*While students at universities, colleges and high schools celebrate homecoming around this time; and as those who went on to become professionals return to those schools that set them on the course in the first place, a Florida town carries a greater burden this past weekend. They remember three students they recently lost to tragedy.
The students all died within weeks of one other after being hypnotized by George Kenney, a self-proclaimed mind healer and now, former principal of the school.
Two of the students committed suicide, while one of the victims, a promising athlete, died in a car crash.
Kenney is said to have altered the mind of the three students and their death was the result. Kenney, who has since resigned from North Point High School in Sarasota, Fla., was well-liked. But he was also allegedly practicing the craft without a license.
Reportedly, Kenney ignored numerous warnings by colleagues, and instead went on to hypnotize at least 75 students and staff over a five-year period.
Homecoming was especially poignant this year, as the treasured Bobcats bested their opponents 21-12. But a lot of folks in stands did talk about Kenney,
the treasured Bobcats emerged victorious, downing their opponents 21-12 in a bruising encounter. But in the stands much of the talk was of the once popular Kenney, who Damian Mallard, the attorney for the families of the three victims say “escaped punishment” in spite of his “extreme negligence.”
The $600,000 wrongful death settlement was announced just days before the homecoming game and only opened old wounds and reminded the community of the heartbreaking episode.
“It’s something they will never get over,” said Mallard.
“Probably the worst loss that can happen to a parent is to lose a child, especially needlessly because you had someone who decided to perform medical services on kids without a licence.
“He altered the underdeveloped brains of teenagers, and they all ended up dead because of it.”
“He never apologised, never admitted wrongdoing, and is now living comfortably in retirement in North Carolina with his pension,” Mallard told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
As an employee of the school board Kenney was exempt from individual action and as part of last week’s settlement, which headed off a trial that was set to begin on 11 October. The board accepted no liability for the teenagers’ deaths.
Each family will collect $200,000, the most that could be awarded without the approval of the Florida legislature. But there is still plenty of anger directed at the board and Kenney himself.
“Kenney was known to be performing hypnosis and no one stopped him,” said McKinley’s parents, Charles and Margaret, in a statement.
“He was committing crimes by engaging in hypnosis. We hope the school board will change the way it operates to prevent these types of tragedies from occurring in the future. We will move forward with the hope our wonderful son’s legacy will be that the school board puts children’s physical and mental welfare first and foremost.”
Watch a video report below and read more here.