Today I struggle with the facts…
-Oct. 1, 1986: Poetter charged by Douglas Sheriff Earl Lee with three counts of sodomy, one count of cruelty to children and one count of simple battery. At the time, Poetter is believed to be in Mexico City. Carl Maxwell Moore, Poetter’s chauffeur, is charged with sodomy.
Oct 1 1986, I was at Anneewakee. I had been there for a year. During that month I remember only one person being pulled out of the program, and that was one of the first people I ever saw get pulled out!
We came back to our group site after a day of working. There was a car parked at the entrance of our trail. How odd this was. Most parents had never seen Anneewakee. Parents were allowed to come to the first building on the road, this is where we had family counseling. I do not remember parents ever coming past that point. Up till this day we had no hope. No one I knew had ever been pulled out of the program and you usually had to be 18 to go home.
As we walked closer to the trail, one of our group members became excited, and ran to the woman standing outside of that car. It was Sonja’s mom!!! She seemed angry. She wasn’t going to take any shit from our group leader/Staff person. She said ” get your things right now, we are leaving ” I am pretty sure she followed us down the trail to our campsite, and was the only parent to ever do that!!!! Sonja packed her things into a plastic bag and went home that day. We did not get to say good bye to her, not in a real way. The bonds that we made at Anneewakee were unbreakable. I though about her for years and years, she reminds me of an actress I see a lot. Last year I was reunited with her and this makes me happy. I told her how that had given us hope and that made her happy.
I had a family counselling session on Oct 30 or Oct 31st, 1986. I had a copy of our Psychiatrist schedule. It showed how we each went in to see him, 5 minutes apart.
Here is a bill for a month at ATC, Dr Balbona was the Psychiatrist who made sure we all stayed as Anneewakee. He would tell our insurance companies how we needed to stay at Anneewakee, to sty alive…. He did not speak English and one day when I said to him I wanted to be on drugs like some of the other girls, he put me on Ritalin. By 1986 they were charging 100$, twice a week for every 5 minutes we spent with the Dr.
I planned to show my parents proof, finally, that I had been telling the truth the whole time, and this place was full of shit. I had no idea Poetter had been in jail since Oct 6th. I can only assume that this was all over the news and TV at the time, because ever since, when I mention I had been at Anneewakee to someone from Georgia, They knew exactly what I was talking about. I was wearing my Halloween costume. This is how I know my dates were correct. They only let you dress up one day a year at ATC, and that was it.
During Family Counselling, it was also brought up by my Mom, that she thought they had been tampering with my mail. She said that I had dated every letter, and they never had come to her in the order they were written. She wanted to know if this was their sneaky way of making me look crazy and inconsistent..My parents got angry and yelled at my Councillor. I believe they were trying hard not to believe the truth by this point because it hurt them so much to know it. Every single letter I had ever written home, begged them to believe my side of the story and to come get me. For a year they had been told I was lieing….They finally rescued me.
I went home that day…. I went right back to my campsite and packed a garbage bag of my things, I do not think they let my parents come with me to the campsite.
When I went home I did not watch the TV and had no idea any of these things were happening in the news. I found out years later, that I had a chance to go to court and get paid back for a year of hard labor, and more.
Today I still have nightmares. Almost regularly. Usually in my dreams, I am trying to ask for help or tell my story and no one will listen to me. I woke up from a dream last week, and was crying, almost hyperventilating. I normally do not spend a lot of my time thinking about Anneewakee, but my dream inspired me to tell my story and hope some one will listen to it. Maybe once I am done, I can dream about something better.
Right now I have to ask, Where where the angry mobs of parents? Why didn’t they come? No one listened to us!
-Nov. 7, 1986: Nine young women, ages 19 to 24, sue Anneewakee, charging the hospital with racketeering and conspiracy to abuse them sexually and physically, and defraud them financially. Poetter released after five weeks in the Douglas County Jail when friends and supporters raise his $1 million bond.