People who investigate the business like our organization also knew in advance that a death which occurred around 1982 properly was the result of violence inflicted in the so-called therapeutic boxing ring.
But the problem has been that the authorities never wanted to release any records, they never really wanted to conduct a throughout investigation. Elan School was a convenient dumping place for troubled youth. It was a place where the authorities sent unwanted children to and where they could be kept quiet until they became broken adults who would end their lives prematurely as too many of the former students have done. The suicide rate among former students are alarming high.
It seems that every country needs such a dumping place. In Denmark it was called Solhaven and it was only because some brave police officers finally ignored the cries for local labor and the business caused by housing a larger company in a remote neighborhood where every job-position is welcome, that Solhaven was stopped. The juridical system is complex so no conviction came out of it but the business was shut down and while they might want to reopen they will never grow to the size before the closure.
Poland in Maine also needed the jobs and when Joseph Ricci created the school, eyes were closed. They continued to be close for almost the entire time Elan School was open. Joseph Ricci who came with no education into taking care of teenagers with often complex disorders took care of a problem for the state and for that they shielded him from proper investigation into what went on at this business.
Maybe the investigation into the 1982 death of Philip Williams Jr. might provide the public a clearer picture of what when down at Elan School? It is properly too late to bring any of the former employees and management to justice. As we learned in Denmark the court system can be complex and a huge lawsuit against the people behind the infamous WWASP organization in the United States which got schools closed down in several states and countries came to nothing. But it really doesn't matter. It is about learning from the past. The troubled teen industry which boomed as result of the 3-strike laws introduced in the 1990's which scared many parents to seek residential treatment for even minor things like alcohol consumption or poor grades left many teenagers with emotional scars which might never heal.
The future must learn the damage Elan School and similar places caused in order to prevent new places from opening if the society ever might focus on over-controlling the difficult transition from childhood to adulthood again.
We urge the authorities to open their records so the truth of the past can be learned.
- His family asks: What really happened to Phil at the Elan School? (Maine Sun Journal)
- Factsheet of the school (Fornits Wiki)