A.J.'s Story -- Red Flags
It's important to recognize the red flags from this case so we as advocates and concerned citizens do not make the same mistake twice.
Patsy Logan (AJ’s
When asked what type of rewards
AJ received for good behavior, David Schwarz said that he would get
toys for “extra good behavior” and “an extra helping
of food at dinner for daily good behavior.”
Jessica stated that she did
not believe in counseling and claimed that AJ was never helped by imipramine.
Ironically, she felt that what he needed was a strong, well-structured
home where he would feel safe and wanted.
“I guess Jessica just
doesn’t like him. She tolerates him, and his father just doesn’t
care. No one cares but Mrs. Idrissi and me.” – Dr. Zimmern
“The staff psychologist
feels that Andrew is a very sick kid – almost at the end of his
rope. Jessica Schwarz, a combative, rude, simplistic woman with no real
love for Andrew, is the worst possible stepmother for him. Serious consideration
is being given to removing him from the Schwarz home and placing him
in a foster home. This home would have to be carefully selected; a warm,
loving person like Mrs. Idrissi would be fine. Barbara Black of HRS
will set up a meeting in the future.” – Dr. Zimmern
When AJ was administered the
Rorschach (inkblot) test, he saw alligators, fire, ghosts, lion s and
dead dragons with blood on them. According to the psychological evaluation
report, he was also preoccupied with angels.
· The second counselor
at the Center for Children in Crisis found that there was “rather
severe and continuing emotional abuse” and recommended that there
should be a more thorough investigation by HRS.
“Mrs. Jessica Schwarz
was quite clear that she didn’t believe in counseling and she
didn’t believe in drug therapy.” – Dr. Zimmern
“On May 1, 1992, Judge
Birken decreed that the natural mother and sister of Andrew Schwarz
were enjoined and restrained from contacting him, either directly or
indirectly; also, that no adult was to disparage any other involved
adult in his presence.” – Dr. Zimmern
Patsy, who turned 13 in 1990,
accused Jessica of verbal and physical abuse. She also threatened suicide,
which apparently triggered the hearings that placed her in foster care.
“Due to errors in administration,
Andrew did not receive a medical card until August, 1992. (Jessica)
then called South County Medical Health Unit and arranged for an appointment
on September 10. Her husband and two other daughters did receive their
medical cards. HRS reportedly told (Jessica) that Andrew was dropped
because he was too old.
David Schwarz is a long distance
truck driver who was rarely home.
“Andrew did say that
he does not want to see or speak to his natural mother and stepsister.
“Linda Hunter, Andrew’s second grade teacher….Thought Andrew was scared to death of something or someone. He was very loving toward her and she felt he needed love in return.” – Dr. Zimmern
“Summary: Andrew is
a depressed, anxious child with severe and long-standing parent problems.
Last spring he became suicidal, withdrawn, and was unable to assess
reality. He may have become close to a psychiatric breakdown. If Andrew
cannot live in our world, he will withdraw into his own.” –
“Something is wrong
here. Changes must be made. Why is Andrew so cooperative in school and
so rotten at home?” – Dr. Zimmern
Upon AJ’s admission
to the Psychiatric Institute of Vero Beach, he was immediately placed
on suicide precaution – someone looked in on him every 15 minutes
– day and night.
Dr. Rahaim testified that
when Andrew Schwarz’s intelligence capacity had been tested in
school in March 1990, his IQ had been 101 – average. He was tested
again in October 1991 and his IQ was 91 – low average. AJ was
tested a third time in February, 1992 – during his stay in the
psychiatric hospital – and his IQ was 86 – very low average.
In less than two years, there had been a 15-point drop in AJ’s
“The most important
thing in this little boy’s life was that he do his work and get
it all done.” – Dr. Rahaim (AJ was not quite 9 years old
at the time)
“He asked the staff
if he could please not leave the hospital, that he wanted to stay there
because he was allowed to do things there.” – Dr. Rahaim
“The bed-wetting appears
to have started very early in 1991, a few months after Andrew arrived
at the Schwarz home. It continued until the day that he was admitted
into the psychiatric hospital. I think the bed-wetting was one of many,
many symptoms of being abused and harmed.” – Dr. Rahaim
AJ found himself sobbing in
front of other people in school and other places – “just
broken-down sobbing.” He exhibited regressed behavior –
fingers in the mouth, baby talk – one of the hallmarks of an abused
AJ became close to psychotic
in the hospital when there were no visits and when visits were promised,
but they did not occur.
and need to be made secure and safe. Constantly needed to be hugged
and touched and made to feel safe. Grabbed the staff and tried to hug
them. Always wanted to be hugged and comforted. Withdrawn. Preoccupied.
Passive. No spontaneity except for needing security. No spontaneous
information.” – Dr. Rahaim
“You didn’t see
emotion, you know, laughter and things like that. He was just zombielike.”
– Dr. Rahaim
“He had no trust in
anyone. He wouldn’t complain. If you asked him what was wrong,
he’d tell you ‘he’ was wrong. His identity was very
badly shattered. In my opinion, he felt like he was worthless –
that all bad things were due to him.” (He was unable to have relationships,
to personally have friends, to share stories, or to trust anyone.) “And
there was a deep, overwhelming learned humiliation about the boy.”
– Dr. Rahaim
Scott Cupp knew that one of
the reasons it was decided at the meeting that it was all right to leave
AJ in the Schwarz home was that Dottie Daniels, Barbara Black’s
supervisor, had stated – in no uncertain terms – that it
was her opinion that all the abuse complaints coming from the neighbors
were harassment. Also, she felt it was “going to cease,”
and that it was directly a result of the biological mother.
you been taught that it’s one of the hallmark indicators of abuse
– if the bed-wetting is not tied to a physical problem?”