Kerry Lou’s Story of Abuse and New Tribes Mission

My name is Máire Skogstjärna. Once upon a time it was Kerry Louise Gray. Born in Blacktown NSW, Australia on Aprill 11th 1971. My parents were sent out as missionaries by NEW TRIBES MISSION AUSTRALIA (& USA) to work in PANAMA in 1971, when I was 10 months old.

On November 7th 1986 at Escuela Hogar Misionero in Chame, Panama, I had my left knee put completely out of joint, resulting in that my lower leg ended up behind my upper leg. Knee cap, ligaments, tendons, artery etc, everything got ‘broken’. I was driven to Chorrera to the local hospital, but since there was no qualified doctor there, I was sent on to Santo Tomas in Panama City. At the emergency room I was taken care of by an intern, Ariel Saldaña. “luxación de rodilla izquierda con lesion a la arteria poplitia” I was operated on that night, no easy situation, as my parents were up in the Chiriquí and my dorm dad had to sign all the forms presented by the hospital before surgery could commence. I was ‘put back together’ and my left leg was put into a cast to keep the knee stabilized and in place. The ligaments in my left knee, the cruciates and laterals were all completely useless.

knee

A few days later my knee got out of joint again – despite the cast. I was once again taken for surgery – but this time I had an external fixator put on my knee – six titanium screws (very long) in the bones and then a rod between them to keep my knee in place. I wore this for six weeks or so before it was surgically removed.

This was a ‘big deal’ at the hospital as they did not have the necessary equipment with which to do the necessary surgery. Help was given by a doctor from Gorgas, a military doctor. I was not an American citizen so was not permitted to go to Gorgas for treatment.   Instead, Surgical instruments and knowledge was given to the team of doctors that would be operating. From what I understand there were more than the normal number of surgeons present for the procedures. Unfortunately, I do not remember numbers or many of the names. The first names are from the orthopaedic team, the last couple are from cardio-vascular.

Gustavo Pinilla (can be found at Centro de Ortopedia y Medicina Deportiva, S.A.; Centro Especializado San Fernando; Teléfonos 229-4026 / Telefax 229-7522 ; Consultorios Punta Pacífica; Teléfonos 204-8387 / Telefax 204-8388)

Ariel Saldaña padre

Ariel Saldaña hijo (the intern, NOW a well known Dr in his own right in Panama)

Daniel Lozano, in charge of my care

Norberto Donoso Collins

Dr. Monge

This was written by my younger sister and a friend at the boarding school and put into the school ‘paper’ that was then sent to the families of all the parents in Panama.

kerry lou article

After I was released from hospital I was put back into school at EHM and was lent an exer-cycle for physiotherapy. I did not see a proper physiotherapist or get any other qualified help (not other than the couple of times while I was actually in the hospital). I had appointments with the doctor in charge of my care a few times after my release. But these were not for my knee or other aspects of my health.

After the external fixator was removed from my leg the doctor in charge of my care – Daniel Lozano (51) – took me to a place called Campo Amor out on the way to Tocumen. “My Dr”. This is the man that sang outside the ward to make me smile, who promised me that I would be ok (though it later turned out that I could have – OR should have! – died several times along the way). I should not have turned 16. This man was given permission by my mother to take me for a drive down to Balboa, to Panama Viejo to cheer me up. I had spent the best part of three months in the hospital, in a ward of 20 or so women, with little or no privacy. Of course, I was very happy to get out of the hospital, overjoyed. I had been a very active teen and to be stuck in a bed and not being able to even walk was killing me. Anyway, we drove past the sights and then he took me to Campo Amor and raped me.

KL1

I still remember these huge garage doors that shut behind your car when you drove in. No one sees or knows who, what or why. No questions asked. Just pay at the little window inside.

I did not get out of the car. I locked the doors. I was afraid, terrified. This was danger!!! Of course, the doctor unlocked the car doors – he had the car keys in his hand. He forced me out of the car – not violently, but nonetheless. I was pushed into the small motel room; Bed on the right, shower + toilet on the left TV and mirrors in the room. I was told to undress. I didn’t. I was then forced to undress. Still no violence, but I was forced.

