It’s time again for another news round-up, and I wanted to start off by thanking everyone who sent in news stories this week. My usual searches didn’t yield too many results, but thanks to you guys, there are some great stories this week. Remember, you can always send me a link through e-mail or by clicking this link.
Today’s first story is one of tragedy and perseverance. Lilly Manning is a young woman who spent most of her childhood in a living hell. She spent years being brutally abused by her foster parents, all while child protective services did nothing to help. Today Lilly is thankfully out of that environment, and is coming forward to talk about what happened, and what she’s doing now to help her move forward. Just a heads up, the photos in the galleries include a lot of scars from cuts, which may be triggering to some people.
Lilly Manning was 15 when she escaped from a cramped closet in south Sacramento, after being stabbed and beaten and shoved into the darkness. This time, she said, she knew she would have to save herself.
Four different agencies visited the family at least 11 times on reports of suspected abuse or neglect in a five-year period but did not move to protect her or her siblings, according to confidential records obtained by The Bee. “They came, they looked, they left,” said Lilly, now 19, reflecting on the parade of visitors from law enforcement, Child Protective Services and the schools, some of whom she had secretly called. “We just gave up.”
Today, Lilly Manning lives with more than 100 scars etching her 5-foot-3 body, physical reminders of the hammer attacks, beatings, burns and strikes to the head with a 2-by-4 and a padlock swinging from a cord. By the time Lilly escaped from the 20-by-26-inch closet in October 2007, her body was so ravaged by torture and abuse that a seasoned sheriff’s detective described it with a single word: “Horror.”
Clues to that horror, and how they were missed by authorities, are sprinkled throughout the files of multiple agencies interacting with the troubled family.
The records reveal:
• Sacramento County CPS fielded seven emergency referrals regarding the family between 2002 and 2006. The agency determined all the allegations to be “unfounded” or “inconclusive” – until Lilly’s escape, when doctors detailed the head-to-toe physical scars and injuries.
• A Sacramento police officer observed scars on Lilly as far back as 2003, when she was 11, but CPS did not follow up on the officer’s referral. The county Sheriff’s Department responded to two 911 calls alleging abuse but – met with denials and discrepancies – closed the cases.
• A teacher at Hiram Johnson High School, noting scratches on Lilly’s face and arms, referred her to the school nurse in November 2006. The nurse and another school worker scheduled a home visit and were told by Manning-Horvath that her daughter, then 14, was scratched by the dog. Describing the home as “immaculate,” the school’s visitors did not file a formal report.
• A CPS worker didn’t believe the allegation of a “locked closet” because all the home’s closets had sliding double doors except one, which had no lock. Detectives would later find that Lilly’s dungeon was secured with a pole under the doorknob or a brace across the door.
The one agency that responded effectively to the distress signals was Diogenes Youth Services, a 24-hour crisis center for homeless and runaway teens. After Lilly’s escape on Oct. 31, 2007, she said, she hid in a backyard shed but called CPS from a nearby pay phone five days later.
Lilly said a CPS worker told her “there’s nothing we can do” and gave her the Diogenes number. A volunteer at Diogenes picked her up near Fruitridge Road and Stockton Boulevard and took the girl to a safe house.
The secrets came tumbling out. “We did exactly what we were supposed to do, which pleased me to the highest,” said Diogenes executive director Mike Martin. “We’ve handled a lot of difficult situations, but by far, this girl was in the worst shape we’ve ever seen.” Authorities swept in, and the rest of the children were taken into protective custody in the early morning hours of Nov. 6, 2007. The children would never go home again.
Lilly is leaving Sacramento this week to move to New York state to live with her 22-year-old sister, Natasha, who is in the Army. She plans to help care for Natasha’s 2-year-old daughter, and possibly enroll in online classes. She said she still wants an explanation for how she came to get her 100 scars. Last week, as a parting gift to herself, Lilly had a Sacramento tattoo shop finish the poem “Invictus” on her back.
Prosecutor Ho had framed the poem by William Ernest Henley and had given it to Lilly. It begins:
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
There’s a lot more to the story, but the key thing is that Lilly is free from her adoptive parents who are now in prison.
There are a couple more stories up ahead, so keep on reading to see the rest.
In England a trend is being noticed by National Health Services. Doctors are now referring patients to plastic surgeons for what they’re calling “Designer Vaginas“. The surgeons are upset because not only do they not want to perform the operations, but also a large number of the patients are under 18, some as young as 11.
