The Lost Child - A voice for those unable to speak for themselves

My 6-page declaration
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When the State of Texas agreed to conduct an investigation into my case, they also asked that I give them an idea of what had happened to me. Below you will read exactly what I gave to the State. 

Carolyn Ann MacKenney

Declaration

 

After being abandoned with several siblings by my biological parents at a junkyard in San Antonio Texas in the mid-1960’s, I was sent to what was formerly known as the “Mexican Orphanage,” now known as the Methodist Children’s Home. I stayed at this facility for over a year. I was finally adopted on 23 January 1969 on my 7th birthday by George Edward MacKenney III and Mayree Mylee Mund MacKenney. My biological sister Wendy was adopted by Mayree MacKenney’s sister Nola and George McCloud of San Antonio. Shortly after moving in with the MacKenney’s, their demeanor toward me changed dramatically. I suddenly was at the brunt of their severe physical; mental and sexual abuse. The MacKenney’s had four older boys, who seemed to be the source of much of the abuse. During a visit to Nola McCloud’s home to visit my sister; George McCloud sexually molested my sister and I (claiming that no one would believe me since we came from trash). My parents beat me severely when I told them about this molestation.  My adopted parents would often tie me to the bed in my room so that I couldn’t play with other kids; even feeding me this way. On one occasion, while I was playing “Cowboy’s and Indian’s with my brother Fred, he took a pen and stabbed me right between the eyes, hitting a chicken pox area I had. I have this scar remaining even today. Mayree beat me severely for this incident. At the clubhouse near our home in a Houston suburb called “Greenwood Forest,” my brother Fred attempted to drown me in the clubhouse pool. Afterwards, my mother beat me so severely, I was rendered unconscious.  My brothers would all come in my room, and then each take turns punching me in the face. On one occasion, as I walked up the stairs to my room, I said something under my breath toward my mother, and suddenly at the top of the stairs, my father stood. He struck me directly in the forehead with his fist, forcing me to fall down the stairs. At the bottom of the stairs, my mother was waiting for me, and beat me severely; to include a black eye, busted lip; knots on my head, and bruises on my arms and legs.  The boys would also enter my room, then take me to the closet, order me to disrobe, and demand that I sit on their laps, with their genitals exposed. If I were to refuse, they would threaten to sodomize me. All of this abuse continued until a school counselor noticed bruises on me and contacted the MacKenney’s. This simple act resulted in my being taken to a Juvenile Detention Facility in Harris County Texas, where my parent’s looked at me and said “We’re washing our hands of you, and giving you back to the state. After spending the night in this dreadful place, with dozens of criminals (I felt like I was the one being punished) in spite of having never committed any crime; I was taken to the Harris County Juvenile Court, where the presiding judge removed my custody from the MacKenney’s, thereby labeling me a “Ward of the State of Texas.” When asked by the judge,  I heard that my parent’s just continued to say “She’s bad, she’s bad.” I was then returned to the Detention Center where I would live for the next 12 to 14 months; only leaving briefly to experience unsuccessful foster care, then return. After living in the detention center like a convict, I was then loaded into a CPS car with a small sack-lunch; a small suitcase with clothes they (CPS) had bought for me and two CPS workers. We traveled a long distance and finally ended up at Coastal Bend Youth City in Driscoll Texas which seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. The Youth City Director, Mr. J. B. Moore signed some documentation from the CPS workers and took me from them. Mr. Moore also took my case files from the CPS workers. I just sat there having nothing explained to me. Even Mr. Moore did not welcome me officially. I was finally met by one of the “House-Parents” Ms. Thornberry, who was in charge of “Cottage One.” She escorted me to the cottage where I was met by approximately 15 other girls (some older, some younger). As soon as Ms. Thornberry showed me where I would be sleeping; then turned to walk out; the older girls began to violently beat me, ripped open my bag, and took virtually all of my meager belongings the CPS workers had purchased for me. As I lay there bleeding from my nose and mouth from the savage beating I had just received; I clearly remember wondering what exactly I had done to deserve this. From day one at Youth City, this type of behavior was common-place. Every single day at Youth City was a struggle for survival; not only from the other kids, but from Youth City Staff members as well; most of whom had no relevant educational background to hold the positions they did. Many of the staff members resorted to the only form of discipline they knew; which was to physically abuse me through virtually any means necessary, which included physical restraints; being held down by a male staff member, when I initially refused to participate in the removal of asbestos from a building we kids were demolishing. The male staff member was a former child resident of Youth City named Julio, who ultimately became a “House-Parent” himself. This occurred in 1973. Julio married another former Youth City resident named Sylvia Sales. When Julio came of age, he was allowed to become a house parent, in