Your honor the Mayor, City Commissioners, Mr. City Manager, Madam Clerk, ladies and gentlemen:
I’m Nicholas Alahverdian and I am honored to appear before our dynamic mayor and distinguished commissioners once again. I would, for the last time, like to address the events of 1915. From the bottom of my heart, I want to express my gratitude for the proclamation of April 24, 2015 as “Armenian Centennial Remembrance Day”.
Over the past week, I have had the opportunity to reflect, pray, and ponder. My thoughts and prayers have been with those that were slaughtered, killed, or orphaned.
During my previous two visits before this honorable commission and your honor the mayor, I appeared here as an impassioned and unlikely descendant of the survivors of this blood-curdling nightmare.
But now, after much reflection and contemplation, I have come to the conclusion that now – more than ever – we must be cognizant of America’s democratic legacy.
By virtue of April 24th being called, “Centennial Remembrance Day”, I have learned a valuable lesson that I feel is worthy to be shared.
Our democratic legacy is at risk more than ever. We see equality of Americans at more risk than ever. Deplorable organizations like ISIS and al-qaeda threaten our safety. They threaten our freedom. They threaten our liberty. And we must defend our liberty.
We must not feed the fire of war
That is why we must not feed the fire of war. We must not dwell on the obsession of evil and exacting revenge – but we must insist on defending the future – starting with our families and our neighborhoods – our communities and our churches – and we start right here, in our great city.
It is even seen on is on the great seal of the United States- The eagle holds an olive branch – symbolic of peace – and arrows – symbolic of protection and defense. Which way does the eagle’s head face?
Towards the talons clasping the olive branches. But we have our arrows for times of need.
The Founding Fathers built a strong democratic legacy – a legacy can never forget.
A legacy that leaves with us a great experiment that we see in action – here – right at this very moment.
From small beginnings, great things come to pass. We declared our independence in a bold fashion.
We formed a Constitution.
We waved the banner of freedom – and those colors of liberty stand as a testament to all those blessed to live in this country.
And this freedom – this liberty – does not apply just to those born here. All women and men are created equal.
Our dynamism is what emboldens us
Whether we are citizens of this nation by birth, whether our ancestors braved the waters of the Atlantic on the Mayflower, or whether we just moved to this week – a city known around the globe for dynamism and innovation – last week, we are all Americans.
And that, from what I can perceive, is what embodies this city – that is what emboldens us, with unique community initiatives right here in our own city.
We are immigrants. We are citizens by birth. We are here to let our dreams come to pass – but above all – we are Americans.
America is still that great experiment.
We are still defending the right to govern ourselves. We are still kindling the flame of the freedom born in the hearts of our founding fathers.
We are creating new beginnings every day. Kenyans, Japanese, Chinese, German, Turkish, Armenian, Greek, Irish, Italian – and too many more to name – we are creating new beginnings.
We are welcoming more and more people to participate in the greatest demonstration of democracy that the world has ever seen – and that flame in our hearts will never be extinguished.
Yes there have been wars. Yes there has been blood shed.
But we move forward. And we stand united to progress in an age to prosper.
And what better place to do that than our great city?
Welcome them here, to our great inheritance. Welcome them here to build a new life, to make a new opportunity for their families.
No matter our heritage, no matter our religious conviction, no matter our nationality – we are – above all – Americans.
And it is in the American spirit that I wish to express gratitude for Armenian Centennial Remembrance Day. We warn those who threaten our democracy – they understand us perfectly. We try to reach out and understand – but no, they understand us perfectly.
We will not stand for intolerance, invasion, or ethnocentrism. They are anarchists – that is the role that they are determined to play and so it is our duty to play ours – the Americans that stop the anarchists.
To all else, we say remember this: you are welcome here.Welcome to America.
Let us celebrate that great spirit of freedom right here. No more wars. No more. Let’s make this place the home of those who harness the power of peace and say to all of our brothers and sisters: Welcome to our great city.
About Nicholas Alahverdian
Nicholas Alahverdian is a Harvard-educated scholar and political activist. As an adolescent, Nicholas survived torture and abuse inflicted upon him by the Rhode Island government under the direct orders of a chief judge and a governor following his political activism against them while Alahverdian was an employee of the Rhode Island House of Representatives.
Nicholas was sent to two facilities far from New England that had extensive records of torture, abuse, and negligence. He was forced to remain in these abusive facilities until his 18th birthday and was not allowed to contact anyone, go to school, or prepare for adulthood. Alahverdian survived the torture, sued his abusers, settled in court, and studied at Harvard University.
The primary scholarly focus of Nicholas Alahverdian is the intersection of philology, rhetoric, and politics. He has been featured in The Providence Journal, NPR, BBC, NBC, CBS, and ABC News as well as The Buddy Cianci Show, The Boston Globe and countless other media entities.
Following a meeting with the Governor’s Office, Nicholas Alahverdian will hold a brief press conference on Friday, April 8, 2011 at 3 p.m. at the State House Rotunda to discuss the details of his federal lawsuit against DCYF and take questions about his experiences of abuse and negligence, substantiated by state and federal authorities (see links to news stories), in Rhode Island, Nebraska, and Florida group homes and treatment facilities.
Nicholas Alahverdian was exiled from the State of Rhode Island by the Department of Children, Youth and Families after illuminating the deficiencies at facilities monitored by them to legislators of the Rhode Island General Assembly. At the time, he was an employee of the Rhode Island House of Representatives. When Nicholas was exiled, he began to be tortured in both facilities which had long records of violence and maltreatment against patients, with both facilities undergoing significant state investigations with courts issuing grand jury indictments and orders to halt admissions. Nevertheless, Alahverdian was banished to these facilities.
Nicholas Alahverdian was sent to one facility in Nebraska, the Boys Town Residential Treatment Center; and one in Florida, Manatee Palms Youth Services (owned by Premier Behavioral Solutions, a subsidiary of the nationally troubled Psychiatric Solutions, recently purchased by Universal Health Services). Both were shut down by their respective state regulatory agencies for violations of federal and state regulations, including abuse and negligence.
In Florida, Nicholas Alahverdian was raped by a staff member who admitted to the crime and was later imprisoned (see attached documents). Also, the for-profit Florida facility has been shut down in recent years for hiring convicted felons and retaining them, not providing sufficient staff, and hiring abusive people, most of whom were directly out of high school.
Alahverdian will also discuss legislation going before the House Judiciary Committee on April 12, 2011 to end out-of-state placements and enhance the Rhode Island Children’s Bill of Rights, sponsored by Rep. Michael Marcello and Rep. Bob DaSilva. There will be a large rally on Tuesday the 12th at 3 p.m. (press advisory to be sent later today/Monday) before the bills go before the House Judiciary Committee at the rise of the House (typically around 4:30).
WHO: NexusGovernment, Nicholas Alahverdian
WHAT: Press Conference on lawsuit, DCYF reform legislation
Earlier this month, in a remarkable demonstration of accountability, the Penn State Board of Trustees dismissed a member of the coaching staff who committed sexual assault upon a child, as well as his colleagues who assisted in the subsequent coverup. Perhaps the most exalted figure in college football, head coach Joe Paterno, was ousted as a result of his failure to report the rape, which allegedly occurred in March of 2002.
Americans have long worshiped idols crafted of the Paterno personality. The fall of one of America’s great athletic icons angered many fans and students. However, this signified deliberate action taken by a nationally recognized university to attempt to right the wrongs of a dishonorable collegiate athletic administration.
