Law & Order (1990) Episode Scripts

N/A - Cruel and Unusual

NARRATOR: In the criminal justice system the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups, the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders.
These are their stories.
(JOANNE LAUGHING) KEVIN: Time.
No, no, no, no.
The next time your college friends come to visit, I'm sick.
They used to be very interesting.
So was Donovan.
Good morning, how are you? Great.
What time is it? No, no, no, no, no, it's 10:18.
Fine.
10:18.
(GASPS) What time Get your hands off me! Michael! (SIREN WAILING) KEVIN: Time, time, time You having a problem here? Yeah, there's something wrong with him.
He tried to steal my husband's watch.
KEVIN: Time Hey, pally, how you doing today, huh? What time? Time.
Time for you to take a ride.
The time.
Time.
Time (PHONE RINGING) (PEOPLE CHATTERING) Hey, you going to Hanratty's later? Got a date.
At midnight? You call that a date, Lennie? The later it gets, the better they look.
KEVIN: Time.
Have a seat.
Hey, what's with that kid? A John Doe pipehead, attempted theft of somebody else's marbles.
He's waiting on a limo to Bellevue.
Hey, you leaving me with him? (MOANING) (BANGING) Whoa, whoa, whoa, kid, cut it out.
(GRUNTING) Lennie, hold my piece.
You, be cool.
I'm cool.
Hey, hey! Hey! (GRUNTS) Whoa! LOGAN: Hey! Somebody help me here, man! (KEVIN GRUNTING) LOGAN: I got it.
I got it.
What? I don't know, Mike.
I think the kid's dead.
Do I need a union rep or You can have one if you want one.
Yeah, and I can touch my knee with my elbow if I want to, but that's not what I'm asking.
Attitude's not gonna help anyone, Detective.
We need to know what happened to that kid before his family shows up waving lawyers.
The kid was stoned, and he went crazy, and I had to restrain him.
Did you use a choke hold? No way.
Well, how'd you hold him, then? I don't know, around the chest.
Things were moving very fast.
I did what I had to do.
Did you see anyone else touch him? No.
He was hitting himself in the head, okay? Hard enough to kill himself? It's a fair question.
I've seen the way you get a suspect's attention.
Now, wait a second, Lennie was right there.
He saw the whole thing.
This so-called kid was beyond strong.
I was just trying to hold onto him.
The next second he's dead.
You try to make sense out of that.
Made sense to IAD.
They're dusting off the hot seat for him.
Well, I'm keeping an open mind.
You're keeping an open mind? Then how come you got me driving a desk for the next couple of days? I took you off rotation until it plays out.
End of story.
Don't sweat it, Mike.
John Doe died from a cerebral thrombosis.
A blood clot broke.
He stroked out.
People die of strokes in their sleep.
They don't get blood clots like this without a little help.
There's evidence of repeated trauma to the left carotid artery here on the neck.
Repeated, as in over a period of time? Correct.
This boy was damaged goods long before the PD got a hold of him.
There's bruises all over his body, some a day old, some have been there a week or more.
Look at this.
These calluses on the wrists and ankles.
Kid's been tied down.
Somebody's been using him for entertainment purposes? There's no evidence of sexual trauma.
I'll give him a closer look before I send up the final report.
Well, sounds like Mike can climb off the hook.
Yeah, maybe we can find somebody else to hang there instead.
Hey.
What's the good word? IAD finally got it straightened out.
Yeah, it was a blood-clot thing.
The kid came up negative for drugs.
No kidding? What was his problem? I don't know.
There was too much sugar in his diet? His prints came up negative.
All we know about him was he had a thing about watches.
Is this his stuff? Yeah.
Watch out for lice.
(COINS CLINKING) No lice.
Lots of lint.
Kid was traveling light.
Yeah, lint here, too.
Couple of Raisinets.
Couple of pennies.
From the Midtown Cinema.
Last night.
Doesn't look too good.
He wasn't feeling too well when we took the picture.
Did you see him last night? Oh, yeah, ticket costs $3.
He paid in 300 pennies.
