After a years-long battle by the Judge Rotenberg Center, a video of a student restrained and shocked for hours was played in court on Tuesday.
It showed former resident, Andre McCollins screaming, in pain, and begging for help. The video was played at the start of McCollins’ trial against the Canton-based Judge Rotenberg Center.
Eight years ago, the center was able to convince a judge to seal the video from the public. Superior Court Judge Barbara Dortch-Okara recently denied this request and gave the signal to allow the public a look at how these controversial electric shocks are used.
According to lawyers for the center, McCollins, who was 18 then, was shocked as part of the treatment he needed to control his aggressive behavior.
“These are dramatic tapes, there’s no question about that,” said attorney Edward Hinchey, who represents two of the Rotenberg Center’s clinicians. “But the treatment plan at the Rotenberg Center, the treatment plan that Andre had in place on October 25, was followed.”
In the video, Andre sat at a desk inside a classroom when a staff member asked him to remove his coat. He doesn’t respond until he was given a shock.
He falls to the ground screaming and tried to hide under his desk. He was restrained face-down while wearing a helmet. He was not given any breaks for food or the bathroom.
“I never signed up for him to be tortured, terrorized and abused,” Cheryl McCollins, Andre’s mother, told the jury. “I had no idea, no idea, that they tortured the children in the school.”
According to his mother, she visited her son a few days later and found him unresponsive to her and things around him. “He didn’t blink.”
Concerned about her son’s state, she took Andre to a Children’s Hospital where he was diagnosed with acute stress response apparently caused by the shocks.
What’s worse, McCollins testified about watching the video and hearing staff members laughing while her son was on the floor.