Child abuse is, unfortunately, not a rare occurrence. However, because the abuse and subsequent coverup was perpetrated by individuals employed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the swift, conscious firings were imperative and justified. The abuse became international news overnight, which begs this question: is a public discussion of abuse and coverup by state employees only required when a nationally-ranked football team is involved?
In 2002, I was in the care and custody of the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families. At the same time, I was working at the Rhode Island House of Representatives as a legislative aide. I had daily contact with then-Speaker John Harwood, and many other representatives and senators. I also had daily contact with employees of group homes and shelters that assaulted and tortured me on a daily basis. I believe that working for the State of Rhode Island and simultaneously being in the care of the State is unprecedented in Rhode Island history.
As legislators listened to the horrors that plagued my existence on a daily basis, they began to interrogate the Department. State Rep. Brian Coogan went to the chambers of Family Court Chief Judge Jeremiah S. Jeremiah and volunteered to adopt me. Rep. Joanne Giannini pressured Department heads to allow me to be placed in a safe placement. Unfortunately, day after day, I was in the night-to-night program, life on the road, a purely jumbled existence, with no real home, being transferred from shelter to shelter and several public schools a week, and nightly beatings and even rapes from fellow foster children and the employees hired to take care of us. When Donald L. Carcieri was campaigning for Governor in 2001, I even confided to him the assaults, which he did not report.
So let’s see if I’ve got this straight: a coach on a state football team rich with legacy and tradition takes in foster children and is found to be raping them in his spare time. Penn State’s Board of Trustees steps in, takes action, the responsible individuals are prosecuted, an interim president is appointed, and the Governor apologizes to the family involved. I, and many other youth who grew up in state care, could only wish for such leadership.
When I decided to temporarily pause my studies in literature and go public in February 2011 with the abuse and negligence that I suffered until 2005 when I turned 18, I expected at the very least an apology. Perhaps a “we could have done better.” Ideally, Governor Chafee would endorse my proposed legislation that would enhance the children’s bill of rights and prohibit the shipment of children out of state if there was an appropriate placement in state. But none of that happened. Chafee didn’t meet with me, 2 or 3 committee members would be present at hearings, and the Rhode Island Attorney General is defending those (in a civil lawsuit) guilty of abuse instead of prosecuting them.
Furthermore, I was considered a burden to the legislative process that I had once seen as my only hope. Speaker Fox, the man who hired me even before he was Chair of the Finance Committee, never met with me. Rarely was I asked by representatives or senators what my experiences were. I was shutdown at a committee hearing by the chair for speaking for more than ten minutes, and my bills never made it out of committee. My decision to publicly expose the wrongs I suffered in order to right the future was largely ignored. Most discouraging, the Rhode Island Attorney General hasn’t even launched a criminal investigation into my suffering. Now, as a Harvard undergraduate, I pour my energy into scholarship, yet there is a ubiquitous, nagging feeling of dismay and distrust in a system that failed me and hundreds of other children.
In stark contrast to the current course of action taken by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Penn State Board of Trustees, the arrogant and provincial legislative, judicial, and executive bodies of Rhode Island government have turned a deaf ear to abuse that occurred a decade ago. The Penn State abuse scandal has proven that even the greatest of charming figures, athletic or political, can be held responsible. If only Rhode Island would be so courageous to take action and lead by example. Let us not be ungovernable.
Nicholas Alahverdian is a Harvard scholar with a primary research focus on the intersection of philology, rhetoric, and politics.
As Nicholas Alahverdian and I talked, he took in the view of the Rhode Island State House from The Journal cafeteria.
“You don’t know how much I love going in that building,” he says.
He loves the excitement of it, the reporters and the politicians. He’s been part of it. He’s worked for his state representative. He’s testified at hearings.
He wants to be a politician. And a lawyer. And a journalist.
Don’t bet against him hitting the career trifecta. He’s already been tested in ways few of us will ever know.
“I don’t think I’ve been harmed at all,” he says. “I think it’s all part of a plan that’s been assigned to me for upcoming events.”
He talks about the dark, uncertain part of his life as “boot camp.” It has taught him things and prepared him.
He’s 15, smart and articulate and almost painfully polite. He introduces himself with a handshake. He even said it was an honor to meet some of the people here at The Journal. He reads the newspaper. When he opens his backpack, a copy of David McCulloch’s biography of John Adams is the first thing he takes out.
He speaks from the other side of a lot of hard, cold statistics. He’s a kid caught in a cruel social shuffle that has left him with a heavy load of uncertainty when he desperately needs something solid and reliable.
His insistence on being all that he can be is remarkable.
After we talked Thursday afternoon, he headed for the bus stop and a ride to his latest group home in Providence.
At a time when he should have no concerns more pressing than homework and maybe the girl who sits two rows over in his Spanish class, he is forced to live his life in bits and pieces, never knowing how long he will be living or going to school in the same place.
There was a point in Nicholas Alahverdian’s nomadic life, when the Rhode Island social service system put him in a foster home in North Smithfield. It was probably the best experience he’s had, the closest he’s come to his ideal of home and family.
“I can’t tell you how loving this family was – how they accepted me into their home. They were so caring.”
He stayed there for two days. That’s all he was scheduled for. Then he went home to his real family for the Christmas holidays at the end of 1999.
Then he returned to a shelter in Woonsocket.
“It was decent for someone my age,” he says of the shelter. “There were caring people there. There were activities set up for us each night.”
As we talk, Nicholas Alahverdian sorts through a stack of notes he’s taken on his life so far. There are also copies of school grades and newspaper stories I wrote about his stepfather, a popular local performer.
It is amazing how matter-of-fact he is about it, as if every 15-year-old goes through this kind of jolting, disjointed life in which faceless people are making the calls on where he will live and where he will learn. He sorts through his papers, tells his stories and provides a stunning personal voice for all the stories about kids in Rhode Island who get moved around like pieces on a real-life board game.
Nicholas Alahverdian has been in night-to-night placement under the Department of Children Youth and Families (DCYF). It is often little more than a couch to sleep on for the night, followed by a day of wondering where the next couch will be.
“It’s scary ridiculously scary,” he says. “There are punks in there, they took my sneakers, my clothing. I was threatened, assaulted. I saw kids hit each other with hockey sticks.
“You wake up in the morning at 5:30 and you go the DCYF building and wait to see where you’re going to go the next night.
“You’re not in school and I love school. You’re not associating with friends. You’re not treated decently. And how can your parents know where you are?”
In one sense, he knows it has to be this way. In another, he rails against the injustice of it and the self-defeating madness of dumping kids in often strange and frightening places.
The list of his stops on what seems a journey with no real destination is daunting. It winds through Coventry, Woonsocket, North Providence, Cranston, Providence, Narragansett and points in between. He has been to a bunch of schools, some of which insulted his intelligence with course work and materials geared to children 5 or 6 years younger. He remembers being assigned the book The Pokey Little Puppy when it seemed like something from his distant past.
Nicholas Alahverdian once addressed the Cranston School Committee on how he felt he was being unfairly judged on his past in his classroom assignment.
Now, he is attending Hope High School where he’s on the debate team. He’s living in a group home in Providence which he considers one of the better ones he’s been in.
“It’s like a challenge at Hope,” he says, “a challenge to help yourself learn.”
And through it all, he remains this delightful survivor who seems to have held on to a real sense of who he is and what he wants to be, despite the efforts of the state of Rhode Island to keep him forever on the move.
There is a great temptation to listen to his story and thoroughly enjoy his company and then ask him something like “How the hell have you gotten through all this with so much hope and determination?”