What're you after him for, robbing a piggy bank? Actually, he's dead, and we're trying to find out who killed him.
Killed? He was alive when he left here, kicking and screaming.
What time would that be? Movie started at 10:00.
He was out of here by 10:10.
Got out of his seat, walked into the screen.
Must have been some movie.
Stinks.
Kid was a wacko.
We threw him out.
How hard did you throw him? We never laid a hand on him.
He saw us coming.
He ran out the back.
He left his coat behind.
You want it? Yeah, sure.
(PROJECTOR WHIRRING) There you go.
Coat looks new.
Mmm-hmm.
Amtrak schedule, Greyhound schedule, Staten Island ferry schedule.
You starting to see a pattern here? Weird kid.
Showered, shaved, clean clothes.
Yeah, not your run-of-the-mill street wacko.
It looks like somebody was taking care of him.
Yeah, maybe somebody filed a missing persons.
We called the police this morning, soon as the clinic told us that Kevin ran away.
He's done this before.
Things were getting better for him.
It's been so hard.
Better for him? What was wrong with him? Kevin was autistic.
He didn't speak at all till he was eight.
How long will he have to stay in that morgue? Just a day or two, Mrs.
Jeffries, until we can start the investigation.
What investigation? (SIGHS) Your son had bruises all over him, Mr.
Jeffries, and an injury to his neck that caused a blood clot.
That's what he died from.
Somebody beat him up? That's what we're trying to find out.
You said he was living at a clinic? The Behavioral Control Clinic for the last three years.
LOGAN: I bet he kept running away from there.
Well, there's something you don't understand here.
You see, when Kevin was 10, he started to hurt himself.
He would bite himself.
He would bang his head into walls.
He It would go in cycles.
Every six months, then more often.
By the time he was 13, it would last for weeks.
We didn't know what to do.
It's been hard on all of us.
We couldn't keep Kevin here.
We had to send him away.
GEORGE: Two institutions sent him back to us.
Well, just what was the behavioral clinic doing for him? They helped him to stop him from hurting himself.
ELEANOR: Dr.
Colter.
He runs the clinic.
Thanks to him, Kevin was learning to draw.
We noticed he was missing yesterday morning.
We thought he might've gone home.
That's why we called his parents first.
So, what did he do? He just walked out? Pretty much.
He went out a fire exit.
We'd like to talk to his roommate.
David Vilardi.
He's non-verbal.
Anyway, he slept through it.
What's this for, Dr.
Colter? It's all covered with cracks.
Kevin wore that when he became self-injurious, hitting himself.
It's pretty common with some autistic children.
DR.
COLTER: It's frustration because of their inability to communicate.
That's why Kevin was here.
So we could modify that behavior.
Modify? Well, no disrespect to you, Doctor, but the way that sounds, it's making my skin crawl.
There's nothing sinister about it.
Granted, sometimes we have to restrain the child until the self-injurious cycle passes.
Did Kevin get restrained a lot lately? Not as often as before.
Oh.
Well, maybe you can explain this to me.
This is what Kevin looked like when we found him.
You see those bruises and the marks on his neck? Well, you're a doctor.
Maybe you can tell me how they got there.
Like I said, Kevin was self-injurious.
ALONSO: We put them in a chair or on their stomach on a padded board, right here.
Put it down.
Put it down.
Then we hold them there using soft cuffs.
Well, we found calluses on his wrists and ankles.
Well, that's how we strap them in, plus across the chest.
It's for their own protection.
What about the neck? You got to be kidding me.
No.
Well, if he had calluses, he must have been strapped in for quite a while.
He was in a bad cycle the past week.
We put him in restraints about four hours every day.
The day he ran away, he was on the board till about 6:00.
Then he was fine.
Did he mind being strapped in? Well, he minded.
Way it works is we get four people to grab his legs and arms, and we lay him out.
(CHILDREN MUMBLING) So, if he throws a punch, maybe one of you thinks you have to throw a couple back.
Kevin didn't need anybody's help to injure himself.
You want to see what a good day is for some of these kids? (GRUNTING) Bad days, they don't stop.
It's a tough call.
