By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
"After all that had happened," Chuck Johnson says, "it seems reasonable that the least they could have done was kept them apart. But instead, David was allowed to frighten and intimidate Michael."
Bartley's insistence that the school adequately supervises contact between older and younger students also rings hollow in light of another molestation, this time of a 6-year-old boy, on the PDSD campus earlier this year--well after the superintendent's reforms had been instituted.
@body:Bobby came home from his PDSD preschool class last January 15 and went straight to the bathroom. When the boy emerged some time later, he complained that his "butt hurt." Through sign language, the 6-year-old explained that while he was using a bathroom at PDSD, a "big boy" had put his "penis inside." The mother scooped the child up and raced to the Phoenix Indian Medical Center for an immediate examination.
According to his medical report and in a later letter written to confirm his findings, the pediatrician on duty at the hospital, Dr. Roy Teramoto, discovered an "abrasion" and sperm near the boy's rectum. He quizzed Bobby on how he had been injured, and the boy pointed to his penis and rectum and repeated that he had been "hurt" by a "big boy." The doctor called the police, who filed a report and quickly tracked down the "big boy," a 17-year-old PDSD high schooler whom Bobby identified as his attacker.
Rumor of the assault electrified the PDSD community. More than 100 parents showed up at a hastily organized meeting on campus to demand information and action from school officials. But according to Mary Jane Nichols, little was forthcoming.
"We were met with a stone wall," Nichols remembers. "They had nothing to say but, 'Everything is fine, nothing has been proven yet.' But it was obvious that everything wasn't fine."
The events of the following days are a bit murky, and are not specifically documented by police or medical reports. What is clear is that the investigation into Bobby's molestation was unceremoniously dropped by police within weeks, with little further inquiry. According to Sevrin Huselid, a lawyer hired by Bobby's parents, the case was short-circuited when the sperm sample recovered from the boy was misplaced by lab workers.
"If it hadn't been for the loss of that key piece of evidence," Huselid says, "the person who did this to Bobby could have been positively identified. As it was, the police had to drop the case."
Neither police nor Indian Medical Center officials responded to New Times' inquiries about Bobby's molestation. Although Bartley refused to discuss specifics of the case, he did say the fact the case was dropped "completely vindicates" the boy Bobby accused of molestation, and should not be weighed as evidence against the school.
Huselid insists, however, that the medical record compiled by Dr. Teramoto confirms that Bobby was molested by someone, and most likely someone at the school.
"The bottom line is that somebody molested the kid during the day, while he was at PDSD," he says. "Just because we don't or can't know now for sure who did it doesn't make that any less of a fact."
Huselid condemns the school for failing to properly segregate younger kids, and says he's "not sure PDSD did anything" to try to get to the bottom of who molested Bobby. The boy's parents, Huselid says, are considering filing a lawsuit to drive the point home.
Nichols says that she, along with many other concerned parents, doesn't have to be convinced. As president of HEARS, Nichols serves as a clearinghouse for horror stories that have sprung out of PDSD, and she says the molestation cases are only the proverbial tip of the iceberg--the worst-case outcomes of an institutional laissez faire attitude that permeates the school.
Interviews with selected PDSD parents reveal a startling sample of stories of neglect. One mother reports that her child, who made a trip to the school nurse's office because of a sudden illness, was forgotten and left alone after the school closed for the day, locked in the dark infirmary. The child was rescued after a lengthy nighttime search of the school grounds by her parents. Another preschool-age child was left sleeping on the bus one night, discovered only after the parents called school officials wondering why their daughter hadn't been dropped off at home.
Nichols, in fact, has dealt with so many angry parents--who turn to HEARS as an outlet for their frustrations--that she decided earlier this year to pull her own child out of PDSD.
"I wasn't going to wait for my child to get hurt or molested," she says.
Another parent, who is moving her family out of their home of 18 years to live in a school district that offers its own special programs for deaf kids, says she feels "like I don't have any other choice."
"I know there are a lot of dedicated teachers and professionals at the school," she says. "But there are too many who just don't give a damn, or who aren't smart enough to give a damn.
"I don't want my kid to be the next victim of incompetence."
@body:David is gone. Granted a high school diploma from PDSD in the spring of 1993, he no longer lives at his last known address. Attempts by New Times to locate him failed.