We’ll hear from him somewhere down the road. He says all that training he received in his own personal “boot camp” has gotten him ready. It’s gotten him ready for war.
“It’s a war with people who are trying to destroy kids’ lives,” says my new friend Nicholas Alahverdian.
The Pope, in an unprecedented move, has identified the Armenian Genocide as ‘the first of the 20th Century’
The leader of the world’s Catholics has used the term “genocide” during a Mass commemorating the Armenian Genocide at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican to describe the mass killing of over 1 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks
VATICAN CITY — During the month that marks the centennial of the slaughter of over 1 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turkish Empire, Pope Francis exhorted global leaders to join him in acknowledging what he termed the ‘first genocide in the 20th century.’ Locally, Nicholas Alahverdian worked with an American city that has a history of severe Armenian Genocide denial to acquire a proclamation from that city’s Office of the Mayor.
The Holy Father’s remarks came during a Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, where many children wore traditional Armenian clothing as Armenian music and hymns were performed throughout the somber service, the altar surrounded by incense.
The words of the global leader of the Roman Catholic Church will almost certainly infuriate Turkey and its prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Conservative estimates found that 1.5 million Armenians were massacred by the Ottoman Turks beginning in 1915, and is widely viewed as the first genocide of the 20th century by scholars.
The daring statements from the Pope, who embraced the Armenian community since his days as a priest in Argentina, scoffed at mincing words. He declared that it was an obligation to respect the souls of murdered men, women, children, and clergy killed by the Ottoman Turks.
Nicholas Alahverdian’s Response
Nicholas Alahverdian, a descendent of survivors of the Armenian Genocide, applauded the Pope’s declaration. “This is a monumental moment and one that will ring in both church and world history,” Alahverdian said. “We are blessed in this day and age to have a Pope that finally recognizes the gravity of the travesties that occurred so long ago.”
The Republic of Turkey asserts that the death toll is exaggerated and should not be characterized as a genocide. Its ambassador to the Holy See, Mehmet Paçacı, scrapped a scheduled Sunday press conference after the embassy learned of the nature of the Holy See’s position and the papal remarks.
Phones at the Embassy were disconnected. No official statement has yet been provided by the government in Turkey’s capital, Ankara.
The Turkish government has actively advocated against the Vatican and numerous other governments and legislative bodies from officially designating the over 1 million murders of Armenians as a genocide.
“Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it.”
Francis’ homily prompted Aram I, the leader of the Armenian Apostolic Church, to thank the Holy Father for his frank assertion that “genocide” is a crime against humanity which necessitates reparation.
The Global Response
Many European nations have acknowledged the legitimacy of the Armenian Genocide. The United States Congress and the President, however, have avoided designating the massacre as a genocide because of its military and diplomatic relations with Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country. Similarly, the Vatican has also been cautious at times, but expressed relief with specific official actions. Recently, for example, Turkish leaders demanded that clerics denounce the killings of Christians by ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
“International law spells out clearly that condemnation, recognition and reparation of a genocide are closely interconnected.”
-Aram I, Leader of the Armenian Apostolic Church
Francis’ predecessor, Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, did not acknowledge the genocide during his papacy.
The context of Francis’ pronunciation was significant: he uttered the words during an Armenian rite Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica marking the 100th anniversary of the slaughter, alongside the Armenian Catholic patriarch, Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, Armenian Christian church leaders and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, who sat in a place of honor in the basilica.
The Pope also spoke of other atrocities that followed the Armenian Genocide, such as the Holocaust and mass killings in nations such as Bosnia and Cambodia.
Also at Sunday’s Mass honoring the centenary of the genocide, Pope Francis recognized one Armenian in particular – 10th-century cleric St. Gregory of Narek. An honor which only 35 people in history have received, St. Gregory was named by the Holy Father as a doctor of the church. The designation is given to writers that have served the universal church in a significant way.
For Ulrich B. Phillips, the importance of the essence of the south is introduced in his essay “The Central Theme of Southern History” by describing characteristics of the region that do not meet his qualifications of what can serve as its essence. One by one, he itemizes each failing attribute, beginning with state rights, and goes on until he reaches the penultimate characteristic, that of the cotton industry, according to Southern Literary Renaissance scholar Nicholas Alahverdian.
Various examples are conveyed to the reader as to why each characteristic fails to qualify as the essence of the south, and we are abruptly introduced to Phillips’s mawkish declaration that the essence of the south is to ensure “that it shall be and remain a white man’s country.” Nicholas Alahverdian states that beyond the threshold of white supremacy is the enslavement and segregation of African-Americans, a fact that Phillips nearly promotes.
Segregation as a legal requirement
In the 20th century, several states abided by the practice of segregation as a legal requirement. In other words, it was illegal to not be racist. Nicholas Alahverdian indicated that rooted in the fiery and passionate southern identity was an inherent exclusivity that transcended multiple generations.
When slavery became illegal at the conclusion of the Civil War, the south adopted segregation as a means by which they could control the participation of African-Americans running the gamut of the elements of the southern lifestyle – such as the economy, democracy, and social institutions. Nicholas Alahverdian points out that unfortunately and devastatingly, even though African-Americans were no longer property, they were still excluded human beings.
Richard Wright details the economic and social disparities in the 20th century south in “Inheritors of Slavery”, most poignantly with the repetition of the phrase “Lords of the Land.” As opposed to remaining in slavery and bondage, African-Americans were liberated yet elevated to being subservient to those who were legally required to free them, resulting in what can be characterized as a cyclical enslavement with variable social and economic restrictions. “The economic and political power of the South is not held in our hands,” he says. “We do not own banks, iron and steel mills, railroads, office buildings, ships, wharves, or power plants.”
Phillips’s list of elements of southern life, those being state rights, free trade, slavery, democracy, and the industrial foundation, which he characterized as not being the essence of the south, amount to an essence formed out of all of those factors.
Ulrich Phillips even attempts to claim that “masters had less antipathy to negroes” and “were in a sort of partnership with their slaves.” His failure to recognize the unjust and unethical enslavement of individuals in a nation based on freedom and independence is startling.
Wright exhibits the absence of a “partnership” by detailing the “steady impact of the plantation system upon [their] lives” which “created new types of behavior and new patterns of psychological reaction,” hardly the foundation upon which a partnership can be established.
Alahverdian, Nicholas “Ulrich Phillips.” Harvard University Essay. 2009.
Phillips, Ulrich B. “The Central Theme of Southern History.” American Historical Review. 34 (October 1928): 30-43.
Wright, Richard. “Inheritors of Slavery.” Ed. Jon Meacham. New York: Random House: 2001. 13-32.
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, I’d like to thank you for this opportunity to discuss this important legislation that will furnish to the honorable House of Representatives of the State of Rhode Island crucial oversight of the agency that is charged with protecting our state’s most vulnerable children, the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families.
I want to begin my brief remarks by paying tribute to the DCYF social workers, who, in the face of being overburdened with excessive cases and long hours, have acted with incredible strength and determination. My message to them: this legislation will compel the Department to treat you more fairly, give you the resources that you need to protect children, and keep alive the dreams of those you honorably serve.
Meanwhile, even as we speak, children are victimized in DCYF group homes, foster homes, and shelters. Not unlike the exportation of commodities, children, like products, are exiled to for- profit, out-of-state facilities that have extensive histories of abuse and neglect.