spite of having no formal education. Even the Director of Youth City J. B. Moore used archaic methods of discipline, and would often rip off his belt and swing it violently, with the buckle facing outward, and beat me all over my body, often times resulting in my ending up incapacitated or bed-ridden for several days. One of the older boys at Youth City; Richard Lopez would grab my buttocks and my breasts virtually every time he walked past me, in full view of numerous house-parents, then laugh and brag about it. I was one of only a few white girls at Youth City; and one of the only children who was a “Ward of the State.” All of the other children had parents who visited them almost monthly. I had no visits from any family for the duration of my stay. Youth City made it a point to never place calendars around the children, so specific dates of specific events are difficult to remember. After being initially allowed to attend Bishop Elementary School, I was restricted to the compound from there on out. There were no phones in the cottages, and other phones were kept from the kids. So contact with the outside world was impossible for me. During the summer of 1974, one of the older girls (huge and 6 foot plus tall) from another cottage (with whom I had previously had an argument with regarding her attempts to convert my sexuality to homosexual – her preference) came in to our cottage carrying an empty toilet paper roll stuffed with wadded-up toilet paper. She also had a can of deodorant, and several of the other girls there held me down while the older girl sprayed the deodorant into the roll, and held it over my nose and mouth; forcing me to inhale the mist inside. Within a few seconds I was unconscious. When I woke up; I was on my back on the floor, completely naked, with a variety of kids (old and young) staring at me from all around the room, even from outside the now-opened windows. All of the kids were laughing at me loudly and pointing at me. My vagina and anus were extremely sore, and covered with a clear slimy substance. The older girl who had made me inhale the substance yelled at me saying “Now you’re a Cum-Dumpster.” I have no idea whether someone violated me or not, but from the way I looked and felt at the time, I was positive someone had done something to me. Shortly after that incident, several threats were made against me, and I quickly and painfully learned not to snitch or tattle. The older girl, who had done this to me, was kicked out of Youth City after only three months, as she was almost 18 years old already. One of the House-Parent assistants Ms. Mary Lou Garza was the primary source of much of the abuse I suffered during my time at Youth City. She threw me over furniture; onto the floors; hit me with brooms and mops; before she left Youth City eventually to join the Army (allegedly). After all of the injuries and wounds I suffered while at Youth City, never once was I treated by the resident nurse at Youth City. My house-parent (Ms. Ida Mustain) stated to me numerous times, that Mrs. Moore (the Director’s wife) took most, if not all of the drugs for her own recreational use. Through all of the years of my time at Youth City, I was never once provided even a jacket or coat to wear during the winter months, in spite of the fact that the State of Texas was paying for my care at Youth City. During meal-times at Youth City, I almost always found rodent excrement or insect parts mixed in the food. If I said something I was hit on the head and told to shut up.  The kids at Youth City were not all your regular run-of-the-mill children. Several of them were severely mentally challenged. One of the boys was at Youth City for treatment because he was caught having sex with domestic animals such as dogs and cats. He was allowed to interact with all of the other children at Youth City regularly. On my 11th birthday, as I was finishing my home-schooling, all of the kids from the entire cottages were instructed by Ms. Mustain to give me 11 birthday smacks. It wasn’t my actual birth date, but close. As the kids stepped off the bus, each kid whipped me hard; 11 times each, to include Ms. Mustain. I was knocked to the ground and remember yelling and crying for them to stop, but they continued. This event rendered my buttocks black and blue for the next few weeks. This event may be the reason I despise birthday parties, or any references to birthdays. Ms. Mustain often used her own brand of Youth City discipline, by forcing me to dig grave-like pits to bury her cigarette butts in. This was all done in 100-plus degree South Texas heat. After an altercation which involved my climbing the water tower, J. B. Moore decided that my punishment would be to kneel in the dining room hallway. The floor was covered with salt, and I was forced to kneel in this course material for over an hour; even to the point that I urinated myself.  