Aug 29, 2006

Bad housekeeping not a criminal offense

But maybe it should be. Prosecutors charged Judith Scruggs with keeping such a messy house that it led to the suicide of her 12-year-old son, who hanged himself.
Witnesses testified that Daniel was punched, kicked and spat on in school and that he regularly skipped classes and even defecated in his clothes so he could be sent home.

The Scruggs home was opened up for jurors through photographs and witnesses’ accounts; investigators testified that clothes, household items and debris were piled throughout the house, and that there was no clear surface in the kitchen to eat or prepare food.

One police officer testified that the house smelled like a “dirty clothes hamper” and had “an odor of garbage.” In the closet where Daniel was found, the police found a spear and three long knives.
I went to elementary school with a girl who was filthy. Not filthy in a little-kid-rolls-around-in-dirt-and-can't-stay-clean way, like Pigpen from the Peanuts comic strip, but filthy as in unwashed. She perpetually had a dirty face. She smelled. I don't recall her being abused by classmates--though I wouldn't be surprised if she had been--but she was certainly ostracized. Her dirtiness acted like a barrier to keep people away. It was as effective as forcing her to wear a sign saying untouchable. I assume she went on to high school with the rest of us, but I don't recall ever seeing her there. But I think about her sometimes. I wonder what became of her. I also wonder whether she fared better than Daniel.

Via Ann Althouse.

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