This brief story of mine is just one of many, however, I would ask that this honorable committee consider it among the hundreds of horror stories that we have all heard over the years. It actually began happily in 2002 in the grand chamber just outside this room. I was merely a high school freshman, working for the honorable House of Representatives as a page, hired first by Sen. Lanzi while she honorably served in the House, and then in 2003 by Speaker Gordon D. Fox, who was Chairman of the House Finance Committee at the time. Needless to say, my mother was not as excited as I, most aptly characterized by the fact that she refused to purchase the blue blazer required for all pages, and instead, decided to purchase a case of white Zinfandel to cater to her alcoholism. In the end, it was a state rep who graciously provided to me the blazer.
Yet I involved myself in DCYF because I had finally come to the determination that my mother was inept, negligent, manipulative, and not unlike a bad role model. In short, she could no longer provide the necessary parental care.
This decision later led to my devastating detriment. In the care of the department, one abusive situation morphed into several thousand spanning nearly three years. I was placed in numerous shelters in DCYF’s night-to-night program. Often, I was not provided with meals due to the lack of communication between shelter employees and DCYF staff concerning the allocation of responsibilities.
I spent my days here at the state house and my nights fighting for a bed, looking for food, trying to make sure my belongings weren’t stolen. Most of all, I had to fear constant physical assaults and dangerous situations. The bruises, lacerations, and other visible injuries were noticed by concerned members of the honorable chamber to my left. There were many breathtakingly compassionate acts of kindness by representatives of that honorable chamber who refused to see me go hungry, who refused to let the bruises and cuts from the abuse go unnoticed, and who refused to let my voice be unheard. These representatives were my lifeline, and to them, I am eternally indebted.
As I tendered my resignation as an employee of the RI House of Representatives nearly a decade ago, at the age of 15, I began to lobby for fair treatment for individuals in state care. The media attention, calls from the legislators, and pressure from the Office of the Child Advocate all motivated DCYF to rid themselves of a publicity threat. I engaged in hostile conflicts with DCYF administration due to violations of basic constitutional rights, the inability to remain in one school district, the constant beatings inflicted upon me and corroborated by medical records, the humiliating practice of night-to-night placement, and the discouragement of civic participation. The department is fundamentally flawed, not only for the reasons heretofore stated, but for the children that have died in their care, for the assaults, beatings, and rapes that continue to this very day, and for the inability of the department to provide a free and appropriate education in accordance with state law.
Additionally, It is truly tragic to think that an employee of DCYF would sit in the sanctified office of the majority whip and attempt to illicitly coerce a state official to admonish a young legislative aide that his presence at the state house is unwelcome and his advocacy for DCYF reform is hindering the agency’s ability to provide an appropriate placement free of abuse and negligence. They may have won battles early on, but the war is still waging.
Consequently, I was sent to two different states and placed in inappropriately restrictive facilities where contact with the outside world was prohibited and the infrastructure and mentality of the population was tantamount to a maximum security prison. Staff and youth formed rival gangs. I was beaten nearly every hour of every day. A staff person admitted to raping me in Florida.
Both facilities were closed by their states before and after my placement in those facilities for the rampant abuse and negligence that ensued on a daily basis. And, of most concern to the taxpayer, the State of RI expended over a quarter of a million dollars on this corrupt, for-profit corporation that cut staff and services, increased the population, reaped in the profits, and sipped martinis and watched the sun rise as the children they were responsible for wept from the pain of the punch and the constant, piercing screaming that ensued as a result of the unmanageable population juxtaposed with assaultive, unprofessional, ill-equipped staff.
Furthermore, each request to communicate with the outside world was denied. Contact was prohibited even with lawfully entitled agencies with whom children are always guaranteed contact: the Office of the Child Advocate, the Court Appointed Special Advocate, law enforcement, and the Courts.
According to court records, DCYF and the RI Family Court were aware that the abuse was ensuing in both Nebraska and Florida and they left me there, even after my social worker demanded that I be removed from this corner of the earth comparable only to my nightmarish imagined description of hell’s hottest fire.
In the face of seemingly innumerable decades of the State’s condemnation, DCYF has monotonously issued trumped-up news releases, exaggerated plans, and arbitrary reports, but no amount of bureaucratic paperwork that this entity can issue will stop the horrific abuse and negligence that kids experience at the hands of unqualified, untrained employees, many of whom have criminal records.
DCYF has proven that they consistently fail to manage themselves and that theirs is a fundamentally flawed department. DCYF’s past four directors have not been innovative at all. DCYF has unceasingly demonstrated its inability to keep kids safe. I will never, ever be able to experience childhood or adolescence; and the same goes for countless of Rhode Island citizens. Today, I stand strong. I am a student at Harvard University. I have started an effective non-profit advocacy organization. My hope is that each and every child will be able to have the same chance for self-determined success. This legislation is conducive to ensuring that same chance of success for every young Rhode Islander.
As a young and zealous high school student, I walked through the halls of the Rhode Island State House. I saw passionate lawmakers and fervent activists push for what they believed in. I saw heated debates and ceremonies of recognition. I have now returned to the State House nearly a decade later, where the impassioned debate continues. There are new issues and new leaders. But one issue still remains, and we can unanimously agree that it must be addressed – child abuse. This is the year that it stops. NexusGovernment is on the front lines in the battle against child abuse and neglect.
Over the past few weeks, I have spoken with many Rhode Islanders. They have told me about raising their children in poverty. They have told me about losing their jobs and not being able to take care of their families. They speak of witnessing youth in DCYF care being deprived of education, suffering hunger, and lacking medical care. They feel helpless when they hear of children being abused by careless, untrained employees. I’ve heard the cries for justice, and I’ve seen the tears fall for the terror they witness. We need your support to confront these misdeeds and save these kids.I grew up in Rhode Island, where our motto, “hope,” is engrained in our state flag. We have never lost that hope since Roger Williams first established this great state in 1636 after being banished by the Massachusetts Bay Colonists.
As a young man, I saw resilient Rhode Islanders every day. Rhode Islanders who faced hardship and poverty. I know many Rhode Islanders are feeling that way today. I know that feeling; I lived it. We know that our children deserve an education because they are dreamers. They have a bright future. We need to tackle those who abuse our most vulnerable children with the taxpayer dollar in hand. We need to encourage their dreams and aspirations. These children have never asked for more than to not be abused. Almost a decade ago, I fought relentlessly against those who were willing to sit back and let the abuse and neglect run its course.
Now, I have returned. This time, I have your support. Rhode Islanders have never lost hope. We have proved that hope is always necessary to get us through every fight. We will take back our state – and our children. This is our state. Roger Williams created it and the responsibility is ours to kindle the flame of hope that drove him to establish this marvelous home of ours. Together we can prevent that flame from being extinguished – and extend that hope to every child in our great, resilient state. We will stand courageously to protect our children. I promise you wholeheartedly that should this legislation pass, together, we will give them hope.
HEARING ON H5855 – CREATING THE RHODE ISLAND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES EMERGENCY OVERSIGHT COMMISSION ON THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN, YOUTH, AND FAMILIES given by Nicholas Alahverdian on March 30, 2011 at the Rhode Island State House, Providence, Rhode Island.
Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian files this Supplemental Brief in response to Defendant’s Responses to Plaintiff’s Objection.
For reasons set forth in detail below, Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian submits this supplemental brief to demonstrate that several new arguments were raised by Defendants by the Defendants in support of their initial Motion to Dismiss. The Defendant’s Reply Briefs also contain several factual misrepresentations relating to the Plaintiff.
II. STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS AND ACCRUAL
Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian was in the custody of the Defendant DCYF from 2002 through 2005. However, Plaintiff remained within the scope of services of DCYF in that he received funds under the John. H. Chafee Foster Care Independence and Educational and Training Voucher Program until December of 2010. Defendants Michael S. Burk and Jorge Garcia administrated the funds of these programs.
Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian hereby represents that assaults, abuse and negligence was perpetrated from 2002 through December of 2010. Defendants continued their tortious and assaultive conduct unabated upon Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian up to and including December 2010. Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian asserts that this Court should consider the continuing violations doctrine, which tolls the statute of limitations in situations where a continuing pattern forms due to discriminatory acts occurring over a period of time, as long as at least one incident of discrimination occurred within the limitations period.
Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian believes that the situation involving DCYF agents visiting the home deserves further anatomical description. Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian married [[name redacted]] in November 2010. [[Name redacted]] has a child from a previous relationship, who was 15 months at the time of their marriage. Upon the marriage of the Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian and [[name redacted]], they decided that the minor child, who was living with [[name redacted]]’s mother and stepfather in South Kingstown, would be living with the newlyweds at home. Unfortunately, [[name redacted]]’s mother and stepfather became jealous, irrational, and threatened Plaintiff and [[name redacted]] that they would call Defendant DCYF to report “abuse and neglect.”
Plaintiff and [[name redacted]] had their lives threatened by [[name redacted]]’s stepfather, who has a lengthy criminal record of assault and battery upon multiple persons, including [[name redacted]]’s mother. Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian and [[name redacted]] requested a restraining order against [[name redacted]]’s stepfather, which was denied by the Rhode Island Family Court. Days later, Defendant agents from Defendant DCYF appeared at Plaintiff’s home, where the Plaintiff was watching the minor child. The agents were DCYF child protective investigators Bridget Crooke and Jennifer Silva, two agents who Plaintiff knew from 2003.
Immediately upon seeing Crooke and Silva, Plaintiff suffered flashbacks and painful memories of the last time he saw Crooke and Silva. Following the publication of Bob Kerr’s 2002 Providence Journal article where Kerr mentions two foster parents, namely [[names redacted]], where Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian was placed for a short time from 2002–2003, they indicated that they would be willing to be the foster parents for the Plaintiff again. Plaintiff, then an employee of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, arranged for the [[name redacted]] to be honored with a citation and an introduction to the House of Representatives for their service to the State of Rhode Island as foster parents.
Shortly following the honor by Representative Aubin in the House of Representatives Chamber, Crooke and Silva appeared at Plaintiff’s high school to apprise him of the foster family’s inability to care for him. The visit in 2010 triggered the Plaintiff’s painful memories of specific instances of abuse and negligence from 2002–2005. Plaintiff at the Rhode Island Plaintiff was at the [[name redacted]] home for approximately two weeks and saw his family situation destroyed, after his biological family was destroyed. Following Crooke and Silva’s visit, he realized that the his new family was at risk of being destroyed.
Crooke and Silva waited for Plaintiff’s wife to return home while Plaintiff remained in a state of shock and fear. Plaintiff’s wife returned, and Crooke and Silva informed Plaintiff and wife that the Plaintiff was not being investigated yet there were allegations that [[name redacted]] was “smoking pot and living out of her car.” Obviously, that wasn’t the case. However, Crooke and Silva immediately requested a letter from the Plaintiff’s physicians outlining his “current state of mental health” and whether “[[Plaintiff was]] able to adequately care for a child.” Crooke and Silva had no objectively legal reason to ask for the confidential medical documents. Further, they determined that the minor child was not at risk, nor did they have to remove the child when they saw that the home was safe.
Plaintiff was discriminated against (violating RIGL 42–112–1) when state agents asked for confidential medical information from the Plaintiff even though he was not under investigation, nor did he give investigators any cause to request said information. Plaintiff believes and hereby alleges that Defendants are under civil liability for discrimination against disability under RIGL 42–112–2.
Furthermore, Defendants caused Plaintiff to be in fear for his life, continued to harass him upon receipt of his physician’s approval, intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon Plaintiff and his wife, assigned state cars to conduct surveillance outside Plaintiff’s home and activities, and exhibited conduct consisting of misjudgment, invasion of privacy, discrimination, and a deliberate conspiracy to disrupt Plaintiff’s life.
Plaintiff was under such pressure and tension that he began to have daily flashbacks and nightmares, and an eventual loss of consortium with his wife. Defendant DCYF even encouraged [[name redacted]] to get a restraining order against Plaintiff, which was granted by the Family Court, lest she have her child removed from her custody.
Plaintiff began to recover memories that were repressed or lost because of a combination of post-traumatic stress disorder and toxic levels of Thorazine proscribed by Defendant’s contractors from 2003 to 2005, in violation of the freedom from restraint act. Upon the visit of Crooke and Silva, Plaintiff began to be able to connect the dots from 2002 until 2010.
In December 2010, Plaintiff had another experience that caused him to recover further memories when he saw Defendant Ellen Balasco at a restaurant in Narragansett with her husband. Defendant, who did not recognize Plaintiff, began to recall in the days to come that Defendant Balasco refused to file litigation based on the torture he was experiencing. Defendant Balasco was responsible for filing litigation regarding causes of action that occurred until 2007 when he was released from State care.
Unfortunately, Plaintiff already repressed the memories of abuse and neglect until 2010 when he saw her again. Plaintiff asserts that he continuously asked Defendant Balasco to file suit against perpetrators of abuse from 2002 until 2005, but she repeatedly refused to do so, thus resulting in the gradual repression or loss of memories of abusive or negligent incidents, yet the unsubstantiated theme of abuse remained.
Plaintiff experienced incidents that represented a continuing course of conduct constituting a breach of duty, such that the limitations period does not begin to run, or is tolled, until that conduct terminates, which, in the instant case, was December 2010 (and can also be considered to be continuing based on the loss of consortium and the disruption and dismantling of his family).
The abuse and negligence suffered by the Plaintiff transcended many years and across state lines (the Nebraska Supreme Court has held that the application of a discovery rule is determined by focusing on when the discovery of the injury occurs and not on when the injured party recognizes whose conduct is responsible for the injury), even when a letter recommending in-home services was written by a contractor of Defendant DCYF.
The claims presented in the Plaintiff’s complaint are not stale because of the continued involvement with the department and the continuing abuse and negligence by Defendants Michael S. Burk, Garcia, Aucoin, and others. The statute of limitations was tolled because of fraudulent concealment of a conspiracy and prejudice, as well as the Plaintiff’s repressed memories that came roaring back upon the onset of worsened PTSD. Plaintiff realized that the causes of his many injuries in November of 2010, and also recognized that the defendants caused the injuries.
Defendants gained an advantage by wrongfully concealing his injuries, plaintiff was not aware of his injuries until after the statute of limitations had run. When plaintiff discovered the recovered memories, plaintiff established that the concealment of fraud was of such character as to prevent inquiry, or to elude investigation, or to mislead the plaintiff claiming the cause of action. Defendants concealed acts, breaches of duty, and engaged in wrongful conduct which caused plaintiff to repress memories of the abuse, thereby preventing discovery of the cause of action within the statutory period. Plaintiff suffered emotional distress and a mental breakdown following the events of November 2010.
In Treanor v. MCI, the justices ruled that:
“The MHRA’s statute of limitations may be avoided by a legal theory known as the continuing violations doctrine. See Giuliani v. Stuart Corp., 512 N.W.2d 589, 595 (Minn.Ct.App. 1994). This doctrine tolls the statute of limitations in situations where a continuing pattern forms due to discriminatory acts occurring over a period of time, as long as at least one incident of discrimination occurred within the limitations period. See id. The doctrine is available when “the unlawful employment practice manifests itself over time, rather than as a series of discrete acts.” Id. (internal quotations omitted). This manifestation, however, must be more than the mere consequences of past discrimination — “the proper focus is upon the time of the discriminatory acts, not upon the time at which the consequences of the acts became most painful.” Sigurdson v. Isanti County, 448 N.W.2d 62, 67 (Minn. 574*5741989).”