I remained grounded to the compound a majority of my time at Youth City. When it came time for parents to come visit other children, such as Christmas and New Years day, I was left behind and placed on work details to keep me away from the front of the compound. Older boys from the other cottages would sneak into our cottage at night, to have sex with the older girls. We all learned to keep quiet, or get beaten. On one occasion, I was awakened violently, but couldn’t see anything, as something was being held over my eyes, and I felt someone’s hand on my throat. I also felt someone’s full weight on top of me, and a voice of a man saying “Don’t make a sound or I’ll break your neck.” I felt a hand feeling for the waistband of my underwear, then pulling them down. He used his knees to force my legs open, and suddenly violated me. It only lasted a minute or two, and as he lifted himself from on top of me, and released his grip from my throat, he said to keep quiet and don’t look, or else. He must have snuck back out the window. There were several boys still in the cottage with other girls, so I never had a chance to see who it was. The other girls were doing this willingly, I was not. The following night, I decided to run away, and snuck out of the compound, going to a fellow resident Kelly Minium’s sister’s house in Bishop Texas. I turned myself back in to Youth City a week later, and the Director J. B. Moore beat me severely again for my running away. He also made me visit with the Kleberg County Judge; Judge W. C. McDaniels since I was a “Ward of the State.” One of the counselors at Youth City David Carlton took me to Judge McDaniel’s office, and we met the judge in the hallway. Mr. Carlton then left us. The judge escorted me downstairs, and walked me into a make-shift office, and closed the door behind us. I remember seeing police officers coming out of the office across the hall. He began asking me why I felt the need to run away, so I tried to explain what had happened. He asked me if I hadn’t asked for the sexual encounter, to which I adamantly said “NO.” The Judge’s demeanor changed, as he started undoing his belt and trousers; letting them slide down, and exposing his genitals toward my face (I was still seated). The judge then said you are going to do this (motioning for me to open my mouth), and you’re not going to say anything to anyone, or I’ll make sure you end up in the State Home for children, a far worse place than Youth City.” I was shocked to see the judge talk and act like this, and was essentially petrified. So I did as he said out of fear. He said that he was to be thought of as God since I was a “Ward of the State,” and that he made decisions that cost people their lives. After this event, he arranged himself, and opened the door, escorted me back upstairs, and told me to wait in the hallway again, and not to say a word. After a few minutes, Mr. David Carlton returned and escorted me back to Youth City. On the way back to Youth City, Mr. Carlton asked me what the judge and I had discussed. I was still petrified about the judge’s comments, and his actions, and kept quiet. Several months later, Youth City decided that they would actively try to find a new adoptive family for me. The first family they selected for me was a Hispanic family (whose name I do not remember). The husband immediately tried to mess with me sexually, once the wife left to run some errands. I asked to be taken back to Youth City immediately, to which the wife had a puzzled look on her face, but reluctantly agreed to take me back. The second family who took me out was the Castillo’s. Yolanda and Rico Castillo both had previous experience with Youth City and agreed to take me on for a weekend. They were merely doing a favor for Youth City, and had no plans to adopt me. The third and final couple was Jack and Donna Harris of Corpus Christi. Jack worked at the Corpus Christi Caller Times newspaper, and Donna worked as an apartment complex manager on Ocean Drive (where they lived).  After two or three weekend visits, Youth City agreed to allow me to live with the Harris’ for three months, even letting them enroll me in school. At the end of the three months, I was suddenly returned to Youth City. When I asked what went wrong, my house-parent (Ms. Ida Mustain) told me that Mrs. Donna Harris didn’t want me around. All of this devastated me. I was determined to ask the Harris’ what had happened, so I ran away once again, showing up at the Harris’s apartment. Jack Harris was home at the time, and explained that his wife was jealous of me, and had demanded that the arrangement be terminated. Jack took me back to Youth City and dropped me off. Another girl from Youth City who had run away with me, headed for Houston when she left. I discovered from my house-parent that the girl had interacted briefly with a well-known pimp, and that she had been beaten so badly, she was unrecognizable. I have since learned that she must now have full-time care in a residential setting. Once Youth City discovered that I had run away again, and that I was upset because Jack and Donna Harris no longer wanted to adopt me; I was forced to go see Judge McDaniels again. Mr. Carlton took me back to the judge’s office. Once again the judge escorted me back downstairs into the make-shift office. He scolded me briefly, and threatened to send me to the State home again. He was beginning to unbutton his pants again, when I protested adamantly, and threatened to tell his sick wife just exactly what he had done to me. I also demanded that I not be sent to a State home, or I would tell anyone who would listen; newspapers; reporters; police…anyone. The judge stopped unbuttoning his pants; and re-arranged himself. He stood silent for a moment, and then said “Don’t run away again Carolyn, or else.” He then opened the door and escorted me back to his office upstairs. Mr. Carlton showed up and escorted me back to Youth City. I was rather happy with what had transpired, but kept completely quiet. As it neared 1976, no other couples indicated the willingness to take me out for the weekend. I was kept on many work details. All of the able bodied children at Youth City participated in these work details. They ranged from working in local farmer’s cotton fields 12 hours per day, to trash pickup details on South Padre Island.  