[Hpn] Abusive religious shelters and the police department that protects them

Janice Stevenson janicestevensonus@yahoo.com
Fri, 06 Dec 2002 07:03:23 -0800 (PST)


This is a true story. This event happened in Lawrence,
MA.

How fragile are men’s egos.  Can women say no?  Can
women object to abusive mistreatment?  No they can’t
say no to certain men.  

On Monday, November 25, 2002, the Lawrence Police
Department was called to the Lazarus House.  They came
because Shaun Logan, Shelter Director, didn’t like
what was said to him by a woman.  Shaun ordered Laura,
a female third grade teacher with the Methuen Pubic
School System who works on the staff at Lazarus House,
to call them.  Kelly Townsend, female Volunteer
Coordinator at Lazarus House, witnessed the call. 

It seems that Shaun is upset; his ego is burnt.  He is
“the director”.  No one tells him NO! A woman had told
him no and ignored him.  Shaun had approached the
woman in the cafeteria of Lazarus House.  He wanted to
know who she was. 

This woman had never seen him before and really didn’t
feel obligated to answer him.  He inquires of Laura
about the woman’s identity.  Laura states, “That is
Janice.” “Hey Janice, I am Shaun come here and talk to
me.  Janice said, No I have my children to get ready
for bed and get the laundry downstairs. 

The man, Shaun, goes up the stairs after her.  He
opens Janice’s bedroom door.  Janice looks up
startled.  Men are not allowed upstairs.  Janice puts
her foot behind the door to keep him from entering.
“Don’t come in here!” Janice shouts.  “I am the
director” the man says. “Don’t come in here, get out”
shouts Janice as a struggle commences at the door. 
Shaun is pushing the door open and Janice is pushing
the door shut.” When is your last night here? He asks
Janice.  “I don’t know and I don’t care, Janice
replies still trying to push the door shut.  “Sunday
night will be your last night here” Shaun says and
leaves.  By now the woman next door, Elizabeth Riva is
awake; the older woman in the room next to Elizabeth
is awake; and Lucy, who lives upstairs on the third
floor with her son is awake.

Well, Janice is unnerved and tired from her struggle
with “Shaun”.  An unknown man, angry over being
ignored, comes into her room, without regard for her
or the children.  Janice wanted to file a complaint
with the police.  She goes downstairs to tell Laura to
call the police.  Kelly is sitting in a chair in the
office.  Laura laughs and says, “I am not calling the
police.”  “Why not” asks Janice?  “Because that man is
by boss!”  At that moment Shaun walks into the room
saying “I am going to call the police to get you put
out of here tonight!”

Waiting for the police to arrive seemed to take
forever.  Janice knows that Shaun’s behavior is
illegal and discriminatory.  Their struggle at the
bedroom door was an assault, the willful use of force
or violence upon another.  Janice notices that Sister
Mary Ellen Broderick has come to shelter.  The Sister
goes into the office.
 
The woman next door, Elizabeth Riva (978-683-8959),
comes to Janice’s room.  “I heard what that man said. 
It is wrong of him to put you and your children out in
the street tonight.”  Elizabeth says.  She is 29, very
pretty with three children: 8-, 6-, and 4-years old. 
Janice looks out of the hallway window as she waits
for the police to arrive.   They banter back and
forth.  Kelly comes up the stairs and tells Elizabeth
“You are disturbing the other residents.”  

Elizabeth objects to the mistreatment of Janice that
she had witnessed.  Shaun has come back up the stairs.
 He tells her, “You will leave tonight also. I will
get the police to put you out.”

When five cars of police arrived, Janice is told to
come down.  Elizabeth steps to the head of the stairs
and attempts to tell the officers what had happened.  

Downstairs Janice tells about the man’s abusive
behavior. She wanted to file a complaint.  He police
ignores this request.  The officers do not feel that
there was an assault.  The police never spoke with
Elizabeth to hear her side of the story.

The Shaun’s version was that I was disruptive and
provoking the other residents.

Officer 117 states to the Lazarus House staff, “Do you
want to put a woman with three children out in the
rain tonight?  Not one of the Lazarus House staff says
a word.

Shaun says Janice will leave on Tuesday, November 26,
2002.  There is a winter advisory in effect for
Tuesday.  The police agreed and left.

There is more to the story but I will stop here. 
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day.  I will sleep in my car
with my children.  I hope Elizabeth was not put out of
Lazarus House.  I filed for injunctive relief on
Tuesday in Superior Court, Judge Whitehead, in
Lawrence, MA.  This was my attempt to preserve a place
for my children live.
 
I was put out of the shelter on Tuesday and told that
my things will be “disposed” of if I did not pick them
up by 5 a.m.  I had no place to take my belongings.
A police officer told me on Tuesday as I was told I
had been put out, Lazarus House can do whatever they
want.”

On Thanksgiving Day, I am sure Shaun and the police
officers will thank God for their positions, look
across the table as they pray before the thanksgiving
dinner and thank God for their families.  

As I sit in my car with my children, I too have a lot
to be thankful for.





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