Excerpts from Angela’s Story
Note to the Reader
This book is a true story. Its primary sources are case files. With the exception of Jeremy Barney, the names of all minors have been changed. The names of certain adult witnesses and identifying details have also been changed when necessary, and only when such changes would not compromise the integrity of the information. The last name of the family at the heart of this novel has been changed to Family _X_ in order to protect the three _X_ children.
The majority of this novel is derived from reports by the Connecticut (CT) Department of Children and Families (DCF) personnel; reports by medical doctor D. McIntosh and forensic pediatrician E. Kavle; forensic child-interview reports by the Child Abuse Investigation Team of Northwest CT (CAIT); reports by CT State Police, Troop-B, Western District Major Crimes; reports by Washington (WA) State Police; a pre-sentencing report prepared by the CT Office of Adult Probation, for Litchfield Superior Court Judge Robert Brunetti; statements made to media by Senior Assistant State’s Attorney James C. Fletcher; interviews with Jeremy Barney and his family; and the affidavits and statements made before detectives, doctors, therapists, social workers, or in court, by Family _X_.
I am both the author of this true-crime novel and a “character” within its pages. As a character I am a minor one, who does not appear until late in the story, after hundreds of other adults and children are involved. Among them is my sister’s son, Jeremy Barney, who was arrested at age seventeen, incarcerated for a year and half awaiting trial, and in June 2005 was sentenced to twenty years in prison.
My minor character does little to advance the plot of the novel, with the notable exception of forwarding the name of an attorney who turns out to be grossly incompetent. Most of my character’s actions can be omitted with no effect: he attends court hearings and makes illegible notes; he sobs; he is powerless as the story hurtles towards its “end.”
As the author, I put “character” and “end” in quotation marks because this story, like all true stories, has no characters, only human beings — and it has no end, only the possibility of new chapters.
Eight-year-old Angela _X_ had a story to tell.
It was a story about her older brother, Carson _X_.
He was thirteen.
They were doing s-e-x.
It was a short story.
It was not very exciting.
But it was Angela’s story.
And it was true.
On the morning of November 5, 2003, Angela and her little brother, seven-year-old Jesse _X_, were the subjects of individual forensic interviews conducted by a multidisciplinary team of child sexual abuse investigators including social workers and state police.
Jesse disclosed no information regarding incest, but Angela detailed numerous sexual acts with Carson, most of which occurred in their parents’ bedroom.
Angela wasn’t really supposed to be talking about her big brother or her parents, but it kind of came out anyway. The interviewer was a nice lady who was good at listening, and she’d taken Angela to a special room that was just for telling secrets.
Angela did not use the word incest.
Nor did she use abuse, assault, or rape.
There were many words she had yet to learn.
S-e-x, however, she understood.
“Do you know what s-e-x is?” asked the nice lady.
“It’s supposed to be a way you show your love with another person,” said Angela. “It’s kind, and it’s supposed to be nice.”
When she was seven, her mother explained the mechanics of heterosexual intercourse.
Angela had since learned to perform a variety of acts, most of them to please her big brother, who was always wanting to show his love.
Carson liked her to use her hands and mouth on his “private.”
Sometimes he’d use his hands and mouth on her private.
Other times he’d masturbate in her face. “Making me lick his balls,” said Angela. “And all that.”
She tried her best to find the correct words.
Her big brother liked to “rub” his private against her “flaps.”
By flaps she meant her labia — commonly called vaginal lips.
She demonstrated through pantomime.
“This is Carson’s private,” she said, extending her index finger.
With her other hand, she made the shape of a V — “And this is the flaps that open.”
She placed her finger-penis against her hand-vagina. “He’d do this,” she said. “And then he’d rub it up and down.”
“Who was there,” asked the nice lady, “when Carson did that to you?”
“Nobody,” said Angela. “Because I was being babysat.”
“And who was babysitting you?”
“What did Carson say, when he did that stuff to you?”
“He said, I’ve fallen madly in love with you. And all that.”
Angela said she didn’t know exactly how often Carson rubbed his private against her flaps, but it was “lots of times.”
A medical examination by the the state’s forensic pediatrician indicated injuries consistent with Angela’s descriptions of the frequency and type of molestations. Her posterior fourchette — the lower area of her labia — was scarred.
“Can you draw your house for me?” asked the nice lady, handing Angela a blank sheet of paper.
“OK,” said Angela.
“You have a downstairs and an upstairs?”
“Can you show me what the downstairs looks like?”
“I’ll try,” said Angela. She was better with words than pictures. Nor did she have any experience with drawing floorplans, being eight years old, and despite her father working for an architectural firm. But she did as she was asked. She slid from the couch and knelt in front of the coffee-table. Staring at the blank paper before her, she began to visualize her house.
“There’s pencils and there’s markers,” said the nice lady. “Which would you rather use?”
“Pencil,” said Angela.
“Okay,” said the nice lady, handing her a pencil.
It took Angela only a few minutes to draw both the downstairs and the upstairs of her house, and to label all the rooms.
It wasn’t too difficult.
It was a very small house.
The nice lady watched and chatted with Angela as she drew. Together they clarified pictures and the placement of the rooms. Angela required assistance only with the spelling of laundry.
Downstairs was the kitchen, the dining room / living room, the bathroom / laundry room, and the playroom.
“This is where Carson’s bed is,” said Angela, pointing to her drawing of the playroom. “It’s, like, a high bed. With two shelves under it.”
“Carson has a bedroom downstairs?” asked the nice lady.
“Carson and Jesse, like, share a room,” Angela explained. “Carson has a room downstairs, and he always sleeps upstairs.”
