In 2007, we ran a devastating exposé of the Judge Rotenberg Center, a “school” that took mentally and psychologically troubled kids from across the country and treated them by hooking them up to electrodes and shocking them whenever they misbehaved or displayed symptoms of their disorders, like autism. Reports from former students and staff were horrific, and Jennifer Gonnerman’s extensive reporting helped launch or fortify state and local investigations into the school and its founder, Matthew Israel. Yet despite the investigations and ongoing lawsuits, the school managed to stay open.
Last month the school was targeted by Anonymous, which released a video condemning the “torture” of its students. But the video that may truly take down Rotenberg for good is below. Just yesterday this footage of a Rotenberg student being restrained and shocked for hours was played in a Massachusetts courtroom:
The disturbing video, which Boston’s Fox 25 received permission to air despite the objections of Rotenberg’s lawyers, shows a 2002 incident in which 18-year-old Andre McCollins was restrained, face-down, on the floor of a classroom, and then given 31 shocks—all because he had refused to take off his coat.
McCollins is currently suing Rotenberg. His mother, Cheryl, testified yesterday: “I never signed up for him to be tortured, terrorized, and abused. I had no idea—no idea—that they tortured the children in the school.” More footage is expected to be shown in court today.