Michigan — June 2, 2015 at 2:34 pm

Justice partially prevails, Oakland County & former Prosecutor settle with Wendrow family for $2 million


Last March, I posted a guest post from Tali Wendrow, the mother of an autistic child who used to live in West Bloomfield. Through the use of a widely-debunked technique called “facilitated communication”, their then-14 year old daughter “typed”, with the help of an aide, that her father had raped her and her mother did nothing to stop him.

Former Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca proceeded to prosecute Tali – who is also known as Thal – and her husband Julian, spending millions of dollars of taxpayer money in the process. During their ordeal, Julian spent 80 days in jail and Tali herself was jailed and then kept prisoner in her own home with an electronic tether. After their daughter was found completely incapable of typing without the help of her aide, Gorcyca dropped the prosecution.

The Wendrows sued Gorcyca, the County, and others for the false accusations. Last year, a federal jury awarded them $3 million from Gorcyca and the County. The other plaintiffs, West Bloomfield police, Walled Lake Consolidated Schools, and the State of Michigan all settled out of court to the tune of $3.75 million. But Gorcyca and Oakland County wouldn’t let the matter lie, choosing instead to appeal the decision. So far, the County alone has spent nearly $1 million defending their abuse of the Wendrows, abuse that has garnered national attention. Today, however, it was announced that they have agreed to settle with the Wendrows for $2 million:

A former West Bloomfield family has agreed to settle a lawsuit against Oakland County and former Prosecutor David Gorcyca for $2 million, ending seven years of litigation that began after the parents were falsely accused of sexually abusing their severely autistic daughter.

A federal jury awarded Thal and Julian Wendrow $3 million in November, following several weeks of trial. But Oakland County had pledged to appeal the verdict. Both sides have been in settlement negotiations to avoid additional litigation, and reached a compromise late last week. […]

The jury, in its November verdict, awarded each of the four Wendrow family members $250,000 each, saying Gorcyca libeled them after he left office, implying to a national legal publication that the Wendrows were indeed guilty, even though the case had been dropped several months before.

The judgment against Gorcyca was unusual because it’s extremely rare for prosecutors to be held personally liable for their actions.

The jury also awarded $2 million to the Wendrows’ son, Ian Wendrow, concluding that Gorcyca’s former chief deputy, Deborah Carley, violated his Constitutional rights during the investigation. Carley now heads the Children and Youth Services Division for the Michigan Attorney General’s office.

The abuse inflicted on the Wendrows is almost beyond imaginable. In addition to jailing Julian and Tali, Gorcyca’s staff also took their children from them, placing them both in foster care. Not only that, Gorcyca and his Chief Deputy Deborah Carley attempted to have their parental rights permanently terminated. The ordeal they put the Wendrow’s son through was described in a Detroit Free Press piece following the jury’s verdict last fall:

[The Wendrow’s son] Ian, who received the largest part of the jury award, was interrogated for two hours by West Bloomfield police who told him they had videotape of his father assaulting his sister. Police never had such a tape and the claim was a lie that a psychologist would later testify left the boy traumatized. Jurors did watch a video showing Ian’s interrogation, in which the boy, then 13, doubled over in tears.

If justice was truly being served in this instance, Deborah Carley would NOT have a job in Attorney General Bill Schuette’s Children and Youth Services Division – something I find truly outrageous – and David Gorcyca would be in prison for the hell he put the Wendrows and their children through. Despite the fact that the “faciliated communication” technique has been widely debunked for decades and that a physical examination showed that the Wendrow’s daughter’s hymen was intact and she had NOT, in fact, been raped, he persisted in persecuting them, violating their civil rights, libeling them, and destroying their lives. What he did to this family is, simply put, inexcusable and unforgivable.

If there is such as thing as karmic retribution, one can only hope that David Corcyca receives a well-deserved dose of it in his own life, one commensurate with the scope of his heinous behavior.

Godspeed to the Wendrow family. It’s long past time that they are able to put this horrible ordeal behind them.

[Photo by Anne C. Savage, special to Eclectablog]