by Jack Anthony Barnes
August 24th, 1992
|The information I am about
to give in writing is completely true from what I can put together from
memory. This case is a travesty of justice and it has caused my family
and I nine years of suffering, worry, and mental scars that can never be healed.
The purpose of this paper is to give simple examples and to provide a foundation
of understanding for this case. It is, in no way near, the complete
story or absolute perfect story. It is intended to give the reader
an attention grabber and hopefully get the system in gear. Without
further attention, this paper is worthless.
Let me start by giving a brief explanation of the history of my childhood before and during the court hearings which led to the convictions of my mother, father, uncle, and friend Earl. My parents were married soon after high school, and neither of them were working. So, in turn, when I was born we were a poor family, but we were getting by. I do not know exactly when we were put on welfare, but we were on it.
By the time my 3 siblings, Shawn, Krista, and Logan were born we were living in a house, but it was unfurnished. Welfare was only paying about $350/month for the 6 of us, therefore, we couldn't afford furnishings, just rent. We had very little food, and we weren't very clean. Not only that, but we were unliked and teased by neighbors and school people. The teasing led to fights and we were often bruised or cut or had scars.
The aggravation of being poor often caused verbal fights amongst our parents. The fights never involved us as children. The fights usually didn't last long and they would make up shortly after. It wasn't a good situation, and I can see why someone would want to help out. Now, I agree that maybe we should have been taken away until our parents could have gotten jobs and been able to take care of us, but things got out of control and that's where the trouble started.
What started out, maybe in good hopes, had turned into a nightmare. I know nothing of the procedure by which we were removed from our parents custody. Although I think they are supposed to look to a relative or a friend of the family first, rather than foster care, I do not know if this procedure was followed. Nevertheless, we were forced to live in a foster home.
Upon entering the foster home we met our new outspoken foster parents, the Pierces. As soon as they met us they fell in love with us and openly expressed wanting to keep us forever. I was very afraid of them. I was afraid and I had very little understanding of what exactly had happened and why we were there. Furthermore, whenever I would inquire as to why we were there, I was brushed off or told to go play. I just couldn't understand why anyone would have taken me away from home, I was always happy there - even through the bad times.
After a month or so of living with the Pierces, they started questioning us about things that were strange to us then - physical and sexual child abuse. Of course we had very little understanding of what these things were, so we denied them over and over again. After denying them enough, it seemed to aggravate them. We began to be told to say what they wanted us to say or we would be punished.
Punishment would be going to bed extremely early with no dinner, being yelled at constantly, or no TV or toys to play with. Yet when we would say what they wanted us to say, we would be treated with respect and given privileges like staying up late, extra food, and watching TV. Now, I'm not a psychologist or doctor, but if you are a young child, (as we were) you would much rather be treated good than bad. In turn, you would do the things that got you good things, rather than the bad things that got you in trouble.
That was our case, and after a while, we just told them what they wanted to hear. In doing so, we let go of the importance of our parents. We were simply living for ourselves. Eventually we were aquainted with two lawyers who would treat us extra nice. They made it so we would trust them. That's when we started going on mock court trials.
Here we were told what we would be asked and how to respond, in order to accomplish whatever they were trying to accomplish. At the time I had no idea what that was. I want you to pay special attention to this point: DURING THE ENTIRE COURT PROCESS I WAS NEVER INFORMED OF THE FACT THAT IF THESE THINGS WE WERE SAYING GAINED GROUND, OUR PARENTS COULD BE IMPRISONED. I also felt that this was done on purpose so that we would not realize what we were doing, and tell the court that it was all lies. Also during the whole process we were not allowed to look at newspapers or watch TV. We were kept in the dark about what was going on and therefore we could in no way find out what we had done.
I do not know or understand how or why this whole business of child abuse, sexual or physical, got started. I do not understand the pure heartlessness it would take to start such an absurd thing and then to destroy countless lives, and destroy and use innocence in order to do it. We were simply a poor family trying to get by. We were living in what other people say is unfit and dirty, but I still see no reason for the charges of child abuse. It was bad enough we had to be taken, much less charging our parents and family with abuse.
I think we had a pretty bad reputation and a lot of people thought, as soon as these charges were brought up, that they might as well jump on the bandwagon and eat a piece of the glory pie for being child abuser busters.
This report is the best I can write from memory, it is a compilation of examples and is not very thorough in its details. I would have to give verbal testimony in order to be more specific; but, in short, 4 innocent people sit in a prison cell today for a crime that was never committed. Their only crime was that they didn't have enough money, reputation, and standing, to back them in a court that only looked at the case from a one-sided perspective. I do hope that this tragedy can be resolved. I do believe in the system and I hope that it can catch the mistake that it caused and do its best to resolve it.
I have taken the liberty to write this letter out of the goodness of my heart. There has been no outside pressure from my family, or from anyone else. I have been told by my caseworkers for years that it would not help me nor the people in prison to write a letter, or to speak the truth about this matter. I say they're wrong and I just have to try.
St. Joseph's Children's Treatment Center in Dayton, has found me to be sane and perfectly fine to live a normal life, so I feel as though my word should have just as much weight as any other citizen in court. I did not go into my life after the foster home because this letter is not for my good, it is for the people who have suffered and are still suffering. I would like to apologize to my family and any others involved in this case that have suffered any loss because of my weakness and ignorance in the courtroom.
To whomever reads this letter, please believe my words and help us, the words are the absolute truth and this problem must be solved. Remember, they are suffering unjustly.