Kevin Jeffries could've done it all to himself.
He punched himself in the carotid artery till he got a blood clot? Hey, he threw himself against walls.
He bounced off the ceiling.
I mean, it all could've been self-inflicted.
Then, how do we explain this? The ME's final report.
She found circular wounds and muscle damage consistent with electric shocks.
How many people electrocute themselves? I'm very proud of what we do here and how we do it.
We believe in rewards, positive reinforcement.
But if they get out of line, someone zaps them with a few volts, right? Our medical examiner found evidence that Kevin Jeffries was getting electric shocks.
Yes.
It's part of the overall aversion therapy program.
Aversion? What happened to the carrot? All we do is use mild punishment to stop the self-injurious behavior.
Rewards for good behavior, mild punishment for bad.
Usually we spray their mouths with pepper juice, or pinch them.
What about the electric shocks? That's only for the tough cases.
I'll show you.
Most clinics who work with autistic children use drugs to sedate their patients.
I don't believe in drugs.
We substitute this.
We apply this to the patient's arm or leg.
It's controlled by this device.
If the child starts to harm himself, we give him a small shock.
I'd be happy to demonstrate.
Yeah, try it on me.
That's fine.
Roll up your sleeve, please.
This ought to be fun.
Right there.
Ready? (ELECTRICITY BUZZING) Ow! That's all there is to it.
That's all? I'd rather get my teeth drilled.
You call that therapy? Yes.
So does the State of New York.
(SCOFFS) Dr.
Colter's aversion therapy isn't revolutionary.
A lot of programs are based on behavior modification.
They use electrodes, too? No.
Just Dr.
Colter.
He's the only one who takes the tough cases.
The kids other institutions don't want.
You actually believe his zap therapy works? If we didn't, we wouldn't be subsidizing him.
$175,000 a year per patient.
Currently he has 83 patients.
That makes for a fat bottom line.
When's the last time somebody checked to see what he does with the money? We do periodic reviews.
LOGAN: What about the zappers? Do you review them? Yes.
Dr.
Colter's applied four times in the past six years to increase the voltage on the devices.
Apparently the patients were becoming immune to the shocks.
Well, that tells me it wasn't working.
Our board of reviewers checked the patients' files.
They saw progress.
Look, we monitor this therapy very closely.
It's approved on a case-by-case basis and only with the parents' consent.
I can't imagine any parents letting their kid get electrical shocks all over his body.
The electrodes can only be used on the forearm or the thigh.
Nowhere else.
And no more than four shocks can be administered during a one-hour period.
Well, then, we have a problem because according to our ME, Kevin Jeffries had shock marks all over his chest and all over his back.
Of course we knew about the punishments.
That's why we sent Kevin to Dr.
Colter.
We didn't want him doped up and warehoused in some hospital.
Yeah, well, did Colter tell you about these electric shocks? Yes.
I don't see what the problem is here.
I thought Kevin's injuries were self-inflicted.
We checked with the State agency.
Dr.
Colter was using electrodes on your son in ways that he wasn't supposed to.
There's got to be a mistake.
He told us Kevin was almost cured.
He said he was hardly using the electrodes anymore.
Well, that's not the way it looks, Mr.
Jeffries.
Quite a cure.
That kid was still trying to punch himself when he died in my arms.
Well, the ME said the boy was bruised and the shock marks were recent.
Doesn't exactly jibe with Dr.
Colter's bill of goods.
I'll tell you what it jibes with.
Abuse.
The kid was being tortured with a couple of AA batteries.
For what, thrills? What about those $175,000 subsidies? I, for one, think Colter was conning the State into thinking his clinic was helping those kids.
Do we know for a fact it wasn't? If you thought your kid was being abused, what would you do? This is America.
I'd sue the bastard.
Maybe someone did.
Cathy now attends the Lynchburg Institute.
It's only an hour's drive, so we can see her every weekend.
She's a beautiful girl, Mrs.
Davidson.
She'll be 14 next week.
We're having a party here at the house.
The progress she's made at Lynchburg is nothing short of a miracle.
Well, do they know something that Colter doesn't? Oh, and then some.
