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.
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;
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.
Representative DaSilva was inspired to introduce the legislation by torture victim Nicholas Alahverdian, a political activist, whistleblower, and former House of Representatives employee who has been the subject of extensive news coverage including several columns by Bob Kerr, formerly of The Providence Journal.
Nicholas Alahverdian suffered torture, abuse, and neglect in Florida and Nebraska when he was sent there by DCYF after his political activism and employment with the Rhode Island House of Representatives from 2002-2003. Nicholas Alahverdian later formed a nonprofit to advocate for legislative changes to ensure that children in DCYF care are kept safe.
Representative DaSilva said in a press release that Rhode Island has numerous resources and services to provide children and adolescents with the treatment they need in Rhode Island. Rep DaSilva noted his concern about the welfare of children and adolescents in DCYF care.
Nicholas Alahverdian was hired at the tender age of 14 as a legislative aide for the House of Representatives in the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. He wanted nothing more than to go to school and work at his State House job. Nicholas loved working in the House Chamber and serving the members of the RI General Assembly.
A dysfunctional family
Alahverdian had a problem. His mother and stepfather drank heavily. This worsened after they split and Nicholas lived with his alcoholic mother. Her drinking became worse when Alahverdian’s grandfather died.
She did not bring him to school. Instead, he spent his days at the library and then went to the Capitol in the afternoon. Nicholas Alavherdian made his way to the Rhode Island State House on the RIPTA bus. He traveled to downtown Providence on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays when the House and Senate met for legislative business and committee hearings.
Life at the State House
Some people would find working in the labyrinth that is the Rhode Island State House to be daunting and harrowing. Ever the quick learner, Nicholas didn’t feel that way. He swiftly learned how a bill became a law, who the power players were, which clerk had the best chance of putting a bill first on the committee docket, and other details that most lobbyists take years to learn. Alahverdian learned from the best.
Alahverdian charmed the legislators he worked with. He was invited to fundraisers and the representatives and senators enjoyed his presence. Knowing that he was often left hungry because of his mother’s alcohol addiction, the state legislators even gave him money or invited him to their homes for meals. They wanted to make sure he would have the basic necessities of life.
Nicholas was being abused and neglected at home, and this was common knowledge. But what happened next would spark the most heinous case of torture and abuse that the child welfare system has ever seen. Alahverdian began to demand that he be given a normal and consistent school placement. This occurred after he was taken from his mother due to her parental incompetence.
“A waste of taxpayer money”
The officials in charge of his case, among them a corrupt social worker named Ron Razza, called Nicholas Alahverdian a “waste of taxpayer money.” Other DCYF staff including Mike Burk (the same Michael S. Burk of the Tiverton, RI Democratic party and longtime assistant to the Executive Director of DCYF) even lobbied state representatives to get him fired from his job with the House of Representatives.
Nicholas Alahverdian took matters into his own hands and left the Rhode Island House of Representatives Legislative Aide position on his own accord. He thought it would be a temporary leave of absence.
The youngest lobbyist in history
Nicholas became a registered lobbyist in 2002 and advocated for foster care reform and a permanent school placement. This was not just for him — it was a mission to improve care for all children and adolescents in DCYF care. When Alahverdian registered as a lobbyist, he became the youngest lobbyist in the history of the State of Rhode Island.
Nicholas testified before committees and commissions. He issued detailed briefs on the pitfalls and failures of the state agency charged with caring for neglected and abused children. Alahverdian exposed the wrongdoings of staff and the criminal records of employees and contractors. He made a concerted effort to illuminate the inconsistencies in providing education. This was mainly due to the inherent instability provided by the cruel and abhorrent practice of night-to-night placement.
Alahverdian continued his advocacy work while in the night-to-night program where he was denied a permanent home and academic placement. Nicholas began to draw attention from more representatives and senators who demanded that Judge Jeremiah order a permanent home to be found for him. But Judge Jeremiah and Governor Carcieri had other plans for Alahverdian.
Nicholas Alahverdian began to get more and more attention. His case was covered by The Providence Journal, NBC News, CBS News, ABC News, and Cumulus Broadcasting, among others. Nicholas was even scheduled to appear on The O’Reilly Factor and the Today show on NBC.