No, I did not scream, or yell. I realized quickly while still in the car that there was NO way out. No door out, no one that would hear me. I did not fight him. It would not have made any difference… I was terrified. I had just survived an accident that should have killed me – all I wanted to do was live. “I won’t hurt you” That is what he said before he violated me.

Yes, I was 15 years old, legally permitted to have sex in a foreign country, but not of legal age in mine. But I did not want this. I did not ask for this. I was promised all sorts of things, a job as soon as I had finished high school, gifts, and toys for my kid brother etc. (we had already been given things at Christmas by the doctor). I was still an IN-patient of the hospital on this day: January 16th 1987.


In Panama, the age of consent is 18.

Laws regarding persons aged between 14 and 18:

Article 215 appears to prohibit sexual acts with minors:

Article 215 C: “He who maltreats a minor shall be sanctioned with imprisonment from one to six years. The following conducts typify maltreatment of minors: (…) 2) Committing, inducing or helping to commit sexual abuse against him, or other lustful or lewd acts, even though they do not imply carnal access

Article 226 deals with the “corruption” of minors and prohibits sexual acts with persons younger than 18 (although it is not clear if this article prohibits such sex acts per se or only if the victim was “corrupted”):

“Article 226: “He who corrupts or facilitates the corruption of a person under 18 years of age, practicing with her a lewd act or inducing her to practice or view it, shall be sanctioned with imprisonment of two to four years”.

Another article, Article 219, prohibits consensual sex acts with a “maiden woman, over 14 years old and under 18” (probably understood to mean a virgin girl aged 14–18):

Article 219: “He who has carnal access to a maiden woman, over 14 years old and under 18, with her consent, shall be sanctioned with prison of one to three years. If a marriage promise is involved, or if the deed is committed by a relative, a minister of a cult that the victim professes a tutor, teacher or person in charge, by means of any title, of the education, safe keeping or upbringing of the victim, the penalty can be increased up to twice the amount”.

In regard to the Article 219, the action or penalty is to be extinguished if the author and the assaulted person are to be married; this is stipulated by Article 225.

Laws regarding persons younger than 14:

Article 216: “He who has sexual access with persons of either sex, utilizing his genital organs or other parts of his body, or introducing any object in the genitals, mouth or anus of the victim, shall be sanctioned with imprisonment from three to ten years in the following cases: 1) When violence or intimidation is used; 2) When the assaulted person is deprived of reason or of sense or when due to physical or mental sickness or for any other cause she cannot resist; 3) When the victim is arrested or imprisoned and entrusted to the guilty party to supervise her or take her from one place to another; and 4) With a person of either sex that is not 14 years old, even though none of the circumstances expressed previously apply.”

Article 220: “He who with the purpose of achieving carnal access executes libidinous acts in prejudice of a person of either sex, by means of violence or intimidation, or when the victim is not 14 years old or cannot resist, shall be sanctioned with imprisonment of three to six years. The sanction can be increased by one third to half, if any one of the circumstances established in the second paragraph or Article 219 occur.”

Not long after this I was released. I remember my mother, the doctor and I going out for lunch at some quaint little restaurant. Sangria was served with the meal. I remember ‘playing footsies’ with the doctor who sat opposite me at the table. I remember him having my foot in his lap. I also remember a comment about ‘having a chaperone’.

After leaving the hospital, I was given a date to come back for a check-up in about a month. The person who went with me this time was told to sit in the reception and wait there. The doctor drove me to his private practice a few streets away and once again raped me – this time on the floor of his office. There was only a thin sheet between me and the floor. My mind went to far away places; I had no reason to do anything. I was already tainted, spoiled, ruined. My life had lost value the day I had my accident, it lost even more the day I was raped by the doctor. I had no reason left to live. All that I valued was taken from me.

Again another month or so passed. We are in March 1987. This time I said no. I did not let him touch me. And he did not. See, he was so smart that he told me about pregnancy prevention. By counting the days since your last menstruation you can work out when the chance/risk of pregnancy is greatest -> 12-17 days after the first day of your period. I still have that in my backbone! L On the other hand he had also said that if I should get pregnant that he would fix it – pay for an abortion etc. And no one would ever know.

