Authors Story of Child Abuse Supported by Justice Department Investigations

Charles Carroll and his brother, Bobby, had the misfortune of being unwanted and hard-to-place foster children in the 1950s. So the powers that be simply reclassified them from "orphan" to "retarded" and exiled them to a state institution for the mentally retarded. There they remained for years, deprived of their civil liberties, devoid of their right to an education, and denied any semblance of a humane existence.

Carroll's new memoir, HARD CANDY: Nobody Ever Flies Over the Cuckoo's Nest, reveals the alarming abuses?emotional abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse and pedophilia?endured by the author, his brother, and other residents. It's written in the format of a novel; as a reader, you can easily lose yourself in Carroll's world and think you're reading fiction. But every so often, you'll turn the page to discover a photograph depicting the scene you've just read?a sobering reminder that this is, in fact, a shockingly true story."I chose to use the novel format because I felt this was the best way to tell my story," says Carroll.

"I think this really allowed me to communicate how I felt at the time things were happening to me. I had the freedom to bring the 'characters' to life and take the reader on the journey with me." And what a journey that is. The author describes?through the eyes of a child, but the sensitive introspection of an adult?a world of living conditions so sadistic, so brutal and degrading, that "child abuse" seems a chillingly inadequate label.Of course, that was fifty years ago.

Such things could never happen today. Right?.Unfortunately, wrong.

"The Justice Department has been investigating state institutions across the U.S.?more than 60 facilities in the last five years alone," says Carroll. "Some of these have been developmental disability and mental retardation facilities. And, lo and behold, the New Lisbon Developmental Center in New Jersey, where my brother and I were committed, came under their radar screen.

".In fact, the book's appendix offers startling evidence that abuses are anything but a thing of the past. The Justice Department's investigation of New Lisbon, in 2001?2002, found continuous violations of residents' civil rights and even life-threatening conditions. Investigations at other institutions bear striking similarities to one another and to New Lisbon: sexual abuse, physical abuse, and verbal abuse of residents (by staff and by other residents, even by other children); failure to report and follow up on incidents; inadequate psychiatric and medical care; inadequate education; inadequate habilitation programs (to prepare residents to function in society); and even a failure to provide basic sanitation. (For more details on the Justice Department probes under CRIPA, the Civil Rights for Institutionalized Persons Act, and a partial list of facilities investigated, go to www.usdoj.

gov/crt/split/cripa.htm.)."When I read the Justice Department reports," relates Carroll, "all of my personal experiences came to mind?the abuse by staff, the attacks by other children, the unsanitary conditions, the feeling of futility when any of us tried to report an incident. In my book, I paint a pretty forthright picture of my life back then, with no apologies and no sugarcoating. But I also try to focus on how I survived, how my love for my brother kept me going.

And I really want this book to be a voice for all those other children, victims like me, who can't speak for themselves.".As gut-wrenching as HARD CANDY is, it ultimately leaves the reader with a sense of that determination to survive and of the strong bond Carroll had?and has?with his brother, Bobby.

"After we were released from the state system, I lost track of Bobby. When I found him, in 1988, I decided it was time to write this book?something I had vowed to one day do when I was in my early teens.".HARD CANDY has been the culmination of a long, hard road since Carroll's days as a state ward.

When he was finally released at the age of 16, he had the equivalent of a second grade education. He ended up in California and earned his diploma from Hollywood High School, then went on to earn an associate's degree in sociology and came just one course short of receiving his bachelor's degree from California State University. Carroll eventually started his own electrical contracting business, which supported him for twenty years.That's when he found Bobby and started working on the book. He spent six years doing research, and another seven years writing, for a total of 12 revisions. "Facing my past was difficult," says the author.

"I cried a lot, and the nightmares began all over again. But I persevered, and it ended up being a very cathartic process?better than therapy. Today, I'm at peace with myself.".

Today, the brothers are reunited and living in Southern California. What does Carroll want to do now? "I want Bobby and I to stay together now, the way we started as children. And I want to raise public awareness of child abuse, pedophilia, and institutional abuse?to try to prevent similar abuses from happening in the future. Otherwise, I want little else for myself.

".HARD CANDY: Nobody Ever Flies Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Charles A. Carroll, is available on Amazon and other online book retailers.Help Prevent Child Abuse.If you suspect a case of child abuse or neglect, contact your local police, department of child protective services or family and children services, or National Child Abuse Hotline (Childhelp USA) 800-4-A-Child or 800-422-4453 (24 hours) www.


Alison Cohen has an MBA from Cornell University and twenty years' experience in marketing, writing, and editing. For more information about HARD CANDY or to set up an interview with author Charles A. Carroll, please contact Ms.

Cohen at 248-548-4489 or, or go to

By: Alison Cohen

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