Enough is enough
However, Rhode Island officials had enough of the embarrassment. The corrupt officials, namely Judge Jeremiah, Governor Donald L. Carcieri, DCYF Director Jay Lindgren, and others worked to snuff Alahverdian and his story out of the press to protect their reputation.
Alahverdian was sent far from home where he was allowed to contact no one at all. He was refused communication with the legislators who had fought on his behalf. He was refused contact with lawyers. Alahverdian was refused to file a lawsuit or contact the courts to contest the lockdown placements where he was unlawfully held.
The torture of Nicholas Alahverdian
When Nicholas Alahverdian was sent to Nebraska and Florida, the state officials knew these facilities were dangerous. This knowledge was supplied to the state officials in the form of grand jury reports issued by the respective states through what is called the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.
Nicholas was sent far from home in violation of Rhode Island General Laws as well as U.S. federal law. Rhode Island law holds that a child be placed in the least restrictive setting possible. Instead, Alahverdian was placed hundreds of miles from home in places where he was allowed to contact no one and where he was beaten on a daily basis.
Nicholas was also raped on multiple occasions at the facility in Florida, and news articles covering the crime exist to support the claim made in Alahverdian’s lawsuit. The rapist, Rhonda Smith, pleaded guilty in a Florida court.
A technician at Manatee Palms Youth Services was arrested Thursday on a charge she sexually battered a 17-year-old male at the facility.
Rhonda Smith, 23, of Bradenton was accused of molesting the teen on three separate occasions, according to an arrest report filed by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office. Smith admitted to the battery, the report said, and she was arrested on a charge of sexual battery.
According to the report, Smith was a clinical health technician at Manatee Palms Youth Services, placed there by Advance Personnel Services Inc. Advance Personnel Services officials said the woman is no longer employed by the company and that she was applying to the sheriff’s office the day the teen told authorities about the battery. She is free on bond.
Officials at Manatee Palms Youth Services directed questions to a corporate office. An official at its corporate office said the company is cooperating with authorities but had no further comment.
The Bradenton Herald also reported on another abusive individual hired by the Florida facility and published it in the same article:
In August 2003, an off-duty Manatee Palms Youth Services mental health technician was arrested for asking a 15-year-old girl to have sex with him on camera, an arrest report said at the time. The case against Jaimie Rivera, 43, is still pending.
Alahverdian was left at the Florida facility even as his RI DCYF social worker demanded that he be removed due to the torture he was enduring when she visited. The social worker remarked in official reports that Alahverdian was chemically sedated beyond recognition. Nicholas was covered in contusions, scars, fresh bruises, broken teeth, fingerprints around his neck, and black eyes.
Nicholas remained in the facility for six more months as the torture, beatings, and abuse continued.
When Nicholas Alahverdian was finally released and flown back to Rhode Island in June 2005, he was a shell of his former self. No longer was he the auspicious young man who carried loads of books in his briefcase on his way to the State House with stacks of legislative bills in the other arm. Nicholas was reduced to a zombie. His cognitive functions and motor skills were impaired. Alahverdian was a vegetable.
Alahverdian was unable to read or write. Nicholas was exactly where Judge Jeremiah and Governor Carcieri wanted him: first, in a place where he could not physically or verbally expose the truth. Second, in a mental state that rendered him incapable of expressing what the hell happened to him in these facilities that were absolute hell holes.
What happened to Nicholas Alahverdian should never happen to any other kid — anywhere — ever again.
Nicholas Alahverdian endured torture as a 15-year-old political prisoner
torture (noun) The action or practice of inflicting severe pain on someone as a punishment or in order to force them to do or say something.
‘the torture of political prisoners’
‘confessions extracted under torture’
1.1Great physical or mental suffering.
1.2A cause of great physical or mental suffering.
Nicholas Alahverdian is a political prisoner. He was tortured by the direct orders of Rhode Island state officials. These officials are acting under the color of law as a result of Alahverdian’s political activism. They aim to further their own personal and public interests.
