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Saturday, February 12, 2005

one student allegedly had holes drilled in his hands by older cadets.

By Laura McAlister
Alex City Outlook

Eight lawsuits have been filed against Lyman Ward Military Academy, all alleging abuse of former students.

The plaintiffs' attorney said the abuses range from severe beatings to verbal and mental abuse.

Parent Suzanne Blinkenstaff of Helena, said her son, Ethan, was treated so badly while at the school, she withdrew him after just a few months.

Blinkenstaff is one of the parents who filed suit against the academy. Her son, who was 12 at the time, started at the school in August of 2002.

She said she noticed her son seemed quiet and withdrawn when he visited home, but she didn't realize why until she visited him that October.

"We went to visit him at homecoming, which was Oct. 5 (2002), and we witnessed first-hand the things we had suspected," she said. "Basically there were a lot of cadets walking around with casts on, black eyes and bruises. At that time, we decided to withdraw him."

"There's one incident involving (former cadet) Shaun Brown," he said. "He was up there from 2002-2003. On Sept. 27, 2002, the allegations are that he was kicked repeatedly up and down the football field. He was stepped on and cursed. He began to vomit and they made him roll around in it. This all occurred in a course of 45 minutes. I have statements from I would guess 10 to 15 students who witnessed this."

Slocumb said another student was beaten so badly he had to be hospitalized, and one student allegedly had holes drilled in his hands by older cadets.

"They said they were going to make him look like Jesus," Slocumb said. "So they drilled holes in his hands with an electric drill."

Slocumb said the stories of abuse go on and on. He said they originally started with three lawsuits, and now there's eight and he expects more to come.

Officials at Lyman Ward declined to comment on the lawsuits, but the school's attorney, Thomas Radney, said proper discipline measures are taken when there are incidents and the school denies any wrongdoing regarding the lawsuits.

"It's a military school that has a strict chain of command modeled after the U.S. military," he said. "When incidents do occur, as they do in all schools, the hierarchy of command, that includes the employees of the school, takes appropriate steps. We vehemently deny any wrongdoing or any knowledge of inappropriate conduct."

Radney named county attorney


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