Mom of former student sues Judge Rotenberg Center
DEDHAM, Mass. (WHDH) -- Cheryl McCollins, the mother of a teen who received controversial electro-shock treatment at the Judge Rotenberg Center 10 years ago, is suing three workers and the center itself.
In October of 2002, Andre McCollins, 18, received painful shock treatments the Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton. Andre McCollins was described as autistic and mildly retarded at the time of his treatment.
Shocking evidence was revealed in a Dedham courtroom on Wednesday. A video showed Andre McCollins at the center -- for people with behavioral disorders -- screaming in pain and begging for help while apparently receiving electro-shock treatment.
Cheryl McCollins was in tears as she watched the video played for a jury. She is suing three men who supervised the shock treatments and the center itself.
The Judge Rotenberg Center has been a controversial facility. About 1.5 years ago, a UN official said the shock therapy at the facility amounts to torture, and he urged the U.S. government to put a stop to it.
Though some families say the shock aversion therapy has worked, an expert hired by McCollins as a witness testified that after more than 30 shock treatments, the defendants should have known they were dealing with a different sort of patient -- who was not responding well.
“He was essentially in what we would call a catatonic condition. That means a condition that happens with people that are acutely psychotically disturbed and they let him stay in the facility basically sitting still, not eating, refusing fluids for the most part, for the next few days. They’re lucky he didn’t die,” said Dr. Marc Whaley, expert witness.
The jury was ordered to disregard Dr. Whaley’s opinion.
Cheryl McCollins testified Tuesday she never signed up for her son Andre, who is now in his late 20s, to be "tortured, terrorized, and abused."
“This violated -- in a gross fashion -- accepted standards of care,” said Dr. Whaley.
The Judge Rotenberg Center released a statement saying its aversion therapy techniques are appropriate and “on this issue of the videotape, the sole reason a recording exists is because JRC maintains cameras in every room where a student may receive treatment. It is the only such facility to do so. This is for the protection of the students in our care and is precisely to enable us to review every application of the GED.”
Testimony will continue on Thursday.
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