Nicholas Alahverdian sat down with Bob Kerr of The Providence Journal in March 2010 to talk about how he was tortured and abused as an adolescent under the direction of Rhode Island state officials as a result of his political activism following his work as a legislative aide for the Rhode Island House of Representatives.
The question is: How does Nicholas Alahverdian, a smart kid from Rhode Island who wants desperately to go to school, end up instead in a place in Florida that features barbed wire, lockdowns and limited access to the outside world — all at a cost of $330 a day to the state he came from?
It might seem a crime would have to be involved, but there is no crime. There’s just a guy, now 23, who got caught up in Rhode Island’s child welfare system and ended up in places far from home where he couldn’t plead his case. The misery, Nicholas Alahverdian says, was compounded by beatings by other young residents of the deceptively named Manatee Palms Youth Services.
The story is one seldom heard, at least not as clearly and eloquently as Nicholas Alahverdian tells it. We hear little of those kids in state care who end up hundreds, even thousands of miles away in facilities that sometimes have complete control over their every move.
Nicholas Alahverdian is a friend of mine, and I’ve always been impressed by the mere fact of his survival. He has been stuck in a cruel system that could have left him one of the lost boys of Rhode Island. He has had brief tastes of normalcy mixed with hard stretches of pointless, spirit-sapping supervision. Now, he is going to college, trying to claim all those things denied him when his life was not his own.
Like many before him, Nicholas Alahverdian ended up in state care because his family couldn’t take care of him. He lists depression and posttraumatic stress disorder as his biggest problems. And once in the system, he found it is very hard to get out. He had some almost happy periods. There was a pretty good group home in Providence where he lived while attending Hope High School. There was a foster home that looked like it could be a long-term place to live until the foster parents decided they couldn’t make the commitment.
“It’s scary, ridiculously scary. 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 to 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.”
Night-to-night placement was, by anybody’s standards, a disaster. It was kid-dumping on the move. Long empty days would begin at a DCYF building in Pawtucket and end in one of the shelters scattered throughout the state — Woonsocket, Providence, Central Falls, Pawtucket, Narragansett.
“I never learned how to be a kid,” said Nicholas Alahverdian.
The incredible and frightening thing about Nicholas Alahverdian’s story is that once he was past night-tonight placement, he was subjected to something even worse. At our first meeting, he was enthused about his work as a page and an aide at the State House. He seemed to have the worst behind him. But he didn’t.
“Night-to-night was like Disney-land compared to Manatee Palms,” he said.
On Tuesday at noon, he is planning to hold a news conference in the State House Rotunda to talk about what has happened to him and what he is doing to try to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else. He will discuss the legislation he has been working on.
The bill he has worked on for a long time is basically his response to the horror story he had to live for too long. It would put safeguards in place to prevent kids from being sent to places far harsher and more restrictive than they need to be.
“Kids need school, not confinement,” Nicholas Alahverdian said.
He calls for a compliance officer to be put in place to protect the right of children in state care to be placed in the least restrictive environment possible. And thorough research would have to be conducted into all facilities being considered for out-of-state placements to make sure they comply with Rhode Island law.
The right to contact a lawyer, call a help line, or contact a family member would be guaranteed. While DCYF officials stress that such contact is always guaranteed, Nicholas Alahverdian says he was denied outside contact at Manatee Palms and Boys Town in Nebraska, where he was sent earlier.
Every kid in the system would get a copy of the Children’s Bill of Rights.
The decision to come out now and tell the story, to put classes at Harvard on hold for a semester so that he can lobby for the legislation, means there will be a smart public voice asking the questions seldom asked about the way DCYF deals with kids.
Stephanie Terry, associate director of Child Welfare Services for DCYF, says Nicholas Alahverdian makes some legitimate points.
“We’re in the midst of trying to get away from residential care,” said Terry. “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?”
She has a simple explanation for why kids are sent out of state. They are sent out of state because their needs cannot be met in state. But Rep. Roberto DaSilva, who represents East Providence and Pawtucket, said that he will introduce legislation by the March 3 deadline to end all out-of-state placements. He says there are resources here to provide the necessary treatment and he has talked with providers willing to do that.