The Director of Youth City J. B. Moore started individual trust funds for each of the kids who participated in these work details; including me. Kids were instructed that they had to finish a certain number of cotton rows before they could have any water. I found myself severely dehydrated on numerous occasions. By mid-1976 I had pretty much given up any hope of ever finding a family that wanted me. One day in early July 1976, I had just come in from a work detail, hoping to jump in a cool shower, but my house-parent Ms. Ida Mustain sat me down with an extremely discouraged look on her face, and stated that my parents were in the front office. She told me to go to the office to meet them. I headed for the office and saw my parents sitting in J. B. Moore’s office talking to him. It had been over six years since I had last seen them. They looked up at me and said that they were going to take me out for three weeks, then return me. Mr. Moore instructed me to go pack some things to take with me. I headed back to my cottage where I found Ms. Mustain. She was adamant and saying that this was illegal; how could J. B. Moore just let me go back to the very same people I had been removed from? Ms. Mustain gave me the phone number to Youth City, should I get into any trouble. She also said she would make sure the rest of my things were mailed to me.  I left with the MacKenney’s that day, extremely scared. As the MacKenney’s pulled out of Youth City heading home, with me in their car; my mother said “We took a family vote to see if it would be alright for you to come home.” I remember telling Ms. Mustain before I left, “I don’t want to go anywhere with them (the MacKenney’s). During my three weeks with the MacKenney’s, I elaborated in detail, just exactly what I had endured during my time at Youth City, including the beatings; the abuse; the work details and even the episodes with Judge McDaniels. At the end of the three weeks, when we were supposed to return to Youth City, I accidentally overheard a phone conversation between the Youth City Director J. B. Moore and my father. Mr. Moore was yelling at my father to return me to Youth City at once; and my father threatened Mr. Moore with a lawsuit about the abuse and trauma I had suffered at Youth City; including Judge McDaniel’s. There were no further conversations between the MacKenney’s and Youth City after that. I tried to adjust to being back home; but all of the kids were now in their late teens. The boys almost immediately began spying on me while I showered; to which I would tell my mother. Her response was “boys will be boys.” She didn’t think there was anything wrong with this. I was only with the MacKenney’s for a few months before things became unbearable once again. This culminated with my father pulling a gun on me, and threatening to kill me. I decided it was time for me to leave. I left their home at age 15 and hitchhiked to Tomball Texas with a pillowcase of my clothes. I met a nice young man at a local Laundromat, and he offered to let me live with him and his father. I realized that I needed to get into school once again, so I called my father and asked that he sign for me to attend Klein High School;  he agreed, I enrolled into the 9th grade in the 1977 school year after the school conducted an evaluation of my approximate grade level. During my 11th grade school year, I wound up pregnant. My mother somehow found out about this, and contacted me offering to pay for my pregnancy and the birth of my child, and being without any health insurance, I agreed. After the birth of my child (George Edward MacKenney IV) my mother offered to watch my baby for the weekend so I could relax. That weekend, my child developed flu-like symptoms, and my parents took him to the hospital (Texas Children’s). They did not tell me this right away. I did not discover that my child was hospitalized until I called their home and spoke to my grandfather Bill Mund. He told me where my child was, so I headed to Texas Children’s Hospital and asked to see my son. The hospital staff stated that the child’s parents were already with him, and demanded to know who I was. After raising a commotion, my mother discovered I was at the hospital and found me. She told me to hush first, and then proceeded to tell me that they had to pretend that they were my son’s parents, in order to have him covered by their insurance for the medical emergency, and that if I wanted my son to live, I needed to leave. She stated that she would stay in contact with me regarding my son’s condition. Two weeks later, a Sheriff’s Deputy arrived where I was living and served me with a subpoena to appear in a Fort Bend County courthouse on charges that I had abandoned my child to my parents (the MacKenney’s). Most of the classes I was in at Klein High School were resource classes, and the reality was, I was extremely uneducated. I made it to the courthouse on time and saw my parents and their attorney in the courtroom. The judge asked me a few legal questions (which I did not understand), and suddenly my parent’s had custody of my son. I was given visitation, according to the judge, but I also had a restraining order against me at the same time. I was devastated and couldn’t believe what had just happened. I had no attorney; no representation; no one looking out for my best interest. I was able to successfully visit my son once; then by the time for the second visitation, my parents had moved, and I was unable to locate them. Ultimately I left the area and returned to the only place I was familiar with; Coastal Bend Youth City; Kingsville Texas and Corpus Christi Texas. I found a former resident of Youth City Kelly Minium, and moved in with her. I took a job at a local bar, bartending, and as soon as I could went to the Free Legal Aid office in Kingsville. There was