Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Hammer Drops: Ruth Burger's (Copley) Letter to Governor Mitch Daniels

Since I posted this series earlier today, there has been a heavy response to it.  Many people have now seen this story and have commented on the blog, as well as spoken to me personally.  Some have even spoken to the victim who was named in the series.  Her name in the series in Ruth Esther Copley, but her married name now is Ruth Burger.

She has been getting inquiries as to how her case is going due to her quick mention of the non-status in the Unfinished Justice post. Rather than answering each person individually, she has elected to post a letter she wrote to the Indiana Governor, Mitch Daniels in April 2012, detailing her case, inquiring of him to step in and do the right thing.  You will see, in the text of the letter that I have copied here, the legal shenanigans that have been going on behind the scenes.

This will put her case in perspective for everyone and maybe for Governor Mitch Daniels, who has not responded at all.

Thank you,

I. C.


*****

Ruth Burger
[Address Redacted]
[Email Address Redacted]
[Phone Number Redacted]

10 April 2012

Dear Governor Mitch Daniels,

My name is Ruth Burger.  I am a former Indiana resident and an Army Veteran of the Iraq War.  In March 2004, I was admitted to Community North Hospital for suicide prevention.  During my week-long stay, I informed the mental health staff of sexual abuse committed against me by my father.  I also reported minors living within the home.  In September of the same year, I was re-admitted for a two-week stay at Community North.  While there, I once again relayed my story of physical and sexual abuse.

After moving to Colorado in 2006, I suffered yet another mental health relapse.  Cedar Springs accepted me into their mental health facility for a week-long stay.

During my hospitalization, I once again shared my history.  This time, Cedar Springs mental health professionals contacted the Indiana Hamilton County Police and filed an official report on my behalf.

Upon release from Cedar Springs, I was instructed to participate in a video interview for Hamilton County.  House of Hope conducted the interview and forwarded the information back to Hamilton County Police.

I was never again contacted by Hamilton County and simply assumed my statute of limitations had run out. 

In January 2012, I was informed my statute of limitations had not expired; I have until I am thirty/thirty-one to press charges.  I immediately contacted Detective Lana Howard of the Hamilton PD and informed her I was interested in pursuing my case.

Detective Howard forwarded my information and details of my case to the District Attorney.  In mid-February 2012, she informed me the District Attorney has not only refused to prosecute, but has refused to further investigate my case.  She also informed me in August 2011, they [the police] destroyed my evidence and interview(s) due to “lack of interest.”  She said the investigation she conducted in 2006 included my video interview and an interview with each of my younger siblings.  It was these interviews that were destroyed by the Carmel Police.  To my knowledge, no one else has been questioned personally, including my older siblings, my mother, or me.

I have contacted the Indiana Coalition of Sexual Abuse.  ICSA is currently advocating on my behalf.  Nearly four weeks ago, I asked permission to speak with the District Attorney personally so I may hear his thoughts and express my concerns.  My request has been blatantly ignored.  ICSA has also requested to speak with the Hamilton District Attorney.  As of today, none of her emails or phone calls has been returned.

Governor Daniels, gross negligence has occurred regarding the reporting, investigation, and handling of evidence in my case.  I am appalled that Indiana would move to destroy evidence and interviews before the statute of limitations passed.  It is distressing to know that my right to justice has been so severely stymied from the day I first sought help.  It is completely unacceptable that Community North mental health counselors, doctors, nurses and other professionals fully abdicated their legal obligations to file and further protect other minors from my perpetrator. 

I feel Indiana has handled my case with carelessness, neglect, and disrespect.  Is this the message Indiana wants to pass on to every woman who finds the strength and courage to speak out about their abuse?  Why would Indiana destroy evidence prior to the statute of limitations being passed?  Is this how Indiana routinely handles sexual abuse cases?   How can Community North get away with gross negligence regarding the handling and obligatory reporting of sexual abuse with full knowledge of minors still living within the home?  How many more patients have passed through Community North with unreported abuse?

Please encourage the Hamilton County District Attorney to re-open and conduct a thorough investigation into my claims.  Because my perpetrator has moved himself into a position of authority as a religious leader and counselor within Indiana, I strongly urge you to take action on my part.  He is a danger to society, a danger to the community, and a danger to every child he comes into contact with.

