by Max Brantley
Someone with a longer memory than I remembered two occasions on which Storay had been a victim of criminal actions as a child.
As an eight-year-old, he was beaten by four "big brothers" from his church after getting in trouble at school. "I get spanked a lot because I get in trouble a lot," the child told investigators at the time, according to a 1999 article by Jim Brooks in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
The beating tore a three-inch chunk of skin from Storay's buttock. Rev. Cedric Hayes, pastor of Gloryland Baptist Church, held a news conference at the time to discuss charges against the four men, who were members of the church's Soldiers of Christ, a fraternity described as meant to instill discipline. Hayes apologized for the men's actions.
Four men were arrested for taking turns spanking the 56-pound child after school because he'd reportedly hit a girl. The men paddled him as he bent over a chair in the church barbershop, then took him home where his guardian was alerted by blood on his underwear. When police came, they said the child couldn't sit or stand but had to lay on his stomach. Said a police report, "His bottom was extremely swollen, and extremely bruised and bloody. He had a large portion of skin that looked as if it had been ripped from his bottom."
Correlation is not causation and all that and none of this has a bearing on guilt or innocence in current offenses. But my friend Randy Cox, a Little Rock social worker who devotes his life to ending the use of corporal punishment, could tell you a lot about what behavioral science shows on use of brutality to modify behavior and its prevalence in the early lives of our prison population.
UPDATE: Another news article on the incident notes that Storay was traumatized at age seven when he survived a car accident that killed the rest of his family.
UPDATE II: A source confirms that a man was prosecuted for raping Storay as a seven-year-old, but acquitted in a bench trial.
UPDATE III: Storay was reportedly on probation on a burglary charge and there are reports that his supervision was lax. I await the legislators who'll line up to mount high horses about the probation system and not give a thought to the ways our system failed this kid long before probation came along.