hoped that Doyle could help the parents and the school reestablish communication.
The teen’s parents were very vocal and felt they had cause to bring litigation against Pulaski Academy and Central School for allegedly not providing tutoring when the child was suspended from school for an extended period of time.
In June of 2017, I became acquainted with the teen in question when Doyle told me about him, and I hired him to mow the lawn at the Rural & Migrant Ministry.
I saw the teen 7-8 times throughout the summer of 2017, some times with others and some times without.
He began to tell me and others about his home life.
He lived with his mother, step-father and toddler brother.
He told me he was afraid of his step-father, who pushed him around and locked him in his bedroom.
He was not allowed to have friends over, nor was he allowed to talk on the phone.
He was forced to do many chores, including building a shed and working with his step-father paving driveways.
The palms of his hands were covered in callouses.
He was not allowed in the house when his parents were not home.
They would lock him outside.
He called me shortly after school one day.
He was home and locked out and needed to use the bathroom. He asked me to come get him and bring him to RMMOC to use the bathroom, which I did.
In addition, He told me that his step-father pushed him into a wall and his hand was hurt.
His parents did not provide medical care, but he was seen at the Urgent Care when his mom took him in when she, herself, was being seen.
The teen told me that his hand was broken in two places and that the doctor at Urgent Care told his mother that he needed to be taken to a hospital, which never happened.
He also told me that he was often hungry that he was not allowed to eat until his little brother woke up, around noon, because the noise of getting something to eat would wake the little brother.
And that some of the food in the house was off limits to him, and his parents told him what he could have.
Another time, the teen showed up at my house in the wee hours of the morning.
He told me the police and his parents were looking for him because they thought he had run away, again.
He was upset and crying.
I called his parents, but they didn’t come to get him.
He spent the night at my house.
The police came around 9 to pick him up and take him to CPEP, the psychiatric emergency room at St. Joe’s, which the parents utilized on at least two occasions last summer.
The last time I saw this teen, he told me that his parents had hosted a sex party replete with adult toys.
He said one woman had vomited near the bathroom and was passed out on the floor.
Through tears, he told me that he was afraid and that he kept a watch on his little brother, who he said slept through the whole thing.
I believed what this teen told me.
I’d always learned that children don’t lie about such things.
Whether or not he was telling the truth, I am now not sure.
Although children maybe don’t lie, teenagers do and for a variety of reasons.
This appears to be a very troubled family that uses physical and emotional violence toward this teen, at least that’s what he told me.
I believed him.
On a couple of occasions, I witnessed his parents become belligerent and out of control.
In fact, the step-father chased me all the way from his home to the Orwell Diner, approximately 5-7 miles, because he saw my car go by.
I was giving a tour to my relatives and was heading to St. Francis Farm, where I visit on occasion.
I did not see him following me as there was a big truck in between.
Once I got out of my vehicle, he slammed to a stop, spewing gravel and yelled and cursed at me for driving by his house. It appeared that he was going to get out of his car, but stopped when he saw my brother-in-law.
He continued to scream and curse at me before speeding off.
I did call the police and was visited by a state trooper, who said that he couldn’t do anything regarding the step-father’s behavior toward me.
The trooper said he had a right to protect his family which is what the step-father claimed to be doing.
I also called the DA’s office and spoke with Mark Moody, who reiterated what the trooper had told me.
For real…. step-dad is a big man. I’m a heavy set 5’4” widowed, 63-year-old grandmother of four with a bad heart.
Yep, I’m a big threat.
It was this type of bullying behavior on the part of the parents that made us think this child was really in trouble, which in part is what made me, Shawn Doyle, Jim Maroney and others believe and advocate for the child.
I made a report to CPS as did the school. Both Doyle and I spoke to the child’s law guardian regarding our concerns.
Nothing ever came of it.
Doyle talked to the police, again nothing came of it.
In the meantime, the child kept contacting us and pleading with us for help and showing up where he thought he might find us, showing up with bruises and broken hands.
How I wish someone in authority had listened.
How I wish I had known about the existence of the Child Advocacy Center of Oswego County; perhaps, it would have paid attention and tried to help this teen.
All our hearts went out to him, and we really wanted someone who could do something to listen to him.
Try as we might that just didn’t happen.
There are several neighbors as well as other organizations involved who knew of the violence and screaming in the house, yet none of them has been contacted by the police, CPS or any authority that I am aware of.
The police have paid multiple visits to the home.
Everyone involved with this teen has done his or her best to find help for him, yet it appears that perhaps there is something more important to the police and officials of Oswego County than the life of this teen.
Doyle and Maroney pled guilty to the charge of providing $60 to this teen.
The court called it Child Endangerment, which has become a catch all term.
They were guilty of nothing else, nothing, and that is why charges were dropped.
The police, the DA and every law enforcement agency tried to have these charges stick.
Perhaps that is their job.
But, I’ll never understand why they did not look at the other side.
At this point in time, the teen’s family has no idea where the teen is, yet they are asking for $150,000 from Go Fund Me because they claim that people are harassing them and they need to leave the area.
To my knowledge, no one even knows who they are.
Something is amiss in that family’s home and those who should be in a position to help refuse to do so.
That is a question that bears answering.
Selena Hoyt Belser