Letters

Letters from the week of May 29, 2003

 Begging Your Pardon

Fife drummed: Just finished your column on Fife Symington ("Criminal With an Asterisk," Rick Barrs, May 15). Congratulations. I couldn't have written one any better. What a shame this state has to put up with trash like that. Keep up the good work.

John J. O'Connell
Glendale

Hitting a Nerve

Image problem: I am writing this letter to you about Heather Grossman ("Paralyzed in Paradise," Amy Silverman, May 1). I am one of the many nurses who had the privilege of working with Heather. I was not one of the nurses contacted about the abuse that Heather suffered. I left for many reasons, and one of them was the difficulty in watching someone being slowly, and deliberately, tormented. Someone who could not defend herself but was held prisoner to the endless tirades and tantrums for some ridiculous "something."

At the time that I worked with Heather, John was concerned about his "image" and the opinion of others. He was more careful about what he did and when he did it. He had it written in our communication book that if he came into the room while we were caring for Heather, we were to immediately leave until he was through "talking" to her. Anyone, including the kids, could hear his verbal abuse through the closed door.

The rest of us have the ability to walk away from such idiocy. This is not a choice that Heather had. She was held captive and forced to listen to the sometimes two-hour-long ranting and raving of John, because of an injury caused by her first abusive husband that left her paralyzed from the neck down. I watched her try at first to defend herself or the kids to him and then slowly, after the abuse continued on and on, she would just lie in her bed and silently listen to the verbal assault.

She heard over and over about what a terrible wife and mother she was. That she could not do even the simplest of things right. That he could not do what he wanted because of her or because of the kids. When I would return to the room after these marathon "talks," Heather would be so upset and emotionally spent that it would take hours just to get her calmed down so that she could finally fall asleep. She would wake in the morning to much of the same thing with John storming into the room complaining about the kids, sometimes dragging them with him, so that he could berate them in front of their mother. They, too, would hear about just how awful they were and that they obviously were a "Samuels" and not a Grossman. They would have to answer repeatedly if they wanted to be a Grossman or a Samuels, and if they wanted to be a Grossman, they better start behaving differently. Their rooms were "inspected" and if the least little thing was not done correctly they were marched in front of Heather where she would hear about what a horrible mother she was and what terrible kids she had. The child would have to listen to their own mother being "trashed" in front of them and know that their turn was next. This is what they started their school day with and what Heather started her day with.

The rest of us could make the obvious choice to just leave, and it still would be scary for some of us. The choice for Heather is incomprehensible to those of us who do not have to worry about our next breath, or wonder who will lift us out of bed and place us in a wheelchair, or give us a simple sip of water.

There are many reasons that I will always look back on my time spent with Heather and count it a privilege and an honor to have had the extraordinary experience of getting to know her. If any of your readers ever have the opportunity to meet this remarkable person, they will understand why I say this.

Debbie Cason, RN
Via e-mail

Inhuman treatment: The most heinous crimes are the ones committed against children and anyone who cannot defend themselves because of physical/mental infirmities. John Grossman is not human. He is evil. How can we allow him to walk the streets and expose other victims to his abuse? Abuse isn't a strong enough word for the horrific things he's done to this family. I've met this family and thought Heather extremely nice and the children very well-behaved. I'm heartsick they've had to live through this sick torment inflicted by this barbaric person. I can only hope we as a society would want to prosecute John to the fullest extent of the law and protect its most vulnerable citizens. I pray for Heather, her children and her parents that they will be vindicated. John should suffer the consequences of his actions because he knows right from wrong. I think it's perfectly obvious why Heather and the children were afraid to come forth in the beginning. It doesn't take a genius to figure it out. Put yourself in their shoes. Have you ever been that afraid for your children's lives or your own life? As far as the case in Florida, this is a completely separate issue and should be judged on that basis. Please don't let the legal/moral time clock run out on this family.

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