- The Living Nightmare - Quanitta Underwood: A Contender for Olympic Gold and a Survivor
- Big sexual abuse racket suspected at orphanage
- Orphanage management denies sexual abuse charge
The Living Nightmare - Quanitta Underwood: A Contender for Olympic Gold and a Survivor By BARRY BEARAK February 11, 2012
THE TWO SISTERS shared a bed, and each night, with their hearts hammering, they would listen for the turn of the knob and the push of the door. Quanitta Underwood was 10, her sister Hazzauna, 12. The walls of the house were thin, and the girls could hear every move their father made. Hear him sit up, hear him get out of bed, hear him walking their way.
Quanitta pinched her eyes shut when her father entered the room, but she could imagine the presence of his familiar silhouette. She felt his weight sink into the bed while his hands traveled beneath the covers. As Quanitta feigned sleep, her father groped her sister and often rolled on top.
Azzad Underwood was a forceful man, not so much in size as in manner. He was a welder by trade but gave way to few men in self-importance. He could be charming. He had been president of the parents association at the girls’ school and was among the most active members at a local Church of God in Christ....
The most important thing, Quanitta told herself, was never to let on that she knew, for this was a secret surely meant to be hidden in the dark. So she lay motionless in the bed, breathing gently through a sleeping face. Sometimes, her father pushed her aside, and she drowsily flopped over....
“I remember the first time ever; he held me down,” Hazzauna said. “It was rape. There’s no other word for it. Every time after that, it seemed he purposely did it in the room with my sister, because he knew that if I moved or screamed, she was right there and it would wake her up.”....
Hazzauna has a family of her own now, and she too works as a nurse in Las Cruces. In college, she studied child abuse, the methodologies of molesters and the horrid frequency with which molestation occurs. And while she said she now found it “empowering” to talk of what happened, tears seeped from her eyes as she revisited the memories: Azzad was her demon and her father, a man callously conniving and yet strangely pitiable.
She recalled, “On multiple occasions, he would cry like a baby, saying, ‘I’m sorry. I want to stop but just give me an amount of time.’ ”
Her father bribed her with clothes and other gifts. He threw her an expensive birthday party at a skating rink. He persuaded her to take up modeling, escorting her to competitions, where they shared a room in a hotel....
Quanitta said she was in the seventh grade when Azzad began to molest her, always taking advantage of a time when neither his wife nor Hazzauna was at home. “I would lock my arms and squeeze my legs tight,” she said, describing efforts to constrain what her father could do.
Both sisters fantasized about escape. Hazzauna hoped to one day go to college in Washington. Quanitta had darker ideas. She thought about hurting Azzad — “using a knife or something” — then running away.
What neither did was confide in the other. But that changed in January 1998. The sisters were 13 and 15. Quanitta was terribly upset about something. Hazzauna already had suspicions. She finally asked the question. “Has he been touching you?” she said, and the scalding truth poured out. By then, the sisters were seldom in contact with their mother in Seattle. But they did have a number for the hospital where she worked. The things Hazzauna told Alonna were dumfounding. “How long has he been doing this?” the girls’ mother recalled asking.
“Forever,” Hazzauna answered. The police arrived at the Underwood home within an hour. This time, the girls were willing to tell the truth....
Azzad pleaded guilty to “criminal sexual conduct with a minor.” He was sentenced to seven years in prison and five years of probation. The penalty could have been stiffer. The judge asked various people to speak in court. Hazzauna and Quanitta said they did not want their dad to go to jail....
Azzad’s sentence was cut to six years, and he left prison in August 2005....interviewed....His answers were often spare, a nod followed by “O.K.” or “no comment.” He refused to discuss the molesting of his daughters but made no effort to deny it. Being arrested was a relief, he said: “I was struggling between two forces. I wanted to do right but instead I did wrong. That’s it in a nutshell.”
Then Azzad amended the thought. It’s more complicated than that, he said. The counselors in prison made him aware of how the mind creates justifications to tolerate its own misdeeds. “When you do things for a long time that you know to be wrong, you come to think that it’s right,” he said....
Aberrant behavior may have detectable roots. When he was a boy, Azzad said, he delivered newspapers, and a man on his route abused him, “sexually, repeatedly.” A second cousin had also molested him.
But he said he was not mentioning these traumas as an excuse: “Whether that was a contributing factor, I still need to be held accountable.”
Big sexual abuse racket suspected at orphanage
Staff Reporter NEW DELHI, February 13, 2012
The boy apprehended a couple of days ago for allegedly sexually abusing a girl inmate of an orphanage in Darya Ganj here, who died under mysterious circumstances last December, has also been booked for purportedly sodomising a boy inmate inside the orphanage premises about six months ago. Several other inmates of the orphanage too are suspected to have been sexually abused in the past....
Stating that the orphanage staff seemed to have threatened the boys and girls against revealing anything to the police or the NGO members, the officer said they did not cooperate and later even prevented the NGO representatives from interviewing the children claiming that they could do so as they were not registered under the Juvenile Justice Act.
....Alleging that sexual abuse of boys was rampant, the report quoted a boy as saying that those living in the hostel were sodomised by older boys and the warden. Himself a victim, the boy disclosed names of some others who were being sodomised.
The victim alleged that once when he complained to the chief warden that the warden had been sexually abusing a boy, he was beaten up badly. The NGO team met some other boys who made shocking revelations of sexual abuse.
The team recorded several other instances of physical torture, molestation and eve-teasing of children, who lived under the constant terror of being victimised by certain orphanage staffers.
Orphanage management denies sexual abuse charge
Staff Reporter NEW DELHI, February 14, 2012
The Arya Orphanage, in which several small children are suspected to have been sexually abused and sodomised by boys and even the staff members, have denied all allegations of sexual abuse and alleged that the entire issue is a conspiracy being perpetuated by local politicians....
He also termed the entire incident a conspiracy of two MLAs whom he had refused favours. “There is this MLA who asked us to give the front portion of the orphanage land, we refused that is why he is doing this,” said Viresh Pratap Chaudhry, president of the Foundation that runs the orphanage, refusing to reveal the name of the MLA....
The incident first came to light when an 11-year-old girl in the orphanage died under mysterious circumstances and the post-mortem report revealed that she had been raped and sodomised. A 14-year old boy in the same orphanage was apprehended by the police for the crime along with charges of sodomising another minor boy.