At the behavioral clinic, they sprayed her with pepper juice.
They used electrodes.
But at Lynchburg, they're given positive reinforcement.
They're taught relaxation techniques.
Did Colter have your consent to use electrodes? Yes, he did.
He gave us a demonstration.
It seemed harmless.
You have got to understand that my husband and I were desperate.
Well, why did you sue him? Because there is a line, and Colter crossed it when he put Cathy in that medieval torture helmet.
A helmet? Well, we saw kids with hockey helmets to protect their heads.
No, there's another one.
They call it the buzzbox.
SERENA: It works on sensory deprivation.
The child can't see anything.
There's a buzzer inside the box that makes a white noise, and so the child can't hear anything.
It's supposed to calm them down.
He kept Cathy in this helmet for three straight days.
She had bruises on her neck right here.
She passed out while she was wearing it.
We only found out because Cathy happened to tell us.
That's when we sued.
Let me guess.
Colter made a quick settlement? No, he settled, all right, as soon as we proved that this helmet cut off the blood supply to our daughter's brain.
Is he still using that? No, we made sure that he wouldn't.
We got the State to ban the use of this helmet.
Nice piece of equipment.
Something out of the Marquis de Sade's catalogue? Apparently Dr.
Colter cooked this one up in his lab.
Could it have caused the blood clot on Kevin Jeffries? Well, the helmet comes almost all the way down the neck.
The repetitive carotid damage occurred here, five centimeters below the left ear.
Same place the Davidson girl had the bruises.
So it's possible that could've killed him? Yes, I'd say it's the probable cause.
Bring me the helmet, and I'll tell you for sure.
(CAR HORN HONKING) (WOMAN CHATTERING ON POLICE RADIO) Come on.
Lights on, nobody home? Here we go.
What do you want? Office hours are 8:30 to 5:30.
Come back tomorrow.
Police! Warrant.
Get it? Open up! Look, I'm not supposed to let anyone in or out.
Dr.
Colter's very strict about the rules.
I bet.
Where is he? He's not back in until 10:00 in the morning.
Sorry.
Go back to sleep.
Look, if you tell me what you're looking for, maybe I can help you out.
This is what we're looking for.
They call it a buzzbox.
We don't use those anymore.
What's in here? It's a treatment room.
Open it.
Open it.
(ELECTRICITY BUZZING) What the hell is this? Who are you? Shut up! Let's get him off of this thing.
Detective Briscoe, we didn't find any buzzbox helmets.
Oh, great.
No helmets, no case.
What about this? The kid's rigged up for electrocution.
It's assault.
Arrest him.
What's your name? Joe Garvey.
Joe Garvey, you're under arrest for assault.
You have the right to remain silent.
Anything you say, can and will be used against you in a court of law.
You understand that? Come on.
You have the right to an attorney You've got the wrong idea, Mr.
McCoy.
Joe was just doing his job.
"I was just following orders.
" Where have I heard that before? Joe's a comp lit major at NYU.
Two weeks ago he takes a night job to pay some bills.
The men in the white coats tell him what to do.
He does it.
I just want to be very clear here, Mr.
Garvey.
Was Dr.
Colter aware of what was going on at the clinic at night? Oh, not so fast.
Joe doesn't even have a parking ticket.
I want to keep it that way.
Let's hear what he has to say.
Colter's the one who strapped him in before he left.
He put the electrodes on the boy's chest and back? Yeah.
He told me to shock him every 10 minutes.
He told me it was all part of the aversion therapy.
I didn't wanna hurt him.
Did you ever put a helmet like this one on Kevin Jeffries or any of the other kids? No.
No, I've never seen anything like it.
Before I arrest Colter for assault, I need to know I'm not stepping onto a half-frozen lake.
Can he legitimately claim what he's doing is therapy? Twenty years ago he could've.
Aversion therapy was the hot new thing to treat alcoholics and drug addicts.
But it's a quick fix.
It doesn't really work.
Well, apparently he's convinced the State that it does.
That's because he can show them short-term improvements.
The problem is the patients develop a tolerance for the pain, and the old behavior comes back.