I eagerly look forward and expect to hear from you in the immediate future.

Sincerely,

Ruth Burger

10 comments:

  1. I am in awe of your perseverance, Ruth. Thankyou on behalf of all abused children. Even if nothing is done by the authorities, good will still come of it.

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  2. Contact the media and keep contacting the media until somebody takes this story and exposes what is going on in Indiana. Indiana seems to have a higher than normal amount of fundamentalists, and they are probably on the police force and in the courts too which is a problem. Be loud, be very loud, until someone pays attention. Do it for yourself.

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  3. Also try the U.S. Department of Justice, and perhaps the FBI too.

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  4. This absolutely needs to go to the same person in the News Media that handled Tina Anderson's case for 20/20 -- Anderson Cooper would probably love to get his hands on your story.

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    1. Word has it, the IFB Abuse series was a ratings hit, thus Anderson Cooper moved on to more sensational material.

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  5. I'm pretty confused about the medical community's purported lack of reporting on the experience of Ruth. Both my father and sister are in the medical field and if they failed to report on sexual abuse, they could be legally prosecuted. For every one of the medical staff in all the categories listed in the letter to have neglected their duty seems very unlikely.

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    1. Have you ever been in side of the mental health system? They aren't perfect. In fact, some of them are downright nasty and totally oblivious to reality. Medical staff are people too and just because your family is ethical doesn't mean others are.

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    2. Ruth Copley BurgerJune 13, 2012 at 11:13 AM

      Anonymous: I am very confused too. That's why I sent the letter and I'm pushing hard for an answer. It "seems" unlikely, but after talking with the Indiana Coalition of Sexual Abuse (I am NOT the first person but under privacy, they can't tell me "who" this has also happened too.) and reading stories like Hephzibah House, it's not so unlikely anymore.

      One person explained the legal system to me this way: The legal system doesn't work for or even really answer to the "people." It works for the government. If the government doesn't want something pursued, then you're out of luck. Unless you manage to pitch a big fit and find someone willing to advocate with you.

      I am not pushing for prosecution at this time. I am pushing for an INVESTIGATION, maybe even TWO of them. One investigation into the system of Indiana and one into my case personally. Since I have never conducted an interview directly with Indiana Police, then how can they say my case is cannot be prosecuted? If they don't speak to the VICTIM, then they cannot claim my case was properly investigated, period. The DA cannot say, "Oh, the video evidence was destroyed. No, I never saw the tape personally but I already 'know' an investigation won't turn anything up."

      Basically, you can't claim an investigation if you haven't spoken to the victim. You can't say a case can't go to court if it hasn't been looked into thoroughly. You can't destroy evidence then claim there is nothing left to follow-up on. You can't claim there are no other witnesses if you haven't even asked. How can they destroy evidence before the statute of limitations expires?

      If they can't prosecute, okay. But I want an answer and an explanation rather than complete silence from them. If Indiana is ignoring ICASA's emails and phone calls, then I have to wonder, what is Indiana trying to hide? I can't help but feel a victim twice over. Once by my dad and once by Indiana's refusal to take my case seriously. Every victim within the statutes of the law provided who makes allegations of sexual abuse DESERVES the RIGHT to an investigation. If I had called and claimed someone was murdered they'd investigate it thoroughly, right? Why should a molestation allegation be treated differently? I would think a pedophile walking the streets would be just as dangerous as leaving a murderer walking free. They both are known to strike again and again until caught.

      I know some people have contacted the media, but I don't know what to do. I haven't been contacted by any, so I think they're ignoring it unless I can push this case somehow some other way into the public eye.

      Thank you all to have posted, commented, offered support, and passed my story along! The only way to get this looked at is by YOUR input and push, so THANK YOU!!!

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    3. Ruth, again I am disgusted, horrified and so sorry for all you have gone through and are facing. I am a follower of Christ & I know many others would disagree with me, but I would contact Ellen Degeneres as she is all about rights and protecting children and animals. I know it sounds silly, but talk about someone who has connections and could do something in a big way....just a thought. Lmk what you think. A.R.

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  6. Or even better than Ellen (bc her show is mostly for laughing - & informing). Write Dr. Phil. Now, I bet he would respond. A.R.

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