GPs should not refer women who are well but worried for female genital cosmetic surgery on the NHS, say experts. Specialists at a Central London teaching hospital say they received 30 such referrals, mainly from family doctors, over the past three years. This included eight schoolgirls – one as young as 11 – the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology reports. Experts say doctors need clear guidance on how best to care for women who mistakenly believe they need surgery.
The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons says medics need to determine whether a problem exists or whether an alternative solution may be preferable, but offers no advice on how to judge the problem, say the researchers from University College London’s Women’s Health Institute.
They say it may be simpler to ban the procedure in the NHS altogether, leaving it to private practices. Some Primary Care Trusts do this. And private provider Bupa says the procedure is purely cosmetic and does not offer financial cover for the procedure. The NHS has no such restriction.
Dr Sarah Creighton and colleagues believe the future demand for so-called “designer vagina” operations or labial reductions is potentially infinite and is driven by society’s wider and growing desire for cosmetic surgery in general and changing expectations about what is a desirable appearance for women. “It’s shocking, particularly because we are seeing girls who are really young. They are asking for surgery that is irreversible and we do not know what the long-term risks of the procedure might be.” She said latest figures for England show about 2,000 of the procedures are paid for by the NHS each year. “That’s probably just the tip of the iceberg. It’s a massive boom industry in the private sector.” For the study, they reviewed all 33 women referred to their clinic between 2007 and 2010 with requests for a labial reduction.
Upon examination, all of the women were deemed to have “normal” genitalia by the doctors. But three were offered surgery to address “a significant asymmetry”. The remaining 30 were refused any procedure. All of the women were offered the options of sessions with a clinical psychologist to explore issues leading to their request for surgery. Twelve of the women said they would be seeking a second opinion and would consider going private to get the surgery if they still could not get it on the NHS.
What you have to remember is that the NHS is the government run healthcare in the UK. People can opt for additional private medical insurance on top of what they normally get. I can see the reasoning behind the NHS not paying for cosmetic surgery, but to think that these women have some psychological issue because they wish to modify their bodies is a little extreme. We’ve seen in North America what can happen to procedures that plastic surgeons refuse to do. Modification artists will step up, placing themselves in a dangerous position, which could possibly lead to criminal charges against them. It’s interesting to note that there’s no mention of male circumcision in the article. Does NHS cover that? It’s a procedure that’s strictly cosmetic, yet for some reason it isn’t frowned upon like labia reduction surgery is.
Over in Indonesia an airline is coming under fire for their hiring practices when it comes to flight attendants.
Applicants for cabin crew for Garuda Indonesia charged that they were asked to strip to their underwear and a male Indonesian doctor touched part of their breasts for implants. The airline’s office in Seoul said it is company policy for cabin crew to have no tattoos and breast implants.
Garuda spokesperson Pudjobroto denied local media reports that applicants stripped naked and their breasts were fondled. He said breast implants are health risks during a sharp drop of air pressure and the physical examination adhered to international standard and practice in the airline industry.
However, the Seoul-based Sexual Violence Relief Center called the practice unnecessary and intrusive. A spokesman for South Korea’s flag carrier Korean Air said the airline does not conduct such physical exams and called the Jakarta-based airline’s tests “bizarre.” The breast implant check, according to the spokesman, suggests that passengers with breast implant should not fly either.
Finally, with the earthquake that rocked Virginia and the eastern seaboard this week a number of people got to experience the ground shaking for the first time. One NYC resident went so far as to get a tattoo to commemorate it.
Customers of a Brooklyn tattoo shop are signing up to have “Survived the Quake” inked on their skin – even though the design was offered as a joke. Getting the black logo will hurt more than Tuesday’s tremor, which did little more in New York than rattle some nerves. In fact, tattoo shop owner Joe Khay was mocking all the amped-up angst about the quake when he made the design. “My whole shop was swaying back and forth,” said Khay, who owns Citizen Ink Studios in Sheepshead Bay. “We thought we were hung over or something.
Jonathan Berg, 21, had it inscribed on his waist. “It was just that people were freaking out,” said Berg, a Brenman’s Prime Meat Market employee who was sitting at home watching the YES Network when New York swayed. “It was just a minor thing, and people were making it into a serious subject. I thought that was pretty hilarious,” said the Gerritsen Beach man, who has 14 other tattoos. “I told my wife I’m going to get it, and she called me crazy,” Berg said.
I wonder if he’s going to get an Irene tattoo after this weekend.
All joking aside, all of us here at BME are watching the news closely, and we hope that everyone in the path of this hurricane is safe and secure and gets through it without a scratch. There are a lot of BME folk in NYC, so if you can get online after the storm, just check in and let someone know you’re alright.
That’s it for this week’s news. Again, stay safe this weekend, and we’ll see you back here Monday.