That's why he had to use more powerful electrodes.
More pain to achieve the same results.
Have you read his résumé? Degrees and kudos by the bucketful.
Colter's post-doctoral thesis on aversion was called "a quantum leap in the treatment of autism.
" (SNICKERS) He has more than his pocketbook riding on this.
A true believer.
That just makes him more frightening.
Have the police pick him up.
Assault? Next you'll arrest my allergist for injecting me twice a month.
If he put you in four-point restraints and shocked you every 10 minutes, I'd consider it.
It's part of the therapy.
It's all State sanctioned.
They didn't sanction what we found at your clinic.
This boy was given shocks every 10 minutes on his torso with electrodes 20 times more powerful than the industry norm.
They're closer to cattle prods than anything used on humans.
You thumbed your nose at State guidelines, and one boy may very well be dead as a result.
That's nonsense.
I'm down in the trenches every day with those children, and some bureaucrat in Albany Alan.
You know better? Is that it? Is that why you continue to use this? Of course not.
What are you talking about? We found marks on Kevin Jeffries' neck, the same marks that Cathy Davidson got from wearing that helmet.
Kevin gave himself those injuries.
He was out of control.
You told his parents he was practically cured.
They misunderstood me.
Doctor, I don't know if you're a sadist or a conman or a fanatic.
Whatever your motives, your actions are criminal, not to mention indefensible.
You say they're criminal.
We say they're legitimate therapy.
Tomorrow we'll find out what a judge calls them.
Motion to dismiss.
ROTHENBERG: They called B.
F.
Skinner a genius.
Dr.
Colter's aversion therapy program is merely an extension of Skinner's stimulus response theories.
Skinner worked with pigeons.
Dr.
Colter was torturing human beings.
Medical treatment is often painful.
Cancer patients receive chemo.
I don't see Mr.
McCoy parading through Sloan-Kettering with an arrest warrant.
Wait a minute.
Chemotherapy is a far cry from assaulting someone with electrodes.
Think about it.
It's only assault if the patient doesn't consent or if Dr.
Colter intended to hurt them.
Or he was reckless.
These children have shown marked improvement.
Now, how reckless can he be? He's got a point, Mr.
McCoy.
JACK: The People don't concede there have been long-lasting improvements.
Regardless, Dr.
Colter broke every State regulation.
He crossed the line between therapy and abuse.
Your Honor, the only issue here is whether Dr.
Colter received parental consent for his therapy.
Informed consent.
Well, then, let's ask the parents whether they know what they consented to? It's a good idea.
I'll hear from them in the morning.
NANCY: Nobody, no State hospital, no doctor would have anything to do with Robbie.
Dr.
Colter was the only one who would take him.
He showed us how the electrodes worked.
It was very difficult watching Robbie in pain.
But it only lasted a couple of seconds, and then Robbie would calm down.
Did he explain how often the shocks would have to be administered? Yes.
He said sometimes as often as every 10 minutes.
Were you aware that violated the State guidelines? Yes.
But if it worked, I didn't care.
Three years ago the experts told us our son didn't belong in the education system.
One principal even called him "subhuman.
" Now Robbie works at a computer, thanks to Dr.
Colter.
GOLDEN: It's not like anything you've ever seen.
Kids pulling their hair out, their teeth.
You give my kid a pencil, he's gonna jab it into his cheek, for crying out loud.
Did Dr.
Colter tell you his therapy went beyond what the State allowed in frequency and intensity? What do they know? Is it better my kid become a drugged-out blob with open wounds? They got some chutzpah telling me what to do with my kid.
I'm his legal guardian.
I should be the one who decides what happens to him.
Thank you for coming in, Mr.
Golden.
Seems to me these parents went into this with their eyes wide open.
If the parents are satisfied with Dr.
Colter's work, then so am I.
The People are not, Your Honor.
The defendant made unauthorized use of this therapy in violation of State guidelines.
Which justifies an administrative hearing, not a criminal trial.
Now, the indictment for assault is quashed.
What do you expect? These are the '90s.
People don't want the State telling them how to raise their kids.
