By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
"I've already got a mom," Sam said in 1989, referring to a foster mother. "A better mom. The best mom I've ever had. And I'm pretty proud of it, too."
From time to time, Sam has told officials damning stories about his mother. Once he said his mother and grandmother, dressed in Halloween costumes, tried to kidnap him from a foster home. On another occasion, he said his mother tried to get him to fondle her in a DES waiting room. Wanda has said those stories are not true, and no witness has ever corroborated those charges of Sam's.
Through the years, Barr has kept track of Sam through indirect means. She says Sam has gotten the word to her that he has been molested in two different foster homes, once by a 16-year-old boy and once by a 27-year-old man.
And then last spring, at a foster home in Mesa, Sam allegedly molested other children.
That is why he was sent by a juvenile court judge to Phoenix Memorial Hospital, which has a program "for children who have committed serious sexual offenses," says Kelly Arnold, a spokesperson for the hospital program.
During the evaluation phase of the program, Sam underwent "penile plethysmography" so that therapists could figure out what sexually aroused the child.
According to Ruth Barr, Sam told Wanda about the test. Wanda told Barr, who, through a lawyer, contacted the ACLU. It was the ACLU that successfully persuaded the Arizona Court of Appeals to temporarily halt the use of the device on Sam.
But the court denied the ACLU's other requests: that Sam's other therapy be stopped and that Sam be removed from the hospital.
Sam is simply too troubled.
Whether Sam's problems were caused by Wanda or whether they stem from the state's six-year custody will probably never be known. For now the long-term future of Sam has taken a back seat to the fight over whether therapists should use a plethysmograph on him. Even before the current fuss, Sam was a lonely and often angry child confused about his future.
"That child is just fought down," Wanda's mother said of Sam in 1990. "He knew he couldn't win. He just quit fighting cause he couldn't fight no more.