a four year waiting list, but I put my name on it anyway. I even visited a local Kingsville attorney named Sammy Fugate, whom I knew was close friends of Judge McDaniels, and asked for his help. He stated that it would take a ton of money to fight the MacKenney’s. Of course, I had no money. I decided to call Judge McDaniels reluctantly. I told him what had happened with my son, and he stated that it would have never happened if the case was in his court. I also told him I was thinking of writing a book about all of the things that had happened to me. He asked that I wait until he was dead to include him in this book. He said that he was sorry for what he had done to me. I married Dr. Tommy Sosbee in July of 1986. He immediately hired a Houston attorney Travis Thompson, to activate my visitation once again. He discovered that the MacKenney’s had successfully adopted my son in 1983, and that there was nothing more he could do. I have since heard from my mother’s sister (Nola Thurmond) that my parents had brain-washed my son over the years to hate me, claiming that I didn’t care for him, and that I abandoned him . I then began contacting Youth City to inquire where my trust fund was, along with my records. The current staff at Youth City informed that all of my records had been taken to the dump and burned. Ms. Mustain told me that she had seen the staff do this. The new Youth City director Mr. Ron Rossi claimed that the former director J. B. Moore’s son had absconded with most of the children’s trust funds. Some of the kids did get their trust funds. My husband was in the US Army, and we were forced to travel with him. I tried unsuccessfully over the years to contact CPS officials; Juvenile Court officials and TYC officials to find my records, and to tell me what had happened. These agencies personnel either spoke little English, or were in a hurry to get me off the phone. I quickly realized that none of these agencies were going to help me. Finally in mid-2004, Ms. Brenda Lee, an RCCL Specialist from the State of Texas called me while we were stationed in Egypt. She asked if I would be willing to provide testimony regarding my time spent at Youth City. I agreed. In late 2006, Coastal Bend Youth City closed its doors forever; closing a painful chapter of my life with it. With the help of my husband, we wrote a book titled “Can They Hear Me Crying?” We’ve also since created a website dedicated to helping others like me called www.thelostchild.org. It has been visited over 10,000 times already, and it was only created last February 2008. From the junkyard I came, to become a semi-adjusted member of society; to marrying the man of my dreams; bearing three beautiful well-adjusted children; has been an extreme challenge. It seems as though every agency I contacted along the way refused to assist me…me, a former “Ward of the State of Texas” who should have been protected by the State; taken care of by the State; not abused by the State. I remain traumatized by what happened to me. I am uncertain if I will ever be “normal” again. The scars I got from the State of Texas will be with me for the rest of my life. The scars I got from the MacKenney’s should have been seen by someone; and the MacKenney’s should never have been allowed to adopt another child after me, but they did…they adopted my son. Only the Good Lord knows what abuse my son may have suffered at their hands too. Additionally, it was only through my husband’s undying love for me that this declaration was written. Former “Ward’s of the State” such as me, who received little to no education while in State custody, should be offered free legal assistance so that we can have a legal professional ensure that our best interests are sought. To date, there is no evidence at any State, District or County level that I ever committed any crime; yet I was treated as such from day one by the very entity whose job it was to care for me. Even criminals are presumed innocent until proven guilty. I was never given this presumption.  Additionally, my aunt (Ms. Nola Thurmond) has always instigated discourse between the MacKenney’s and me. She knew of the abuse I suffered at the MacKenney’s hand’s and her husband’s hands, but did nothing to report it. If questioned, she will most likely defend her sister to no end; in spite of knowing full well what her sister did to me. For me, Youth City was a nightmare, and in spite of it, I had greater fear of the MacKenney’s, than I did of Youth City. No court in the State of Texas granted them custody of me, or gave them permission to take me out of Youth City. Their actions went unchecked by the State of Texas. Even the money the State paid for my care as a ward was never recovered from the MacKenney’s.  It’s as if they were related to the President of the United States or something, or had diplomatic immunity. The State’s mere reluctance to prosecute them is a clear indication of someone protecting them. I can only hope and pray that the State will finally do something about this travesty, and correct a terrible wrong. The very way a person is supposed to obtain assistance from the State of Texas is more user friendly for the State Staff than it is for the simple person needing the help. The State needs to provide for follow up on the numerous “wards of the State” that are or were ward’s due to no fault of their own, and who have committed no crimes. When I started my journey through the system, I saw nothing but trash around me, so I made a promise to God to keep the faith, and never give up.

Created with all of my heart and soul. 

Can They Hear Me Crying? (c) 2016-17 Carolyn Whitbeck

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