He's convinced these parents he's right, that his therapy actually works.
It didn't work for Kevin Jeffries.
The Jeffries kid, yeah.
The parents might've consented to Colter's therapy, but they can't consent to murder.
There's no murder without the helmet.
My bet is Colter took a sledgehammer to it the minute Kevin Jeffries death hit the news.
Jack, I may have found something.
That's the Davidsons' initial complaint in the suit about the buzzbox helmet.
There are 13 named defendants.
That's civil litigation.
You name everyone in sight.
Yeah, that's right, but take a look at the amended complaint.
There are only An occupational therapist, Josh Bingham, was dropped.
It could be because he had testimony that would bolster the plaintiff's case.
(WHISTLE BLOWING) All right, then, all right.
Don't push off.
I graduated from Columbia with a degree in psych.
That job was a nightmare.
I work for three months, then get named in a lawsuit.
You settled with the Davidsons early? Are you kidding? I agreed to testify for them.
I wrote a 23-page affidavit about what was going on at that clinic.
Let me tell you.
Colter? He'd make Dr.
Mengele proud.
You saw what was going on, but you continued to work there? Well, the first time I saw him use that buzzbox, I went right down to Colter's office.
He read me this long laundry list of his success stories, told me I'd get used to it.
I went right back down to my office, started looking at the "help wanted" ads.
Let me tell you, it's a good thing for those kids that the Davidsons came along.
Do you think Colter's still using the buzzbox helmet? What, and risk getting hit with another lawsuit? Actually, we think it killed one of his patients, Kevin Jeffries.
That's what we'd like to prove.
Maybe I know someone who can help you.
Francine Randazzo.
One of the therapy assistants.
She stayed on at the clinic after the Davidson thing.
Why would she talk to us now? She called me a couple of weeks ago looking for work.
She got laid off from the clinic.
After the Davidson lawsuit, they used the helmet less.
Only in extreme cases.
We weren't supposed to even talk about it.
Ms.
Randazzo, were you still working there when Kevin Jeffries was undergoing treatment? Yes.
It broke my heart.
He'd be like you and me for a couple of days, and then he'd totally freak out.
He'd start slamming his head against the wall.
When he started doing this, did Dr.
Colter use the buzzbox helmet on him? Yes.
Sometimes he'd strap Kevin in a chair for three or four days at a time.
With the helmet? That's right.
I couldn't even look at him.
He'd only let him out to go to the bathroom and take a shower.
Excuse me! Dr.
Colter is with a patient! Then, we're just in time.
WOMAN: You can't go in there! Come on, come on, hold him.
What's going on? This is private.
Not any more, it's not.
Alan Colter, you're under arrest for the murder of Kevin Jeffries.
You have the right to remain silent.
Anything you do say, can and will And this is your reliable witness? Oh, I'm sure Ms.
Randazzo is just dying to throw bouquets at the employer who laid her off.
Dr.
Colter gave her a job for the last two years.
He must think she's reliable.
What, and after three weeks of job interviews, she suddenly finds his methods abhorrent? She had the chance to speak up months ago.
Anything she says now is gonna smell a little ripe to a jury, don't you think? Not if it confirms what they hear from the medical examiner.
We no longer use the deprivation helmet.
Period.
Misguided as the State's decision was, we went along with it.
It's statements like that, Dr.
Colter, that make me wonder if you did.
ROTHENBERG: Then, don't take his word for it.
We have an eyewitness who'll testify that the helmet was never used on Kevin Jeffries.
His roommate, David Vilardi.
An autistic child? We're not talking about a potted plant, Mr.
McCoy.
According to this report, Kevin's roommate is mute.
He can still communicate with the help of a facilitator.
That's all fine and good, but how could he possibly know what you did to Kevin Jeffries? They were roommates in a very small institution.
How long do you think something like this could've been kept secret? Now, Mrs.
Vilardi is going to stabilize David's hand so that he can point accurately, but she's not going to guide his answers.
Mrs.
Vilardi.
Ask my son anything you want, Mr.
McCoy.
David, do you know why you're here today? "Yes.
" Did you ever see Kevin wearing a helmet? "Yes.