“OK,” said the nice lady. “So, downstairs is a playroom, which is kind of Carson’s room? And then he also has a room upstairs with Jesse?”
“Yeah,” said Angela.
Carson’s sleeping habits were an issue. Jesse’s forensic medical examination, performed the day before the interviews, revealed anal and rectal trauma — as did Angela’s exam.
Angela drew the upstairs of her house: Mom’s and Dad’s bedroom, her brothers’ shared bedroom, and her own.
Angela’s and her brothers’ bedrooms had been partitioned from what had once been a larger room. Her brothers got the bigger half.
“And where’s the bathroom?” asked the nice lady.
“Um, my room has, like, a turn?” Angela narrated as she drew. “And here’s the door — and here’s the bathroom.”
It could be disorienting in the middle of the night, having to walk through someone else’s bedroom to get to the bathroom.
Along with pills for anxiety and pills for depression, Angela’s parents gave her pills to help her sleep.
The pills were a relatively new development. The anxiety and depression were not.
A year earlier, Angela began seeing a therapist, but after a few months the therapist switched the focus of counseling to Angela’s parents. It was good because her parents needed help. Her father was always yelling, and her mother was always crying. Unfortunately, the nights they went to therapy were also among the nights that Carson babysat.
Angela later visited the therapist a couple more times. The first was in the spring, when her Mom thought there was something wrong with Angela’s vagina. The second time was in the autumn — shortly before everyone found out what Carson was doing — because Angela was having a difficult time in school, and it had been decided that she was learning disabled.
After her therapist found out about Carson, Angela’s parents took her to someone new instead — a psychiatrist — someone who didn’t know all the family history and who, unlike Angela’s therapist, had a license to prescribe drugs.
At the time of her forensic interview, Angela was on Clonidine, Remeron, and Zoloft.
Just a couple days earlier, her mother also called a medical doctor, looking to get “sedatives” for Angela.
The doctor — whom child patients called “Dr. Bob” — would later tell detectives that he was unaware as to which drugs ultimately had been prescribed, or their dosage.
It was an odd statement.
Detectives also learned that Dr. Bob wasn’t actually a doctor, but a nurse.
“Can you tell me,” the nice lady asked, “about the very first time that Carson did something to you?”
“Mmm,” said Angela. “I can’t remember.”
“Can you tell me about one of the times you do remember?”
Angela really wasn’t supposed to be talking about this stuff.
And she’d already said too much.
“Mostly it was on Mom’s and Dad’s bed,” she offered.
“Okay,” said the nice lady.
Carson preferred to do it in their parents’ bedroom. That’s where the sex toys were, and the magazines, and all the stuff on the computer.
The computer was for the whole family to share, but Mom and Dad kept it in their bedroom.
It was convenient for Carson because he liked to look at porn with Angela before they got naked on their parents’ bed.
The nice lady wanted to know what sort of images, specifically, Angela had seen.
“Sex,” said Angela.
“Sex with who?”
“Mmm, like, all these people.”
“Were they grown-up people or kid people?”
“Were they boy people or girl people?”
“And they would be having sex in the pictures?”
The porn featured images of adults only, but the sex in her parents’ bedroom mostly involved children.
Not just the siblings.
Kids from the neighborhood.
In a variety of age and gender combinations.
Boy on boy. Boy on girl. Girl on girl.
Carson, for example, had frequent oral and anal sex with a highschool boy, and Angela engaged in manual stimulation with a girl who lived up the street and was, like Angela, eight years old.
Angela’s parents thought Carson’s boyfriend’s parents were too strict, so he had a standing invitation to sleep there whenever he needed to get away from home.
Angela’s girlfriend was also welcome to visit any time she liked — or when the little girl’s parents needed Carson to babysit.
She and Angela would get on the master bed and look at porn and touch each other’s privates.
“What did you touch each other’s privates with?”
“Just hands?” the nice lady repeated, to make sure.
“Yeah,” said Angela. “It wasn’t very fun.”
Carson wanted sex a lot.
With kids from the neighborhood, he’d pretend that he wanted to play House — then move quickly to the part where Mommy and Daddy go to bed.
Neighbor kids could run back to their real house.
For Angela, there was no difference.
He told Angela that he loved her “and all that,” but she was just convenient. After school, nighttime, weekends — she was always around.
Angela’s and Jesse’s forensic interviews were organized by the Child Abuse Investigation Team of Northwestern Connecticut (CAIT), operating out of the Center for Youth and Families in Torrington, Connecticut. The interviews were conducted by a social worker and were videotaped behind a one-way mirror by a camera in an adjoining observation room. Present in the observation room were detectives from the Major Crimes Division of the Connecticut State Police, supervising social workers from CAIT and the Department of Children and Families, and a college intern.
Following the interviews, CAIT prepared its Forensic Report, which paraphrased the children’s interviews in unambiguous, easy-to-read summaries.
The children’s medical examinations, which had been performed the previous day, were summarized by CAIT in a single note: positive for sexual assault.
CAIT Forensic Report
Jesse is seven years old. He attends Sharon Center School and is in the first grade.
Angela is eight years old. She also attends Sharon Center School and is in the third grade. She was recently diagnosed with a learning disability in math and is receiving services for this disability.
Angela was seeing a therapist; however, Angela’s mother reports that the therapist stated she could not meet Angela’s needs at this time.
Angela also saw a psychiatrist. Currently she is taking 75 mg of Zoloft and 50mg of Remeron.
Angela and Jesse were brought to the interview by their parents, Jeff _X_ and Julie _X_.
Jeff is a Project Manager for an architectural firm.
Julie is the After-School Enrichment Director at Sharon Center.
READ CHAPTER 2: