Mold Attacks!

If Gilbert school officials had played straight, Mesquite Junior High kids and teachers would've run for their lives.

Besides the show of mycotoxins in the urine, Corn's tissue sample, Croft said, "clearly demonstrates the chronic exposure to trichothecene mycotoxins to this subject."

The report Croft sent to Corn included hundreds of pages of medical literature supporting his conclusion.

Earlier this year, armed with Croft's diagnosis, along with numerous photos he had taken in 2003 of black mold in many locations at Mesquite Junior High, Corn went to Gilbert district officials seeking $675,000 in damages, an amount, he says, that he would invest so he could live out his life on the interest.

Mesquite Junior High in Gilbert. Black mold could've become the school's mascot.
Peter Scanlon
Mesquite Junior High in Gilbert. Black mold could've become the school's mascot.
Jeff Corn says the school building made him deathly ill.
Peter Scanlon
Jeff Corn says the school building made him deathly ill.

He also asked for assurance that Mesquite Junior High would be made genuinely mold-free as soon as humanly possible.

District officials said Mesquite already was mold-free.

They said Corn's request was absurd.

The district hired a University of Arizona toxicologist, Dr. John Sullivan, to review both the conclusions of Corn's doctor and the air-quality test results taken from Mesquite in 1998, 2003 and 2004.

Sullivan concluded that with the evidence provided, there was no way to link Corn's cancer to his workplace. Oddly, Sullivan didn't address any of Corn's myriad other illnesses. Sullivan brought into question, too, Croft's methodology in determining that Corn's body showed evidence of mold poisoning.

Sullivan's report was thrown back at Corn in late September. The district's offer: Three months' pay. Take it or leave it.

The only real conclusion reached in the standoff was that much more testing needed to be done on Jeff Corn's body.

But Jeff Corn has run out of money. He sold his house recently, a move that he hopes will cover some of his medical and living expenses.

More tests would strap him financially. He can't afford what would be a very expensive legal fight.

And the school district isn't going to pay for any tests because it argues it is not responsible.

Heck, Sullivan claimed, health-nut Corn might have gotten sick from the foods he ate.

So, the district wins. And Corn is left out in the cold.


By February of this year, Jeff Corn was on the verge of suicide. His sleeping problems were at a zenith. He was in pain. His memory was failing. He was deeply depressed at the thought of life with a chronically collapsing immune system.

In 2003, he had been struck by a drunk driver. After that, doctors put him on antidepressants.

In December 2004, his school insurance was discontinued. He no longer could afford the antidepressants.

In April, a friend of Corn's, seeing that he was slipping, asked a psychologist friend to evaluate Corn at no cost.

The psychologist noted the frightening collapse of Corn's physical and mental well-being.

The man once named by the Arizona Republic as the state's "Coach of the Year" was now "unable to get out of bed four days out of the week," the psychologist wrote in his report of Corn's condition. "Corn is suffering from frequent crying and suicidal ideations. He is having difficulty with concentration and memory." The psychologist also noted that Corn suffered from nervousness, trembling, headaches, dizziness, pains in the chest, heart pounding, pains in the lower back, nausea, sore muscles, hot and cold spells, numbness and "the feeling of being trapped."

Clyde Dangerfield, the attorney for the school district, noted in his interview with New Times that Corn also told him "he was hearing voices."

The implication being that Corn is too unstable to know that mold from his workplace made him unstable.

The psychologist determined that Corn was permanently disabled.

Croft, the medical pathologist who determined Corn was full of mycotoxins, said the best treatment for Corn would be at the facility of an expert in toxic mold poisoning in Dallas.

Great idea. But can Corn afford it, even with proceeds from the sale of his house?

Most likely, the Gilbert school district is free of Jeff Corn.

The problem is, Jeff Corn may not be a medical anomaly.

Corn's problems began with respiratory ailments that seemingly advanced to a host of debilitating conditions.

According to a recent study by University of Southern California researchers, Corn's progression of ailments closely mirrors the problems experienced by 65 patients who had been exposed to mold in California, Texas and Arizona.

The mold-exposed patients first complained of asthma-like symptoms, followed by persistent flu-like illnesses, severe fatigue, and impaired memory and concentration.

Compared to more than 200 non-exposed patients, the mold-exposed patients showed sometimes profound decreases in cognitive ability. Balance, motor skills, verbal recall and long-term memory were all damaged. Several patients suffered from severe depression after their mold exposure.

What is most frightening, though, is what happened when researchers gave eight of the patients the same battery of tests more than a year later, long after they had left the mold-contaminated buildings that caused their problems.

None of the eight patients showed improved functioning.

In fact, seven of the eight had gotten worse.

"Absent additional mold exposure, function in 88 percent of these patients had deteriorated during the course of the year," the study's author, Dr. Kaye Kilburn, wrote.

The point:

If Corn is dying because of toxic mold exposure at Mesquite Junior High, he may not be alone.

Which means that instead of making fun of Jeff Corn, Gilbert officials might want to provide testing for students or teachers who have shown symptoms of toxic mold exposure during their time at Mesquite.

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