Patsy loved playing bingo every Wednesday night. Her boyfriend of three years loved watching her daughter Jenna who was a tiny and pretty six-year-old her momma called “princess.”
Even though they weren’t related, Jenna called Patsy’s boyfriend “Uncle Billy” at her mother’s behest.
And Uncle Billy made Jenna shyer and quieter than she usually was. He’d walk in on those Wednesday nights and demand a big hug and kiss on the cheek from Jenna — she would always obey.
Bingo usually kept Pasty away for two hours. And one night when she came home, she knew that something was wrong.
Billy was sitting in the dark with a half-empty glass of whiskey and an ashtray full of cigarettes. She went to make sure her princess was tucked in and to give her a goodnight kiss. But there was blood on Jenna’s sheets with her dolls and teddy bears strewn about on the floor. That beautiful blonde hair was in disarray. Patsy shook Jenna, but there wasn’t movement.
A frantic 911 call ensued.
Billy sat silently as Patsy screamed at him. He just took a drag of his tenth cigarette.
Sirens blared and the radio dispatched “code 600.”
We cleared the small ED room for security and privacy. A police officer and sheriff showed up with a social worker. That’s how we knew this was sexual assault. Was it another teenager, a girlfriend or wife?
But we not prepared for the sight of a beautiful little girl laying out on a stretcher. She was almost catatonic and wouldn’t speak and barely moved.
I took her temperature, brushed through her hair for any evidence, and I saw the bruises on her arms and thighs. Her vaginal area was red and bruised. I was horrified and angry. I noticed something else — her eyes. Black as coal.
It was as if someone had sucked the life out of her or reached in and grabbed her soul. Those coal-black, empty eyes were void of any emotion.
A social worker was present and privately asked the mother questions. Billy had already been questioned.
The physician and I did fingernail scrapings, the MD did a vaginal exam, searching for evidence, searching for sperm. We completed the rape kit, secured the evidence and handed it over to the sheriff.
Little Jenna was taken away by the social service lady to an undisclosed foster care home for her protection.
Months later, the physician and I were served deposition papers. We had to go to court and testify that the evidence never left our hands — that it went from me to MD to sheriff. Chain of command. Chain of evidence.
I was nervous, but I wanted this man locked up forever.
Billy ended up in jail for eight months. He got out of jail for “good behavior.”
I never saw Jenna again. I always wondered what happened to her. Did she get therapy? Did she get love and protection? Did she lead a stable life?
I’ll never know.
That was in 1983, and I am still haunted by those hollow black eyes that lost a twinkle that all little six-year-old girls should have.
Debbie Moore-Black is a nurse who blogs at Do Not Resuscitate.
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