Sunday, November 25, 2007

Patricia O'Dell Case

The following was a press release sent out for Patricia O'Dell in February 2003:

Press Release
For Immediate Release
25 February 2003

Patricia and Ray O'Dell, citizens of Vermont and of Cherokee and Mohawk descent, are the parents of four children (ages 8-15) held in SRS (Social Rehabilitative Services) custody since September 13, 2002. The state took custody of these children charging 'educational neglect' because the O'Dells homeschool their children. SRS and the VT Department of Education cannot define 'educational neglect'. The state then placed the O'Dell children in the Bennington school district where the schools are on the state's failing list of schools. Patricia O'Dell was shackled and incarcerated for 7 days due to charges stemming from these allegations.

Since the O'Dell children were taken by SRS they have suffered abuse, neglect, sexual harassment and molestation at the hands of case workers, foster parents and individuals allowed to have unsupervised contact with the O'Dell children while they remain in state custody. Photos, tapes and letters document these abuses. The O'Dell children were separated and are being housed with four different foster homes. They have little contact with each other and are only allowed a 1-hour supervised visit with parents two days a week.

Individuals and agencies such as Governor James Douglas, Secretary of Human Services, Senator Patrick Leahy, Senator James Jeffords, Congressman Bernard Sanders, Senator Richard Sears, Senator Mark Shepard, Rutland SRS, FBI, Lt. Governor Brian Dubie, Senator John Crowley, Senator Hull Maynard and others have been contacted and urged to assist and protect these children but only a few have responded favorably although not enough to stop the abuse. The O'Dell parents have been told at nearly every encounter with these individuals and agencies that SRS is untouchable or that SRS is investigating itself.

The O'Dell children live in constant fear of reprisal from their custodians when they speak out against their abusers. Audio tapes and letters have been smuggled out of the foster homes by the children that reveal a constant barrage of abuses, including coercion, bribes and threats. The O'Dells want their children removed from their present foster homes and placed in safe homes in another county for the time being. They have no recourse but to take their plight to the public since even the Governor has no authority to intervene and protect their children or simply won't. The O'Dells' pleas have fallen on deaf ears at every level in the state government. The more the O'Dells complain to local, state and federal officials the more the abuse is heaped upon their innocent children.

A press conference was held at 11:00 a.m. at the state capitol on Thursday, February 20, 2003 by the O'Dells. Packets of written information were available to the media. Patricia O'Dell read the following statement to the press:

"We, Patricia and Ray O'Dell, as Vermont citizens, are respectfully requesting that Governor James Douglas use his authority and power to remove our four children, being held in SRS custody for the charge of Îeducational neglectâ, from their present abusive Bennington County foster homes and to place them in safe foster homes in the Rutland County, where we are presently residing, until this matter can be resolved in the courts.

We have pleaded and begged for months to authorities, state and federal representatives, agency heads and to the media to protect our children from the abuse and neglect they have received while in SRS custody. We have documented these abuses and now wish to take our pleas to the public in order to protect our children and, to quite possibly, save their young lives."

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