While she said she can’t comment directly on Alahverdian’s case, Terry said that DCYF stopped using Manatee Palms, a 60-bed psychiatric facility in Bradenton, in 2005.
“There were concerns we had with the way they were treating our kids,” she said.
In 2004, the state paid Manatee Palms $49,468. In 2005, it paid $274,002. Since then, the facility has twice been closed by the State of Florida because of “hurtful behavior” by staff.
Nicholas Alahverdian got there on Sept. 9, 2004, and stayed for eight months. He figures his tab at about $85,000.
He remembers the lobby was beautiful. Once inside, he saw holes punched in the walls and heard constant screaming.
“I was a geek nerd who wanted to read.”
He said he was assaulted almost every day. He finally got out, he said, after Pat Chabot, a DCYF social worker, visited and realized how bad the situation was. Rhode Island Family Court finally intervened.
Nicholas Alahverdian has “aged out” of the system. His resilience is stunning. He has been through two out-of-state placements — Boys Town in Nebraska, which was a bust, and Manatee Palms, which was a nightmare. He thinks part of the reason he was sent far away is because he kept challenging the system here at home.
“The problem here was, I was consistently informative, a source of information on DCYF.”
He just wanted to go to school, he said, and he can’t understand why that couldn’t have been arranged in the state he grew up in. He will probably never get a real explanation.
We can only hope that Nicholas Alahverdian is one of the last of the Rhode Island kids sent away and cut off from home. DCYF is changing, Terry says. For one thing, night-tonight placement is never, ever coming back. And while there are currently 27 kids in out-of-state placement, more than half are in Massachusetts and Connecticut. And some placements are made with the knowledge of family members living close to facilities in other states.
“You can’t make behavioral changes in children and not work with the family at the same time,” said Terry.
Nicholas Alahverdian, who was tortured in state care, wants statute of limitations waived
BY GREGORY SMITH
PROVIDENCE JOURNAL STAFF WRITER
December 10, 2011
PROVIDENCE — A former General Assembly page who was a ward of the state because he had an abusive upbringing is trying to persuade a federal court judge to declare that it is not too late for him to sue the state, some officials and some private youth shelters.
At issue is the statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit and other kinds of claims. In Rhode Island, a personal injury case cannot be brought more than three years after the injury became apparent.
Nicholas Alahverdian, 24, who now attends Harvard University, charges in a suit filed in February that he suffered years of abuse while in state care as a youth. He wants financial damages and improvements in the care of youths by the state Department of Children, Youth and Families and the private agencies to which the DCYF sends them.
“It really is a moral issue,” Nicholas Alahverdian said outside U.S. District Court Friday.
“It’s a question of justice.”
“America can’t be America,” he said, unless the requirements of a state law called the Children’s Bill of Rights are met and individual freedom and independence prevail.
The DCYF has said that it won’t comment on pending litigation.
His challenge, according to U.S. District Judge John J. McConnell Jr., is to show that he is entitled to an exception to the statute of limitations.
I am, Nicholas Alahverdian said through his lawyer, Matthew H. Fabisch, at a hearing in McConnell’s downtown court Friday. For one thing, Alahverdian said he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder arising from the abuse he suffered in state care and that the PTSD made it impossible for him to manage his daily activities. His condition left him incapable of complying with the statute, Alahverdian argues in his court pleadings.
The statutory clock arguably did not start ticking, he contends, until his repressed memories of the abuse bubbled up when two DCYF workers visited him in November 2010.
The DCYF and other defendants have asked Judge McConnell to dismiss the suit because, they say, it was submitted too late under the statute. McConnell said Friday that he might convert the dismissal motion to a motion for summary judgment, but he made no decision on whether the suit may go forward.
Nicholas Alahverdian is excused from having to meet the statute for the years that he was a minor, so the period in dispute is right after he turned 18, from July 13, 2005, to approximately early 2007, the judge said. He must show that he was suffering from “an unsound mind” during that period and that the clock would not have started to run then.
Assistant Attorney General Brenda Baum, who represents the DCYF and other defendants, and other lawyers for the defendants scoffed at Alahverdian’s contention that he was of unsound mind, and they complained that Alahverdian has shown no link between the alleged abuse and his PTSD.