Thus, because DCYF and co-defendants committed a series of illegal and discriminatory acts against Plaintiff, the period of limitation may begin to run from the last act of the series. In short, actions from 2005 through 2010 when DCYF’s acts of harassment and emotional abuse following the initial call to the DCYF abuse hotline [[name redacted]]’s mother, and other acts including the unjustified request for letters from medical professionals vouching for his ability to take care of a baby, continuing to harass and emotionally abuse Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian even after the letters were received, not disbursing funds to the school of Plaintiff’s choice (Harvard University), the verbal abuse from DCYF administrators, etc. all amounted to continuing, unending acts that exhibited a continuity of purpose. It should also be noted that in Gillette v. Tucker, the court held that the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the relationship of physician-patient (professional and client) is terminated. Interpreting that through the lens of this case, the relationship with DCYF ended in August 2010 when the educational funding — controlled by Defendant Mike Burk — was last disbursed, or in December 2010, when the funding was used up. This was used as bait to make Plaintiff respect DCYF and allow the abuse and neglect to be further shrouded by the fact that they were giving him money for school.
Further in the Genereux case, it is ruled that application of the discovery rule ordinarily involves questions of fact and therefore “`in most instances will be decided by the trier of fact.’” In re Mass. Diet Drug Litig., 338 F.Supp.2d 198, 204 (D.Mass. 2004) (quoting Riley, 565 N.E.2d at 783); see also Wolinetz v. Berkshire Life Ins. Co., 361 F.3d 44, 49 (1st Cir.2004) (same). In particular, application of the discovery rule involves determining “what the plaintiff knew or should have known [, which] is a factual question that is appropriate for the trier of fact.” Koe, 876 N.E.2d at 836; see also Borden v. Paul Revere Life Ins. Co., 935 F.2d 370, 376 (1st Cir.1991) (characterizing the determination of whether the plaintiff should have known of an injury as “a fact-dominated enterprise”); Castillo v. Mass. Gen. Hosp., 38 Mass.App.Ct. 513, 649 N.E.2d 788, 790 (1995). Determining when a plaintiff had notice of the likely cause of her injury is one example of such a determination. See Riley, 565 N.E.2d at 786 (“A reasonable fact finder… could find that Riley did not make the causal link….”).
Onward, they state: “Instead, we hold that, on this record, a reasonable juror could conclude that Genereux first had sufficient notice of the cause of her injury after June 22, 2001. In light of Genereux’s asthma diagnosis and the low probability of developing chronic beryllium disease, deciding when Genereux had notice that her symptoms were likely caused by beryllium “involves a decisional process fraught with resolution of factual issues,” Castillo, 649 N.E.2d at 790, such as how confident a reasonable person would have been during June 2001 of Genereux’s previous asthma diagnosis, see Bowen, 557 N.E.2d at 743. Resolution of such factual issues is “peculiarly within the province of the trier of fact.” Castillo, 649 N.E.2d at 790. The district court should not have resolved the statute of limitations issue against Genereux on this summary judgment record.”
Most importantly, the court ruled that “knowledge that she had sustained substantial physical harm” is not at issue. See Bowen, 557 N.E.2d at 741. Rather, the question is when Genereux had sufficient notice that her lung disease was caused by the appellees’ conduct.” In Bowen, the question before the court was when the plaintiff had sufficient notice that her tumor was caused by diethylstilbestrol to trigger the statute of limitations. Id. at 741. Citing the plaintiff’s possession of materials suggesting “the prospect of a significant causal connection” between diethylstilbestrol and her “exceedingly rare” condition, the court concluded that the plaintiff acquired sufficient notice of the cause of her injury outside the limitations period. Id. at 743. Yet it was argued that Genereux’s asthma diagnosis is relevant to determining when she had sufficient notice that her lung disease was “related” to beryllium exposure.
The district court did not mention asthma in its analysis of the limitations issue. Nor have appellees addressed the matter, outside a footnote, in their briefing to this court. We agree with the appellants that Genereux’s asthma diagnosis is significant. At the time Genereux first learned of chronic beryllium disease, she had long suffered from asthma symptoms. In fact, Genereux was diagnosed with asthma as a child, years before she was exposed to beryllium. This diagnosis was confirmed on repeated occasions when Genereux was an adult. She was treated for asthma during her employment at Raytheon and afterwards, at times by a specialist. No reasonable jury could conclude that Genereux lacked notice, even after June 19, 2001, that her symptoms were “likely caused” not by asthma, but by another disease. A reasonable jury could conclude that Genereux’s common-law claims were timely. Thus there exists a genuine issue of material fact about the timeliness of those claims.”
Similar to the Genereux case, the acknowledgement that Plaintiff has post traumatic stress disorder and depression is significant because he was diagnosed in ~1993, long before DCYF involved themselves in his life in 1999. The diagnoses were confirmed on repeated occasions. Plaintiff was treated for these disorders during DCYF care and after DCYF care, and to this very day. The cause of worsening, continuing, and increase of symptoms including flashbacks, nightmares, and depression was unclear until the visit of November of 2010. Thus, Plaintiff lacked notice that his symptoms were likely caused by the abuse and negligence of the Department of Children, Youth, and Families and its co-defendants.
Additionally, in Depetrillo v. Dow Chemical, the court found that because the plaintiff did not suspect dangerous consequences from exposure to toxic chemicals between certain years, the argument that the causes of action accrued before Plaintiff became ill was rejected, relying on the Anthony ruling. Similarly, in Wilkinson v. Harrington, the court ruled that “a person should have reasonable opportunity to become cognizant of an injury and its cause before the statute of limitations begins to run.” The day the DCYF investigators came to Plaintiff’s house was the day that he finally discovered the cause of the injury — DCYF was the cause of the abuse and negligence due to their lack of vigilance and blatant ignorance while in their care — and this was later confirmed to Plaintiff by flashbacks and nightmares. They were needlessly involving themselves in his life at a time that he needed them the least, a time when there was in fact no abuse or neglect taking place (which they acknowledged); they were only there because of the false call by [[name redacted]]’s mother to the DCYF abuse hotline.
Thus, the bona fide injury manifested itself to the plaintiff in November 2010. In Wilkinson v. Harrington, the court cited Silvertooth v. Shallenberger where that court ruled that the statute of limitations should be deemed to have begun to run at the point in time when the injury became apparent — in the Plaintiff’s case, the injury became apparent when, in November of 2010, he began questioning Defendant’s practices, and also the increased amount of flashbacks, nightmares, and episodes of depression that he was suffering.
The emotional trauma and toxic levels of Thorazine had suppressed all memory and/or recollection of specific conduct until November of 2010. Plaintiff argues that discovery of incidents of abuse and negligence were delayed due to impaired cognition and memory loss generated by the trauma as well as the toxic levels of Thorazine. The causes of action did not accrue until plaintiff discovered that he would never be able to have a normal life and would always be a product of intense and illegal DCYF scrutiny. Factual issues should be determined at trial. The causes of action accrued and the statute of limitations begins to run when the plaintiff knew or, in the exercise of ordinary diligence, should have discovered that an injury had been sustained as a result of the tortious acts of the defendants.
