Two-year-old Kassy Stewart wouldn’t finish her sandwich. She pet the family cat. She wet her pants. She cried.
Spare the rod: 30-minute cold showers until she turned purple. Thumps on the back of the head. Starvation. Beatings on the bottoms of her feet until she couldn’t stand.
But she just didn’t learn.
On June 12, 1988, she was beaten so severely that she was left blind, deaf and the thinking portion of her brain was destroyed. A boyfriend who lived in the Belleville mobile home and her mother pointed fingers at one another. Both went to prison.
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The little girl’s doctors asked that she be allowed to die, but former judge Milton Wharton couldn’t do it. He said he was hoping for a miracle.
It never came. Kassy died Nov. 2, 2005, after a life in nursing homes and on a feeding tube. She was 20.
Four calls about abuse of Kassy went in to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. There were calls for reform, and promises to do better.
Now we learn there were 10 calls in 10 months about Emily Rose Perrin, 4, of Dupo. “Princess Emily” was smothered April 10, 2015, by a drug-addled mother who said dark angels told her to kill the child.
A brave neighbor called. A school worker found her brother barefoot in the cold and called. Police called. Even Princess Emily cried out for help from the second story of that house of horrors.
The DCFS excuse mill churns again. Mumbling supervisors, record access problems, right hand not knowing what the left hand was doing.
“When we make a decision to leave children with their parents, it is not about the adults — it is about the kids — because they want it so bad. Our job therefore is to contemplate the risks and then support our decision with a full-court press,” DCFS Director Beverly Walker told lawmakers this summer. “We often find that what we are doing on the front line is not a binary choice between safety and danger.”
Safety and danger. Right and wrong. Life and death.
Binary choices that neither Kassy nor Emily ever got to make.