During the period that McConnell framed, Nicholas Alahverdian worked as a page and legislative aide, held down two full-time jobs, registered himself as a lobbyist, addressed the Rhode Island House of Representatives Finance Committee, attended college, filed suit in Florida and founded a special-interest nonprofit organization called NexusGovernment.
So how can he claim that he was incapable of managing his daily activities in that time span, the defendants’ lawyers wondered aloud.
Fabisch countered that Alahverdian “bounced” from college to college and could not keep his jobs due to his mental state.
McConnell Friday removed from the case some of the out-of-state defendants, including one or more youth residential facilities in Florida where Nicholas Alahverdian alleged he was neglected and abused. He dropped them after having been informed by Fabisch that a separate suit filed by Alahverdian in Florida no longer is pending. Outside court, Fabisch refused to say what happened to the Florida litigation.
From The Providence Journal Archives, Nicholas Alahverdian tells his story of woe and despair as a child. Little did he know, less than a year later he would be sent hundreds of miles away to two abusive facilities with grand jury indictments issued against them and long track records of abuse where he would be tortured and beaten until his 18th birthday as a result of this article and other media coverage, as well as his political activism as a lobbyist.
As Nicholas Alahverdian and I talked, he took in the view of the Rhode Island State House from The Providence Journal cafeteria. “You don’t know how much I love going in that building,” he says.
Nicholas Alahverdian loves the excitement of it, the reporters and the politicians. He’s been part of it. He’s worked for state representatives Beatrice Lanzi and Gordon Fox. 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.”
Nicholas Alahverdian 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. Nicholas Alahverdian is 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.
In the best of all worlds, Nicholas Alahverdian says, he would be living at home with his mother and stepfather, brother and sister. But that isn’t going to happen. His mother and stepfather have broken up. There is a restraining order. There is some tension with his brother who has emotional swings that have made it necessary to put some distance between him and the family home in Cranston.
After we talked Thursday afternoon, Nicholas Alahverdian 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, he sorts through a stack of notes he’s taken on his life so far. There are also copies of psychiatric evaluations, 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 be en to Bradley Hospital and to a group home on the campus of Butler Hospital. 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 Nicholas Alahverdian 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.
Nicholas Alahverdian suffered torture imposed upon him by Rhode Island state officials, of which Judge Jeremiah S. Jeremiah was a main perpetrator
Amended bill would make Jeremiah pay for plate
Original bill would have given the retired judge an emeritus license plate at no charge
BY TRACY BRETON
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER
PROVIDENCE — If retired Family Court Chief Judge Jeremiah S. Jeremiah Jr. gets a special emeritus license plate for his private passenger car, it’s not going to be for free.
Thursday afternoon, before the House Committee on Municipal Gover
nment convened a hearing on a bill sponsored by Rep. Helio Melo, D-East Providence, to give Jeremiah a “chief judge emeritus” plate “without an additional registration charge,” Melo submitted an amendment. The bill now calls for Jeremiah to pay for the plate, the same charge that currently applies to vanity plates. Vanity plates, depending on design, can cost a driver up to $86.50 in addition to whatever they pay as an annual registration fee to drive a specific vehicle.
The only person who came to speak on the bill was lobbyist and Harvard student Nicholas Alahverdian, who told the members of the committee that he felt “this [bill] is currently against the best interests of the state.” Nicholas Alahverdian identified himself as a former ward of the state. Among other things, he faulted Jeremiah for the way he ran the Truancy Court he created — a court now the subject of a lawsuit brought by the ACLU. “He is not deserving of this honor,” he said of the emeritus plate.
Nicholas Alahverdian is a former State House page and House legislative aide who spent his youth as a ward of the state. He is suing the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families, Jeremiah and others in United States District Court alleging that he suffered years of abuse while in state care. Nicholas Alahverdian alleges that beginning in 2002, he was put in a series of “night-to-night placements” at temporary shelters in Rhode Island where he says he was repeatedly assaulted, physically and sexually, by employees and clients. He was 14 at the time.
