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Baxter School Abuse Victims To Ask Lawmakers For More Compensation
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 2, 2004

AUGUSTA, MAINE--Former students of the Baxter School for the Deaf will be going back to lawmakers this legislative session to ask the state to increase the amount of money set aside to compensate those who were abused at the facility over several decades.

Three years ago, the state apologized to the victims of physical and sexual abuse at the school, and allocated $6 million for a three-member panel to compensate the victims.

According to a story in Monday's Portland Press Herald, the state knew at that time that it would not be enough money.

Over the past year, 84 of the 240 registered claimants came before the panel with claims of abuse. Eighty-two of them received compensation of $25,000, $60,000 or $100,000 each. An estimated 100 additional former students are expected to file claims before the 2006 deadline.

And the Authority has already run out of money.

"It's a horrible thing to have people go through the process of putting their stories out there and have the panel say, 'You've been awarded an eligible amount' and then for me to say, 'We don't have the money,'" said John Shattuck, the Authority's director.

Governor John Baldacci and several lawmakers have said they hope the state can fund at least part of the additional $6 million the survivors want.

"We have to recognize that this is unfinished business the state has to take care of," said state Senator Beth Edmonds, who is sponsoring a measure seeking the additional money to compensate those who were abused at Baxter School.

One therapist who works with some former Baxter students said they have told her stories of being slapped, hit, and punched, along with being tied up, having their genitals whipped, and even "being hung naked from a tree". Some students and their parents notified authorities about the abuse at the time, but school officials denied the charges. Even after the Maine Attorney General's Office determined in 1982 that physical and sexual abuse had occurred, no administrators or staff were prosecuted, in part because the statute of limitations had run out, the paper noted.

Related article:
"Abused students seek more state money"(Portland Press Herald)


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