Now for April and my 16th birthday on the 11th came and I was permitted to travel up to the Chiriquí and have my birthday at my parent’s house together with my sister who was at the school. We had my party. All my local friends came. On the 16th of April the rest of my family was at a meeting at the church, and I stayed home. A young man I knew came by and under the pretences of looking at a co-worker’s car – he had been asked to buy spare parts for the car. In the darkness of that garage stood this young man wanting sex and I did not care any more, at all!! I knew that I could get pregnant that week. I did not care about that either. I could get pregnant and thus get out of being raped by the doctor, might have to marry this young man – but he was of a good family in the town OR nothing would happen and it would be easier to say no to the doctor should he try again.

In May I had another appointment. But I could not say no to the doctor. Again, He drove me to his private practice office and raped me a third time…

We returned to the hospital again and I had to have x-rays done. Since having missed my period in early May I had to tell someone. I told my best friend at school. She got my mother and we told her… I do not remember much other than the room we sat in. Then having to go into the city to have a blood test done to see if I really was pregnant, and a visit to a gynaecologist to be checked physically… The experience was horrific. Not just being so close to death a few months earlier, and somehow subconsciously knowing that, but also the physical and emotional (add then sexual) mutilation that I suffered by being raped and then being put thru this physical examination. I felt like I was being raped again.

My best friend and I got in a great deal of trouble. She was accused of being my accomplice – I confided in her that I wanted to hitch a ride up to Costa Rica as I had friends up by the border. I got suspended from school and was then kicked out. She got 2 weeks suspension, I think.

I was treated badly. I did the end of year exams from the house we were living in. My mother had to sit and make sure I did not cheat. On my Science test I got a 79%, only to find out later that everyone else was given it as an ‘open book’ test. But not me, I got my grade from what I remembered. A classmate complained and was told to leave it be, I did not deserve that help on the test. (This is just an example of my treatment by the school.) The teacher of that class was William Bacchus.

We were sent back to New Zealand in disgrace. I was fully to blame. It had come forward that I had kissed a boy and had a boyfriend. So, obviously getting pregnant must have been done of my own free will. Not a single word was said about being raped by the doctor.

I remember sitting in the office where the field committee pronounced their judgement over me. I was a slut, promiscuous. They spoke ‘over my head’, not to me, but about me. I was not given any chance to speak up for myself or explain. Present in the room (that I remember): Bryan Copeland, Harry Huddleston, Bruce Haste, my parents and I. (I have a vague memory that Joe Goodman and Brian Simmons were on the field committee then and would have also been present.) I have been told that Don Barger was representative for the work in the Chiriquí but was on furlough when this happened.

I have since found out that Bruce Haste “grilled me” and I told him about the rape. I do NOT remember this myself. My mother told me of it recently. I also had confirmed the “advise” given to my father about not doing anything about my rape as the Dr had friends in high places.

The boy that I kissed: Ignacio Montezuma Montero Haste

1980-1981

He was several years older than me. We used to live as neighbours. In the house we lived in (with an older single lady, Charlotte Teubner), there was a tiny book room. In this room Charlotte kept her Bibles, song books etc for the Guaymi (indigenous people) that came to the base. In this room Ignacio used to kiss me and  fondle me. Most of the time he wanted to stand behind me and push himself up against my buttocks. He was always sexually aroused. I cannot have been more than about 10 years old. They were building our family a house when we got back from a furlough in the UK-Australia-New Zealand.  I do not remember if we had started at the boarding school yet – I do remember being home-schooled in the big living room in this house. So, I am guessing 1980- 1981. I wish I remembered more clearly when. Nor do I remember how long this went on. My younger sister and I started at boarding school and only came back to our parent’s home for summer holidays and Christmas.

Stepping in to 1983/84

“There is one other incident that happened in the dorm of sexual nature while I was at the boarding school. It would have been in 83-84 (?) I think. Our dorm parent’s daughter had a couple of horses and one of the older boys and I used to ride them so that they got exercise. This boy, Brian Grindstaff, started to touch me and fondle me on these excursions. It then became something that he did whenever he could get me off alone with him. It became unbearable and I did not know how to get out of this situation. I told the girl who had the horses one day and she told her parents. The boy was severely punished for what he had done.