Nicholas Alahverdian says he testified before legislative committees about the alleged abuse and afterward was transferred to residential facilities in Florida and Nebraska where he claims he was further abused and neglected. He was eventually returned to Rhode Island and treated for two weeks at Bradley Hospital, the suit says, before being released to independent living.
Nicholas Alahverdian told the committee members Thursday night that since Jeremiah left the helm of the Family Court, there have been fewer out-of-state placements of children.
Melo’s original bill would have given the emeritus plate to Jeremiah at no additional registration charge. But now, if he gets an emeritus plate, he’d have to pay for it under the newly submitted amendment.
Others who currently have emeritus plates may find themselves in the same boat.
Larry Berman, spokesman for the House, told The Providence Journal that Melo would introduce a bill next Tuesday that would require anyone with a free emeritus plate to start paying the vanity-plate rate whenever it’s renewed. Currently, three retired judges have such plates, as do some former political leaders, a few former police chiefs, former Adjutant Gen. Reginald A. Centracchio and two widows of former police officers.
The House Committee on Municipal Government took testimony on the Jeremiah bill — which Melo says he sponsored as a favor to the Jeremiah family, in honor of the judge’s long service to the court — but held the bill for further study. It could choose to vote on it at a later date or take no action on it at all.
A bill was submitted last year to give Jeremiah a free emeritus plate “without any registration fee or service charge.” It was introduced on the last day of the session by Representatives Stephen R. Ucci, D-Cranston, and Melo. It passed in the House by a 62-to-4 vote, but was never voted on in the Senate, Berman said.
RHODE ISLAND STATE SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT, and JOHN DOE (a deputy who : refuses to give his name)
Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian brings this action to the Honorable Court due to the failure of the Rhode Island State Sheriff’s Department and one of its deputies (hereinafter referred to as “the Department,” “defendant,” or “Defendant Doe”) failed to adhere to the laws pertaining to searches, seizures, privacy, and stalking: specifically R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 9-1-2.1, 9-1-28.1, 11-45-1, the U.S. Constitution, the Constitution of the State of Rhode Island; as well as 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and 1986; and other causes of action to be conveyed to the Court. The search and seizure of the Plaintiff’s phone by a Sheriff’s deputy failed to “adhere to the highest standards of ethical conduct, [and] respect the public trust and the rights of all persons” pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 36-14-1 et seq. Further, the search and seizure failed to protect the lawful entitlements to privacy of Nicholas Alahverdian. Plaintiff respectfully requests that this Honorable Court declare that the Department’s actions violate state and federal laws, assess civil fines, punitive damages, declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and enjoin the Department from further violations.
1. Plaintiff, Nicholas Alahverdian is a resident of Rhode Island.
2. Defendant, Rhode Island State Sheriff’s Department is a Rhode Island law enforcement agency. Defendant Doe is a deputy who refuses to give his name and was not provided by the Department.
3. Jurisdiction over this matter is vested in the Superior Court pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 8-2-14.
4. Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian appeared at the Garrahy Judicial Complex. Plaintiff attempted to speak to a Court Clerk, but before even entering the courtroom, was confronted by a demonstrative deputy in the anteroom of the Courtroom. Plaintiff was screamed at by the deputy (John Doe) in the hallway, who was also swearing and acting in a volatile manner, who instructed Plaintiff to leave the area because of a “confidential hearing.” Plaintiff objected and stated that he wanted to speak to the clerk and that the court was obviously not in session.
5. While in the hallway, Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian took out his phone and began to record the malicious, verbally assaultive remarks. Defendant threatened to take Plaintiff’s phone away. Plaintiff called for help as the vicinity fell into silence because of how loud the deputy was screaming. Defendant Doe threatened to physically assault Plaintiff while they were in an elevator. Plaintiff was escorted out of the building. Plaintiff was thus prohibited from access to the courts.
6. A few weeks later, Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian returned to the courthouse. Plaintiff was speaking in the lobby of the Court offices on his cellular telephone to Chief Joseph Little of the Capitol Police. Defendant Doe heard Plaintiff tell Chief Little of the recording of the deputy who was verbally assaultive. Plaintiff did not see the deputy. Plaintiff ended the phone call. Plaintiff saw Defendant Doe come around the corner. Plaintiff felt stalked. Plaintiff was instructed to hand over the phone.
7. Plaintiff was screamed at in a volatile manner. Capitol Police officers and the Chief of Staff of the Family Court, as well as other witnesses, were present. Plaintiff refused to hand over the phone.
8. Plaintiff inquired as to why the Defendant Doe required the phone. Plaintiff was threatened with arrest for “obstruction of justice.” Plaintiff was struck twice. Plaintiff had his arms twisted. Plaintiff was violently shoved against the wall. Defendant Doe repetitively took out his hand cuffs. Defendant was verbally threatening. Defendant repetitively threatened to arrest Plaintiff.
9. Plaintiff, intimidated and in fear for his life, and under threat of arrest, handed the phone over to the deputy. Defendant left the area with the phone and returned several times, all the while screaming and hollering maniacally, violently asking the Plaintiff to locate the videos and photographs on the phone in an effort to provoke the spoliation of the evidence of the video of his verbal assaultiveness recorded earlier.
10. The two Capitol Police officers encouraged their colleague to calm down because he was so out of control.
11. Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian finally managed to depart the area.
12. Plaintiff has been stalked by Defendant Doe each time he enters the Courthouse, even after complaining about the deputy to Chief Deputy Silva and High Sheriff Dias. Defendant also has appeared in courtrooms without recusing himself due to an ongoing investigation of his conduct, and harasses Plaintiff each time he enters the courthouse.
13. Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian had an important role to document the criminal conduct of the sheriff when he began to be screamed at. Plaintiff could not perform that role if he feared criminal reprisals.
14. The four factors of illegal seizure established by Rhode Island courts are satisfied. Plaintiff owned the phone. Plaintiff previously used the phone. Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian had the power to exclude the deputy’s unlawful use and/or seizure of the phone, and Plaintiff had a legitimate basis for being present in the Courthouse.
15. Defendant’s search and seizure of the phone was unconstitutional. There was no reason to search the phone. No crime was committed. The deputy’s sole intent was to destroy evidence against him, thus using state power, the color of law, for a personal interest; that is, to destroy evidence of his previous misbehavior of verbal assault and violation of the Code of Ethics.
16. Defendant violated the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
17. Defendant had no warrant, no proof of a crime, and no probable cause.
18. The unlawful and intrusive seizure was profound. Justice Louis Brandeis of the U.S. Supreme Court wrote, “The Fourth Amendment must protect the privacies of life.” It was 1928 when he warned that “ways may someday be developed by which the government, without removing papers from secret drawers, can reproduce them in court, and by which it will be enabled to expose to a jury the most intimate occurrences of the home.” Searching and seizing Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian’s phone is a major violation of privacy.
19. Defendant did not have a warrant, nor did Defendant have the authority to issue such a warrant as the Defendant is not a judge, thus the “warrant” was not judicially sanctioned. There was no probable cause that a crime had been committed.
20. The Fourth Amendment allows no search or seizure of a person’s property without a warrant. An illegal seizure of property occurred when the defendant unreasonably interfered with the plaintiff’s possessory interests.
21. The Plaintiff’s freedom of movement was restrained and his liberty was unconstitutionally intruded upon by the defendant.
COUNT I – FOURTH AMENDMENT VIOLATION
22. Plaintiff hereby incorporates Paragraphs 1 through 21 herein.
23. Defendant illegally searched the Plaintiff and seized the Plaintiff’s phone.
24. At the time of the incident, the agent of the Department were acting under color of state law and within the scope of his employment.
25. Plaintiff claims and is entitled to compensatory damages for the injuries set forth above.
26. Plaintiff asks that this Honorable Court declare that the Department violated the Fourth Amendment.
27. Plaintiff asks that this Honorable Court enjoin the Department from future violations of the Fourth Amendment.
COUNT II – WILLFUL OR KNOWING
28. Plaintiff hereby incorporates Paragraphs 1 through 27 herein.
29. The Department violated the Fourth Amendment when it unlawfully seized the phone of the Plaintiff.
30. The Department had actual and/or constructive knowledge of the law.
31. The Department is presumed to have a knowledge of the law.
32. The Department willfully and/or knowingly violated the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.
33. Plaintiff asks that this Honorable Court assess a fine against the Department and the responsible agents for a knowing and intentional violation of the Fourth Amendment.
