Yesterday I was on the phone almost all day digging into the facts that have not been revealed in the media or in court testimony about the truth of why and how 12-year-old Paul Henry Gingerich became involved in Colt Lundy’s plan to murder Lundy’s stepfather on April 20th.
I have learned that a police detective lied on the stand about material facts in the case and misrepresented Paul Henry’s participation in an alleged “plan” to murder Colt Lundy’s stepfather. The playground planning engaged in by the boys was only about running away from home, not to commit murder. The murder was a last-minute change of plan pressed on the younger boys by the older Lundy less than ten minutes before the incident.
Important evidence that would have gone a long way to explaining the social dynamics of Lundy’s posse—and Paul Henry’s role and lack of culpability in events—was never introduced in court.
The more I dig and learn, the more convinced I am that a terrible miscarriage of justice has been perpetrated by the prosecutors and judges in Kosciusko County, Indiana, and that this injustice is about to be compounded by the state by sending this tender young boy to the Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility northeast of Indianapolis where, according to a US Department of Justice study released slightly more than a year ago, 36.2% of inmates report having been sexually abused by staff members and other inmates. This study concluded that Pendleton’s rate of youth-reported sexual abuse was the second-highest of 195 youth prisons studied by the federal authorities.
Contrary to what I reported in my January 13th post, I’ve learned the population at Pendleton has fewer than five inmates as young as Paul Henry. Most of the prison’s 300 inmates are much older—up to age 22—they are habitual repeat offenders, gang members and, most troubling, 50% are sex offenders. As is true with most other prisons in the US, approximately 75% have serious mental health conditions.
None of these characteristics match Paul Henry’s profile.
Paul Henry is a normal kid who has never been in serious trouble before. He is not a violent person, he has no mental illness, he is an impressionable “follower” who was bullied and manipulated by Colt Lundy into participating in a tragic incident and, in fact, had tried to talk Lundy out of carrying out his violent intention up until the last moment when Lundy’s stepfather appeared in the doorway and Lundy fired the fatal shots. Paul Henry got caught up in circumstances for which he was unprepared and developmentally ill-equipped to handle.
Here is a 2008 MSNBC program which reveals the frightening conditions within Pendleton that will greet Paul Henry in just a few days:
NOTE: This video has been removed from YouTube because of copyright infringement claims by the producer, who is a friend of ours. I am trying to get permission to post it here if their legal mavens will agree. Try again later. Maybe we’ll luck out!
The good news is that while the conditions at Pendleton are better than those at Wabash Valley Correctional Institution, the bad news is that they are likely not survivable for a child as young and naïve as Paul Henry.
The youthful offenders shown in this video are not suitable influences for this small boy who could be successfully rehabilitated were he placed in the South Bend Juvenile Correctional Facility, a medium/very-high security detention center with a smaller, younger, less violent, and less predatory inmate population.
It appears that IDOC’s decision to place Paul Henry in the “crime academy” at Pendleton is a compromise intended to placate the prosecutors and judges of Kosciusko County and avoid the public appearance of being “too soft” on a kid who became involved in a bully’s heinous crime.
But how will their decision play in the media when this small, attractive, and vulnerable boy becomes the victim of a violent sexual predator at Pendleton? If the federal report does accurately reflect Pendleton’s culture, there is an almost 40% certainty that it will happen.
When the full facts of this case become known, it will be shown that Paul Henry chose to enter Lundy’s house in order to protect his friend Chase Williams, whom Lundy had previously threatened with death if Chase did not follow Lundy’s orders. Chase was afraid of Lundy, but Paul Henry was not. He entered the house in Chase’s stead, with no intention of following through on Lundy’s orders.
But things went horribly wrong. Paul Henry was out of his depth that night, just as he will similarly be no match for the terror that awaits him in the jungle at Pendleton.
The eyes of the world will be on Paul Henry and the fate that will be inflicted upon him there. If Paul Henry is hurt in any way, there will be no way for the prison authorities to keep it a secret. There will be no way for them to avoid the severe political consequences of destroying this child.
The state’s focus should be on Paul Henry’s redemption, not retribution. The state of Indiana is embarked on a course that can only make a bad situation worse.
It is not too late for the Indiana Department of Corrections to do better than this. But they must act now before it is too late.
Groove of the Day