I have two items today which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them. As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."
Frankly, I did not expect to be sharing this story of grudgingness today. I try to find outrages that go under the radar, as it were, and, although this is a followup to an earlier story you may remember, I still expected it to be picked up by other sites and get a lot of publicity. I was wrong. I find that sad.
"Please accept our condolences on your loss,” explained a letter from the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority of New Jersey. “After careful consideration of the information you provided, the authority has determined that your request does not meet the threshold for loan forgiveness. Monthly bill statements will continue to be sent to you.”
The recipient of this letter received no direct benefit from the loan in question, and indeed, no indirect benefit, such as being related to someone who has increased earning power, which sometimes comes to those who graduate from college. The student, the borrower, was her son. And he was murdered last year.
The loans were not Federal loans. The Federal Government has provisions to give some relief to borrowers who experience life-changing circumstances – such as losing a job. Wken non-Hodgkins lymphoma survivor Chris Gonzales was laid off by Goldman Sachs, the Federal Government suspended his federal student loan payments. However, he had also received some loan funds from New Jersey – which sued him and confiscated his state tax refund.
Marcia DeOliveira-Longinetti, the bereaved mother who received the letter quoted above, has been forced to make 18 monthly payments of $180 to the state. Only 92 to go.
Not every state administers its own student loan program (states that do not do administer their states' share in the Federal loan programs.) Two that do are New Jersey and Massachusetts. But, in Massachusetts, there is automatic debt forgiveness if the borrower dies or becomes disabled. New Jersey, on the other hand, goes aggressively after loan repayment regardless of the circumstances. And, since federal law does provide some possibility of relief, New Jersey pretty much stopped giving federal loans some years ago, substituting their own loans instead.
But New Jersey will sell students taking out loans life insurance! My, what a big heart! Knock yourself out, Megaera.
There is another story, this one of vengeful destruction, which needs to be told. THere is a church in Kansas where a volunteer in 2014 attempted to rape and electronically solicit two girls under fourteen who attended the church. Last year he pleaded guilty to these charges.
The volunteer, who was seventeen, at the time of the crime, had a string of past sexual conduct and crimes behind him, but was still allowed to be around children without supervision. On June 9 of this year, the girls and their families filed a lawsuit against the church, alleging that the church violated its own protocols, thereby allowing the assaults to occur.
Naturally, the church has filed a petition asking the court to require the victims and their parents to identify themselves publicly before the case can proceed.
Wait a minute, you are probably saying to yourself. What is this church? Westboro Baptist? That's in Kansas, right? Well, no, it isn't Westboro Baptist, though it is a Southern Baptist church. It's just creepily similar. Its name is Westside Family Church.
David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, has been a victim advocate for 28 years, and has never seen a petition like this before in a case involving children, and only occasionally when the victim(s) are adult. And children these victims still are. If they were under fourteen in 2014, they cannot now be older than sixteen.
Clohessy called the move "a shameful move by officials who profess to be 'Christians.'" I concur. Tisiphone, you know what to do.
(Note: the photo of mother and son shows the mother and son in the story. The photo of the girl is a stock photo from Shutterstock, which AlterNet picked to illustrate the narrative.)
The Furies and I will be back.
Cross-posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/3997742