No One Can Hurt Him Anymore by
Rothgeb C J & Cupp S H
pbk out May 05
(Little Brown Co.)
The evil stepmother doesn't just exist in fairytales, as this harrowing book
delineates. It tells the true story of a little boy called Andrew Joseph - or
A.J. - who was sent to live with his natural father, David Schwarz, and
second wife Jessica.
Andrew was a loving child whose teacher adored him. The neighbours
also liked him and would give him food and shelter when it was obvious
that he was hungry and cold. They repeatedly called social services when
they heard Jessica Schwarz hitting and demeaning him - but the
protective agencies decided that the abuse allegations were unfounded
and one social worker told a neighbour that they'd remove her children if
she called to complain again.
No One Can Hurt Him Anymore examines this textbook case of how a
parent or step parent can demonise one child in a family. Jessica Schwarz
gave her two daughters a lift to school, yet made A.J. walk the same
journey. She fed the girls well yet often put A.J.'s. plate next to the cat
litter tray. She made him wear a T-shirt to school on which she'd written
`I'm A Worthless Piece Of Shit - Don't Talk To Me' and she shouted
similar demeaning phrases at him several times a day.
Unsurprisingly, the nine year old began to have nightmares, wet the bed
and became increasingly withdrawn. And, as is usual in these cases,
numerous so-called professionals banded together to decide how they
could make Andrew try harder to fit in with his dysfunctional family.
Even when one of Jessica Schwarz's assaults left Andrew with two black
eyes and a dislocated nose, these professionals chose to accept her
explanation that he'd hit his head on the handlebars of his sister's bike.
Yet neighbours had heard one of Jessica's daughters reminding A.J. not
to tell the truth about the real source of his injuries...
The abuse continued until police were called to the Schwarz's Florida
home early one morning in May 1993 where A.J.'s naked corpse had
been found in the backyard pool. It was immediately evident that he had
head injuries and was covered in bruises, some made within the past five
hours. It looked as if he had been battered almost to death then thrown
unconscious into the water or held under until he drowned.
David Schwarz (who admitted beating his son with a belt) was distraught
but Jessica showed no emotion. She remained emotionless when she was
brought to trial and sentenced to seventy years.
This is a well written, intelligent and important book, yet numerous true
crime publishers turned it down stating that child abuse is just too painful
a subject. As Scott H Cupp (the prosecutor who convicted Jessica
Schwarz) states `maybe it touches something in us that we lack the
courage to think about and speak about.'
But if we don't think and speak about it, nothing will change and children
will remain with cruel and demeaning carers. Thankfully Rothgeb &
Cupp persevered with their mission and have produced a fitting epitaph to
A.J. and an opus which emphasises the rights of the child.