My boyfriend: Raúl Antonio Santamaria, hijo (son)

When my family moved up to Tolé, I became friends with a neighbouring family. Their son was a year older than me but was my best friend. We did everything together. Yes, he did kiss me on occasion. He and I had plenty of opportunities as young teens to do whatever we wanted but we did not. I refused to. I told him that a stolen kiss is one thing but that any more than that had to wait till we were married. I honestly imagined myself marrying him as soon as I was 18 years old. I loved him. He loved me. But we had a mutual respect that few ever understood. In the wake of my accident I did not see him for months. He came down to the city to see me in hospital but could not do it. He could not face seeing me so messed up. He did not come by at Christmas either for the few days that I was allowed to be at home with my leg in the external fixator etc. I did not see him at my 16th birthday either – he was at school in Santiago de Veraguas.

I heard via the jungle telegraph that I was spoken of as ‘the pregnant girl from Panama’ from a classmate on furlough in the US.

I had my baby, a little girl, on January 20th 1988. I then gave her up for adoption – a couple that were related to a good friend of my father could not have children. It is an ‘open adoption’ so I have had contact with her all along. She just turned 25 a couple of weeks ago.

I have not named her father previously – Vicente Tuñon Marrone – my family know who he is well. But he did not mean much to me then, much less now.

  **********

I left New Zealand 1990. I moved to Sweden to work as a nanny (anything to get away from my family). A year later I married the Swedish boy I had met and we had two kids. But because of his continued abuse that ended in 1999. I re-bounded into a second marriage in 2000, had two more kids, but that only lasted until 2005 when this man committed suicide. Both of these men abused me. I did not deserve better. I wanted to kill myself innumerable times along the way. I saw no way out of the hell that I had been put into, and no one cared. No one fought for me, protected me, or stood up for me.

In 2004 my daughter, that I had given up in adoption, came to visit me in Sweden –I paid for her to come. She was here for her youngest sibling’s birth. During her nearly two month long visit she told me that her family had had a boarder in their home who turned out to be my own mother’s closest friend. This lady told my daughter about all the “family secrets”, skeletons in the closet as you might say. One thing that came forward was the fact that my mother had planned on running off with “my doctor”, the man that raped me. This, to me, explained the comment about a chaperone.  [My mother now (June 2013) claims this is something that I have fantasized up… it is all in my head. She only ever felt “flattered” by the man. I beg to differ.]

I was never given proper medical treatment with regard to my injury. I was told when we got to New Zealand that my knee would have been fixed properly IF I had come back to NZ or the US straight away – waiting for months made it impossible to fix. I did not get physiotherapy until after we got to NZ and then had to take a break as I was having a baby. By the time I got back to physiotherapy 16 months had passed (at least!) from when I had the accident. I was not given a fair chance at recuperating the use of my muscles etc in my leg with qualified therapists.

I found out in 2010 that my parents had been sent a letter from New Tribes Mission Australia (now Crossview) with a sort of apology for the way in which they were sent home. I have NOT seen anything of that sort personally. In 2010 my parents visited Sanford Florida and met with several of the former leaders from when our family was stationed in Panama. Apparently my parents were asked if there was anything they wanted passed on to the present executive committee regarding the things that happened in 1986-7. They said no. When I was told this I reacted strongly and my mother then sent an email to Don Barger stating that they were not happy with the way I was treated – I was not told how detailed that was, or what exactly was said. I have not heard from NTM yet.

My father told me last year that they were not permitted to press charges against the doctor or the likes. New Tribes Mission’s excuse was that they did not want to come up against a man who had friends in high places as the entire mission could be kicked out of Panama.  This is very hurtful since it shows that I am not worth much in NTM’s eyes.

In August 2012 I was in Florida to be interviewed by PII, part of the IHART investigation into abuses in NTM worldwide. I spoke with Anne Kulinsky, Bob Davis and Linda Davis from 9 am to after 5 pm that day, with a short lunch break mid-day. They have transcripts of all that was said. Obviously that meeting was more emotional than what this is (I am trying to be objective and just put the facts – not all the feelings- that pertain to this).

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