34. Plaintiff claims and is entitled to compensatory damages for the injuries set forth above.
COUNT III – VIOLATION OF R.I.G.L. § 9-1-28.1 PRIVACY
35. Plaintiff hereby incorporates Paragraphs 1 through 34 herein.
36. Defendant violated the privacy of the Plaintiff when it unlawfully seized Plaintiff’s phone.
37. At the time of the incident, the agent of the Department was acting under color of state law and within the scope of his employment.
38. Plaintiff claims damages for the injuries set forth above for the Department’s violation of Plaintiff’s rights under color of law.
39. Plaintiff asks that this Honorable Court declare that the Department violated R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-1-28.1.
40. Plaintiff asks that this Honorable Court enjoin the Department from future violations of R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-1-28.1.
41. Plaintiff asks that this Honorable Court assess a fine against the Department and the responsible agents for a knowing and intentional violation of R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-1-28.1.
COUNT IV – VIOLATION OF R.I.G.L. § 9-1-2.1 STALKING
42. Plaintiff incorporates Paragraphs 1 through 41 herein.
43. Defendant violated R.I. Gen. Laws § 9-1-2.1 when Defendant Doe surreptitiously stalked Plaintiff in an effort to confront Plaintiff, unlawfully seize the phone, and destroy evidence of his misconduct.
44. Plaintiff claims damages for the injuries set forth above for stalking.
COUNT V – DISORDERLY CONDUCT
45. Plaintiff hereby incorporates Paragraphs 1 through 44 herein.
46. The Department and Defendant Doe violated 11-45-1 when Defendant was swearing, screaming, and yelling, admonishing Plaintiff Nicholas Alahverdian to be in fear for his life.
47. Plaintiff claims damages for the injuries set forth above for disorderly conduct.
COUNT VI – DEPRIVATION OF RIGHTS
48. Plaintiff hereby incorporates Paragraphs 1 through 47 herein.
49. Plaintiff claims damages for the injuries set forth above under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendant for violation of Plaintiff’s constitutional rights under color of law.
COUNT VII – CONSPIRACY TO INTERFERE WITH CIVIL RIGHTS
50. Plaintiff hereby incorporates Paragraphs 1 through 49 herein.
51. Plaintiff claims damages for the injuries set forth above under 42 U.S.C. § 1985 against Defendant for violation conspiring to interfere with Plaintiff’s civil rights.
COUNT VIII – ACTION FOR NEGLECT TO PREVENT
52. Plaintiff hereby incorporates Paragraphs 1 through 51 herein.
53. Plaintiff claims damages for the injuries set forth above under 42 U.S.C. § 1986 against Defendant for having knowledge of the wrongs conspired to be committed.
COUNT IX – VIOLATION OF THE R.I. CONSTITUTION, ARTICLE 1, SECTIONS 2, 5, & 6
54. Plaintiff hereby incorporates Paragraphs 1 through 53 herein.
55. Plaintiff claims damages for the injuries set forth above under the Constitution of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Article 1, Sections 2, 5, and 6.
PRAYER FOR RELIEF
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff respectfully requests this Honorable Court
1) declare that the Defendant violated the the law;
assess civil fines;
2) award full compensatory damages to the Plaintiff;
3) award appropriate punitive damages to the Plaintiff in an amount sufficient to punish Defendant and its employees and agents for their conduct and to set an example to deter others from similar conduct;
4) award Plaintiff pre- and post-judgment interest;
award Plaintiff attorney’s fees and costs of this lawsuit;
5) declare violations of the law;
enjoin Defendant and its employees and agents from further violations of the law;
6) and grant such other relief as may be just and appropriate.
Plaintiff demands trial by jury of his claims, as well as of all issues presented in this complaint.
PROOF OF SERVICE
I certify that the foregoing Complaint has been hand delivered to the Rhode Island Department of Attorney General, on this 25th day of April, 2011.
Dated: Providence, Rhode Island April 25, 2011