" (KEYBOARD CLICKING) "White" "helmet.
" You mean the white hockey helmet he wore for protection? "Yes.
" Did you ever see him wearing any other kind of helmet? "No.
" "Just the white" "helmet.
" Did he ever tell you that Dr.
Colter made him wear another kind of helmet? "No.
" Did he ever mention something called the buzzbox? "No.
" Are you absolutely sure he never mentioned it? "Yes.
" "Kevin only wore" "the white helmet," "not the red.
" I've read David's file.
He's been non-verbal all his life.
His IQ was measured at 30.
There's no record he's ever been taught to read or write.
All of a sudden he's typing on a computer.
Pretty neat trick.
DR.
OLIVET: There's an even better trick.
David's IQ was retested after he started communicating, and he scored between 100 and 130.
Which probably coincides with his mother's IQ.
She was holding his hands.
She was guiding his responses.
Well, you don't think this facilitated communication is for real.
It's been around since the mid-'70s, and it's still taught at universities, but by and large the scientific community does not support it.
That's the bottom line.
I'll move for a hearing.
If the technique isn't generally accepted, David's not qualified to be a witness.
JACK: Frye v.
US is very clear, Your Honor.
Until a scientific technique gains general acceptance, it can't be used in evidence.
General acceptance by whom? Neurologists? Speech pathologists? Special education teachers? These people can't even agree on what causes autism.
Two courts have already agreed that facilitated communication doesn't meet the standard for scientific evidence.
So, a couple of family court judges were guided by their prejudice against the disabled.
Mr.
Rothenberg.
That's what it boils down to, Your Honor.
People with disabilities are being denied their opportunity to be heard in court.
I just want to be sure the voice being heard is David Vilardi's.
Mr.
McCoy, making that determination is why I wear the robe.
I've heard the legal arguments.
Now I'd like to hear from some experts who know what they're talking about.
And I'd also like to hear from David himself.
I've worked with autistic children for the past 20 years.
I've read all the studies done on facilitated communication, and I've seen it used in the field.
I haven't seen anything I consider sufficient to say it's valid.
You don't think it works, Dr.
Chaikin? There's no proof of its reliability with autistic children.
In my opinion, the messages reflect the facilitator's coaching.
Are you saying that there's deception involved? DR.
CHAIKIN: No.
More like wishful thinking.
For parents, there's nothing better in the world than to have your child say, "I love you," and have a true sense of it.
Autistic children can't do that.
So, when something comes along that promises meaningful communication, parents and people who work with autistic children believe in it.
Thank you.
No more questions.
Dr.
Chaikin, does facilitated communication have its proponents? Yes.
So do Ouija boards.
Do you know of any university-affiliated institutions dedicated to the study of Ouija boards? No, I don't.
And are you familiar with the Facilitated Communication Institute at Syracuse University? Yes, I am.
No more questions.
I've seen the technique used successfully with the autistic, with people with Down syndrome, with cerebral palsy.
And do you consider the technique generally accepted by people in your field? It is gaining wider acceptance with teachers and parents.
It's being used in the schools.
Thousands of people have been trained as facilitators.
It's not the holy grail of autism, but it's very important.
Thank you.
Dr.
Gerard, are there empirical studies validating this technique that you're aware of? DR.
GERARD: No.
It's not like the law of gravity.
It can't be proven that way.
Are there established procedures for monitoring facilitators? None that are generally accepted.
Is it fair to say this technique is experimental? Well, the research isn't complete yet.
Thank you.
No more questions.
MRS.
VILARDI: The first word David typed was "water.
" He was thirsty.
That was five months ago, when David first started living at the clinic.
Since then we have regular conversations.
I found out my son has a sense of humor.
He likes girls.
He writes poetry.
He loves his family.
After all these years, I found my child.
Thank you.
No more questions.
Mrs.
Vilardi, I'd like to show something to David.
Go right ahead.
If you don't mind, would you look the other way? Your Honor? Mrs.
Vilardi, do as Mr.
McCoy asks.
David, please look at the card.
You can turn around, Mrs.
Vilardi.
David, please tell us what's on the card I just showed you.
Did he get it right? No.
I'm sorry.
No more questions.
He's just nervous.
Let him see it again.
Mr.
McCoy, show the witness the card one more time, please.
RIVERA: Mrs.
Vilardi.
David, look at the card.
David, tell us what's on the card.
RIVERA: All right, Mrs.
Vilardi, you're excused.
MRS.
VILARDI: This isn't fair.
David just doesn't understand what you want.
Mrs.
Vilardi, please.
You're not being fair! Dr.
Colter, please explain to them they're not giving him a chance.
Mrs.
Vilardi, please.
You're excused.
We just got a judge to tell Mrs.
Vilardi that she's been talking to herself for the last five months.
That doesn't exactly make me want to jump up and cheer.
Just a minute.
We didn't drag this boy into the spotlight.
Our good doctor did that.
Placing his interests ahead of his patients'.
I don't think his patients even figured in the equation.
None of which put us any closer to proving he used the helmet on Kevin Jeffries.
Anyone confirmed Ms.
Randazzo's testimony? We reinterviewed the employees.
They all say they didn't know.
Maybe somebody already told us what we need.
David Vilardi entered the clinic five months ago, after the State had already banned the use of the helmet.
We can assume neither he nor his mother ever saw it.
That's what they said in their deposition.
They also said that Kevin never wore the red helmet.
How would they know what color it is? Ask them.
Three people saw it on the television monitor.
We heard you say it.
Maybe one of the other kids told him it was red.
Mrs.
Vilardi, I don't wanna put your son through another ordeal.
Maybe I told him.
I can't remember.
How did you know? Have you seen the helmet? I saw a picture of it.
Where? You've seen it used, haven't you? I can compel your answer, Mrs.
Vilardi.
Yes, I've seen it.
On Kevin Jeffries? They use it on your son.
It works, Mr.
McCoy.
A boy died because he was forced to wear it.
My David is alive.
More alive than he's ever been.
Whatever harm that helmet might do, it's not as bad as what David did to himself.
He broke his fingers biting into them.
He spent weeks screaming and throwing himself on the ground.
Now he tells me he loves me.
I'll put her on the stand, Doctor.
She'll corroborate Francine Randazzo's testimony.
ROTHENBERG: I may be a little slow this morning, but I didn't hear you say that she saw Kevin Jeffries wear the helmet.
Your client authorized its continued use.
Which makes him criminally liable for any death that occurs as a result.
JACK: I don't need direct evidence to convict him.
He pleads nolo to man two.
He pays a fine.
He does community service.
He pleads guilty to man two.
He serves two years.
He turns in his license.
He closes the clinic.
You want to put me out of business, huh? We understand each other perfectly.
You may not like my methods, but they get results.
You beat a dog often enough, it'll stop barking.
It might even do tricks for you, but I wouldn't call that humane.
Don't you dare lecture me on what's humane.
I've seen the way people react to my patients.
They're repulsed.
These children are what nightmares are made of.
But I don't look away.
I make something of their broken lives.
You made sure Kevin Jeffries's life could never be fixed.
Can you really tell me he's not better off? I hope that's not your closing statement to the jury.
You'll never convince them he murdered that boy.
Watch me.
When I tell them how much money he made torturing these kids with electrodes, that he nearly killed the Davidson girl, he'll be lucky if they don't string him up in the courtroom.
The court is satisfied that the defendant has met the conditions of the plea agreement.
In accordance with that agreement, this court sentences Alan Colter to a term of not less than two years and not more than six years at a facility to be determined by the Department of Correction.
And this court is adjourned.
He still has them convinced he was saving their children.
The only thing he tried to save was his reputation.
He knew the therapy wasn't getting results.
Instead of admitting he was wrong, he just turned up the voltage.
MRS.
VILARDI: Mr.
McCoy.
You made them close the clinic.
Why? Mrs.
Vilardi They sent him home.
I can't take care of him.
I don't know what I'm going to do with him.
You took away the only place he had.
Do you want him, Mr.
McCoy? Can he go home with you now? I didn't think so.