To quote further from Anthony v. Abbott Laboratories, 490 A. 2d 43 — RI: Supreme Court 1985: “This court has, in certain cases and circumstances in the past, rejected the general rule that a cause of action accrues at the time of the injury.” “To require a man to seek a remedy before he knows of his rights, is palpably unjust.” “Thus the present petitioner should have her day in court to show, if she can, that her suit was timely brought and that she is entitled to relief. Whether or not she will prevail must await a hearing on the merits in the superior court.” “In defining the word “accrue,” we noted that three possible interpretations existed. Strict construction would find the statute running from the time the negligent action occurred.
A more liberal interpretation would define “accrue” as the time the injury first became apparent. Finally, a third possibility suggests that the statute would start running when the plaintiff discovered the injury or, through the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have discovered it. Id. at 231, 243 A.2d at 749–50.”
“On the contrary, we believe the rule is compatible with the statute of repose. It would, in our opinion, be manifestly unjust to bar the enforcement of injury claims brought by a plaintiff who was not, nor could not have known that he was, the victim of tortious conduct because the consequent harm was unknowable within two years of the negligent act.” Wilkinson v. Harrington, 243 A. 2d 745 — RI: Supreme Court 1968
“To construe the statute narrowly so as to preclude a person from obtaining a remedy simply because the wrong of which he was the victim did not manifest itself for at least two years from the time of the negligent conduct, is clearly inconsistent with the concept of fundamental justice. To require a man to seek a remedy before he knows of his rights, is palpably unjust.” in Wilkinson v. Harrington, 243 A. 2d 745 — RI: Supreme Court 1968
“A person should have reasonable opportunity to become cognizant of an injury and its cause before the statute of limitations begins to run,” Therefore, we reject defendant’s contention that any causes of action accrued before Terry became ill and could have discovered Dow’s allegedly wrongful conduct.” DiPetrillo v. Dow Chemical Co., 729 A. 2d 677 — RI: Supreme Court 1999.
III. FRAUDULENT CONCEALMENT
Plaintiff hereby alleges that the Defendants fraudulently concealed that there were placements available of a less restrictive nature, in violation of RI Gen. Laws 14–1–36.2. Further, Defendants concealed the departmental conspiracy to disrupt and dismantle Plaintiff’s family and living situations across many years. Defendants have and had a clear prejudice against Plaintiff, which they also concealed. Plaintiff discovered that he was in the crosshairs of a conspiracy due to the abuse and neglect perpetrated by the Defendants Burk and Garcia from 2005–2010 and ultimately upon the revelatory events of late 2010. Defendants concealed an abuse of discretion in the events from 2002 to 2010. Defendants also concealed a conspiracy to prevent Plaintiff from his right to petition the government for a redress of grievances, as well as a conspiracy to intrude into his life at any time, exhibiting abuse of discretion and prejudice. Plaintiff also discovered the course of action exhibited a continuity of purpose that had existed since 2002. Defendants also acted under color of law throughout each conspiratorial act. When Plaintiff was forced to confront the cause of the conspiracy, he realized that the encroachment of his daily life activities, blatant disregard for privacy, mass prejudice, and discrimination had been perpetrated by Defendants and existed in some form or another since 2002.
In order to demonstrate that there has been fraudulent concealment on the part of a defendant, a plaintiff must show: (1) that the defendant made an actual misrepresentation of fact; and (2) that, in making such misrepresentation, the defendant fraudulently concealed the existence of plaintiffs causes of action. Kelly, 187 F.3d at 200 (applying Rhode. Island law); see also Renaud v. Sigma-Aldrich Corp., 662 A.2d 711, 714 (R.I.1995)
Rather, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant made an “express representation or [engaged in] other affirmative conduct. amounting in fact to such a representation which could reasonably deceive another and induce him [or her] to rely thereon to his [or her] disadvantage.” Caianiello, 78 R.I. at 476–77, 82 A.2d at 829; see also State v. Wilkins, 267 Kan. 355, 985 F.2d 690, 696 (1999) (“In order to constitute concealment of the fact of a crime, there must be a positive act done by the accused calculated to prevent the discovery that the offense has been committed. Mere silence, inaction, or nondisclosure does not constitute concealment.”). The key consideration is whether or not the defendant fraudulently misrepresented material facts, thereby misleading the plaintiff into believing that no cause of action existed. See Kelly, 187 F.3d at 200.
Legislative inaction as to malpractice should not be ignored in determining legislative intent but such inaction is not necessarily determinative in the face of the ordinary meaning of “accrued” as it is used in relation to a cause of action. The word “accrue” is derived from the Latin “ad” and “creso” to grow to. When applied to independent or original demands it means to arise, to happen, to come into force or existence.*312 When used with reference to a cause of action it means when an action may be maintained thereon. It accrues whenever one person may sue another. Black’s Law Dictionary, 4th ed and cases cited therein. The cause of action must necessarily accrue to some person or legal entity. To say that a cause of action accrues to a person when she may maintain an action thereon and, at the same time, that it accrues before she has or can reasonably be expected to have knowledge of any wrong inflicted upon her is patently inconsistent and unrealistic. She cannot maintain an action before she knows she has one. To say to one who has been wronged, “You had a remedy, but before the wrong was ascertainable to you, the law stripped you of your remedy,” makes a mockery of the law. Rosane v. Senger, 112 Colo 363, 149 P2d 372, 375 (1944). In the absence of an expressed statutory direction to that effect, to ascribe to the legislature any such intention by their use of the word “accrue” seems to us unreasonable. Berry v. Branner, 421 P. 2d 996 — Or: Supreme Court 1966
It should be noted that the fraudulent concealment exception does not establish a new date for the commencement of the statute of limitations, but rather creates an equitable exception. Burks, 534 N.E.2d at 1104–05; Spoljaric, 466 N.E.2d at 45. Under this exception, instead of a full statutory limitations period within which to act, a plaintiff must exercise due diligence in commencing her action after the equitable grounds cease to operate [**14] as a valid basis for causing delay. Burks, 534 N.E.2d at 1105. When the fraudulent concealment exception applies, the equitable grounds cease when a person, once becoming an adult, knows or should have discovered that a childhood injury was sustained as a result of the defendant’s tortious conduct (statute of limitations should be deemed to have begun to run at the point in time when the injury first became apparent. Silvertooth v. Shallenberger, 49 Ga. App. 133, 174 S.E. 365. adopted the view that in these cases the statute of limitations should not begin to run until the patient has discovered that he has suffered an injury or, by the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have discovered it. Johnson v. St. Patrick’s Hosp., 148 Mont. 125, 417 P.2d 469; Ayers v. Morgan, 397 Pa. 282, 154 A.2d 788.)
IV. UNSOUND MIND
Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian also has several mental incapacities, including severe post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, incurred as a result of the conduct of the Defendants, perpetrated from from 2002 through 2010. Plaintiffs urges the Court that this should serve to equitably toll the three year statute of limitations. See Johnson v. Newport County Chapter for Retarded Citizens, 700 A.2d 289, 291 (RI 2002).
Statute of limitations were also suspended due to Plaintiff’s loss and/or repression of memory from Thorazine and PTSD.
Further, in the 2011 Kerr article, DCYF administrator Stephanie Terry notes that “[DCYF is] in the midst of trying to get away from residential care […] It doesn’t normalize; it makes things more difficult. If you tell a child when to eat, when to go to bed, how can they come out of that and know how to deal with life?”
Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian, as he was in night-to-night placement, was implicitly unable to “manage his day-to-day affairs,” especially when the defendants continuously interrupted his inherent desire to lead a stable lifestyle as a teenaged student, as evidenced by his employment at the State House, participation in the Providence Urban Debate League, relentless effort to remain in one school, and many other talents conceded by the Defendants and referenced by the Plaintiff. His day-to-day affairs were interrupted at a crucial time when he was exhibiting his ability to manage them. Every success was thwarted by Defendants, who relentlessly sought to portray him as unstable, even when Plaintiff was leading a stable lifestyle. Moreover, Plaintiff even took a leave of absence from his State House job to lobby for a stable day to day lifestyle, something the Defendants were unwilling to provide. Plaintiff could not be responsible for his day to day affairs because that power was usurped by defendants upon execution of the beginning elements of a conspiracy to disrupt his life and lobbying activities. Evidence of this is the Defendant’s act of sending him to out of state facilities where he was refused contact with anyone.
Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian also asserts that he never made an umbrella statement of unconsciousness — he remembered the underlying theme of abuse throughout his life — but remembered piercing facts, times, and places of abuse upon the tragic resurgence of pain in November 2010. The grace period for those of unsound mind, age of minority, etc. allow a reasonable opportunity to assess and assert his legal rights. This opportunity was never afforded to Plaintiff who lacked knowledge the trauma and injuries, and the causes thereof… due to fraudulent concealment of abusive treatment. Defendants represented to plaintiff that they protected him from abuse, saved him from abusive out of state placements, etc. disadvantaged plaintiff because of their convincing.
The actions for injuries to plaintiff was to be maintained by his CASA attorney (guardian ad litem). Plaintiff asserts that because of the legal obligations of defendants to protect and care for plaintiff, discovery of a cause of action by defendants, even absent actual cognition or memory of the plaintiff, shall be imputed to the plaintiff and conclusively constitute the accrual of an action within the meaning of the age of majority (or unsound mind) statute, thus allowing plaintiff two years after reaching majority within which to commence suit. However, this general rule must be subject to an exception when, as in the present case, the plaintiff’s claim asserts childhood/adolescent injury from the intentional, conspiratorial, abusive, and negligent acts of those who were required by law to care for him.
Under such circumstances, the Court must not presume that defendants informed plaintiff of childhood events, but the doctrine of fraudulent concealment should be available to estop defendants from asserting the statute of limitations when defendants were, either by deception, or by violations of duty, concealed from the plaintiff material facts thereby preventing the plaintiff from discovering a potential cause of action. Burks, 534 N.E.2d at 1104;
In November of 2002, the Providence Journal’s Bob Kerr wrote about a 15-year-old, Nicholas Alahverdian, who at the time was living at a group home in Rhode Island. Nicholas had been “forced to live his life in bits and pieces, never knowing how long he will be living or going to school in the same place,” Kerr wrote.
Nick was in “night-to-night placement” under the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF), Kerr explained. “It is often little more than a couch to sleep on for the night, followed by a day of wondering where the next couch will be.” In night-to-night placement, Nick would be threatened; assaulted; have his clothing and sneakers stolen; and then, after waking up early in the morning, go to the DCYF building to wait and see where he would be going the following night.
But Nicholas Alahverdian was smart, very smart. He devoured newspapers and books and kept notes on what was going on in his life. He also told Kerr at the time that he was in “a war with people who are trying to destroy kids’ lives.”
Somehow, Nick survived and eventually attended classes at Harvard University. Fast forward to 2011 when Kerr talked to Nick again. By then, at age 23, Nick told Kerr how the Family Court in RI sent him out of state to facilities “that featured barbed wire, lockdowns, and limited access to the outside world — all at a cost of $330 a day to the state he came from,” Kerr wrote.
Nick believed that he was being sent out of state, to Manatee Palms, a facility in Florida (where he says he was assaulted almost every day and which has twice been closed by the State of Florida since because of “hurtful behavior” by staff) and Boys Town in Nebraska to shut him up. As a teen, he had worked as a page and aide at the state house and he knew how things worked.
Nick has helped craft legislation to end the horrors that are visited on youth in the state of RI and held news conferences to discuss this. He has sued the state of Rhode Island, primarily to change the way other children who find themselves in similar situations are being treated.
But the horrors for children in state care continue. Earlier this month, a former employee at Harmony Hill School in Glocester told WJAR-Channel 10 that staff at the school broke the arm of her 13-year-old son while restraining him on June 1. She also said that investigations into abuse are thwarted by the school’s administration. The boy was placed at the school after he repeatedly ran away from group homes.
And on June 21, WPRI Channel 12 reported that “a 2 ½-year-old girl pronounced dead after being found unresponsive inside a Cranston home was in DCYF custody… According to the Department of Children, Youth and Families, the girl and her 4-year-old brother had been living with a foster mother in her Imperial Ave. home for about a month.”
Your superior correspondents suggest that you and the “powers that be” in the state of Rhode Island should listen to what Nicholas Alahverdian has to say. We can and should do a better job because there is plenty of horror out there.
PROVIDENCE, RI (WPRI) – A former Rhode Island resident who survived what he calls a ‘nightmare’ while living in out of state group homes is ‘hopeful’ proposed revisions to state law will save other children the torments he suffered.
“I will never regain my childhood,”Nicholas Alahverdiansaid. “And I can’t hear a door shut or a loud bang without thinking of what happened in those facilities.”
The 24 year old is now a Junior at Harvard University but lives with those still fresh, horrific memories of physical and sexual abuse he suffered in a series of out of state homes where he was placed by the Department of Children, Youth and Families.
“I think if Rhode Island cares enough this law will pass,” Nicholas Alahverdian said. “If people call their state reps and senators and tell them to recognize what’s wrong, they will pass this legislation.
One of the key changes to the law would restrict out of state placements ‘unless the court finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that there are no suitable in-state facilities that are available’.
Starting in 2002, DCYF placed Nicholas Alahverdian, who is a former General Assembly page, in group homes in Nebraska and Florida that have since been closed following his complaints of abuse and neglect. He said he was kicked, punched, hit with bats and hockey sticks and sexually abused.
“I think about it every day. It will never leave me,” Nicholas Alahverdian said. “It will never go away and it will have life long implications.”
Nicholas Alahverdian and other proponents of the measure believe there is virtually no local oversight of how Rhode Island children are cared for when they are placed out of state.
“Children are far away from (all of) their family members and there is an inability by the state or relatives to supervise the child and the facility,” he said.
There is also an economic twist to the proposed change. East Providence/Pawtucket Representative Roberto DaSilva, one of the bill’s sponsors, said the state spends millions every year on out of state service providers.
“Rhode Island has an abundance of service providers who are willing to develop individualize plans to meet the needs of our children,” Bob DaSilva said. “Instead of outsourcing our children to out of state corporations, we will keep them close to home.”
Nicholas Alahverdian is the plaintiff in a federal lawsuit that names Nebraska, Rhode Island and former family court Chief Judge Jeremiah Jeremiah among the defendants. He said ‘settlement dialog’ could begin in a matter of weeks and he hopes that will also help push the proposed bill out of the House Judiciary Committee and onto the House floor for a debate and vote.
“Not only for the children but also to boost the ability to keep funding in the state for additional beds in group homes,” Alahverdian said. “Everyone involved has to ask themselves, why are we outsourcing these services when we can do them better here?”
As for Nicholas Alahverdian; “My past will never change but my future is as an advocate and a Harvard graduate. I beat the odds.”
But he recognizes that other children who suffer similar abuse often end up either locked up or as abusers themselves, perpetuating a cruel cycle that he believes can be stopped with changes in the law.