Why No Justice for Henry?
Over 100 cases, many of which include multiple victims. Don't tell me it doesn't happen here because it is happening here, and frequently. Don't tell me that the Knox County Sheriff's office is unaware of the problem because if they are, then every single member of the department should be fired.
If you really want your stomach to start churning, look at the graphic on the next page which shows the conviction rate. Knox County has no convictions for the trafficking of minors.
Not one. Over 100 cases in two years and no convictions.
Are they even trying?
As I watch Katie fight for justice for her son, I can't help but wonder what makes his case so different? Why aren't the authorities interested in pursuing it? She's found several cases, (here's the most recent) from other Tennessee counties where people who gave drugs to young people in circumstances very similar to what happened to Henry were charged and successfully prosecuted. If small counties around Knoxville are able to do this, why can't they do it in Knox County?
Maybe they aren't really trying. That's a common explanation. After all, Katie was told to her face that Henry wasn't "an attractive victim," as if justice is delivered based on our appeal to the public rather than our inherent value as a human being. As nauseating as this attitude is, it is a real part of our legal system, but it shouldn't be, and as Katie's investigation continues, bringing more inconvenient facts to light, I don't think that attitude explains the willingness of the Knox County Sheriff's office to look so totally incompetent rather than investigate Henry's death more fully.
It's almost like they are afraid of what they might find.
There's an aspect to Henry's case that we don't talk about much, because it is very painful for Katie and her family, but it is this aspect that make's Henry's case different from the drug overdose deaths that have been successfully prosecuted elsewhere in Tennessee. According to Katie, Henry told her that Y and R not only sold/gave Henry drugs, including the methadone overdose that killed him, they prostituted him and other drug addicted young men. Now, without getting overly graphic, you can't sell unless somebody is buying, which means that there is a market in Knoxville for paid sex with young men, and apparently, two low life drug dealers supplied that market. And this brings up a new character in this story, one that nobody has discussed until now.
And that is the john. We don't know anything about them because so far, our law enforcement officials have shown no interest whatsoever in going after them.
Who are these men who are willing to pay for sex with drugged out boys? What price do they pay for sex with a strung out kid from the suburbs?. And more to the point, what would they do to keep from getting exposed as a pederast?
Let me pull on my tin foil hat and see where this line of speculation takes us. Let's see if it can make sense of the facts concerning the appallingly inept investigation of Henry's death.
First, who has the most to lose if Henry's case is investigated to the fullest?
Not the KCSO; they already look callous and incompetent. Any movement on the case at all can do nothing but make them look better. Same goes for the DA's office.
Not the dealers/pimps; given their activities, it's only a matter of time before they go down for something. Since they are well known to Knoxville's young drug users, surely they are well known to Knox County law enforcement as well. Eventually, whatever protection they currently have will fail, and they'll take a fall.
That brings us to the johns and they have a lot to lose. If the truth comes out about Y and R's pimping, and they get outed as a result of the investigation, not only does their participation in prostitution become public, they will be revealed not only as gay, but as potential pedophiles, depending on the age of the young men they bought and paid for. There will be publicity, and they could lose everything, their jobs, their families, and their position in the community. Remember what happened to Larry Craig; how much worse would this be? That's a lot to lose and I'll bet that they would do almost anything to avoid that possibility.
So what happens if one of the johns happens to hold a place of power and influence in Knox County? What happens if he gets a panicked call from his pimp one day, saying that a young man is overdosing in their trailer and if he doesn't do something to protect them, his name just might come to light in a very ugly manner. What would the john do? Would he stand by while everything he worked for stands on the brink of destruction? Or will he act to preserve it? Would he use his influence to make sure that the investigation is quietly written off as just another tragic overdose? Would he apply pressure to the investigator, maybe even vouching for the two pimps, pushing the idea that they were nothing more than "Good Samaritans" trying to help a young man in trouble?
Remember, this is all speculation, a simple fantasy, but if you were the investigator assigned, and you were told by an important person, maybe even one in your chain of command that this case needed to go away quietly, would you risk your career over a brain damaged junkie, no matter how much his mother begged you? Or would you go along to get along, tell yourself that while it was tragic, the kid was asking for trouble by using drugs anyway?
What would you do?
Again, this is all speculation, just trying to find a reasonable explanation for why a young man can be assaulted, badly beaten, drugged, and then allowed to lie on the floor in a trailer choking in his own vomit for hours, and the KCSO can't seem to find a crime anywhere in all of that.
It just doesn't add up. The pieces don't fit.
On the other hand, the idea of a powerful john using his influence to protect himself and squash the investigation, well, that does fit.
It's disgusting and heart breaking, but the pieces fit.
Justice Denied: Katie Granju Posts About a Horrendous Anniversary
The horror was hers; as her son Henry was dying following an assault and drug overdose he made a terrifying and heart rending confession:
My painfully shy teenage son, hospitalized for the previous 13 days had earlier that afternoon summoned every ounce of courage in his battered body and mind, and had revealed something horrible, dark and evil that had been done to him, and was likely still being done to other young people struggling with drug addiction.
Haltingly, through tears of terrible shame, but in graphic detail, my son Henry explained to me from his wheelchair that the two middle-aged drug dealers who had nearly succeeded in killing him were also dealing in teenage boys. Henry shared with me that these two people were preying on kids in Knox County who were sick and desperate, and were pimping them out to men.
They had done it to him.
Unbelievably, the story gets worse. When she went to the Knox County Sheriff's Office and the DA with the story, they did nothing.
That's the indifference.
Because Henry was a drug user who also sold drugs to support his habit, the KCSO and DA's office apparently doesn't care that he was severely assaulted at least once, given a lethal overdose of drugs, and prostituted by the people who gave him the overdose. They don't care that these people who did all this to Henry stood by for a period of hours, watching Henry's life slip away rather than calling for help.
The KCSO and the DA are not interested in pursuing this case, and the reason is simple as far as I'm concerned. They don't give a damn what happens to drug addicts. They think of them as somehow less than human, less worthy of their full efforts.
And you know what? There's a lot of people who agree with them. Read through the comments at Katie's place and see all the wonderful people of Knox County who believe that Henry's death was justified because he was a drug addict. Their comments are hateful, and often mean, and while I'm certain that the Knox County Sheriff and the DA would never sanction such comments publicly, their actions, or lack thereof, speak just as loudly as the comments of the comment worst troll.
You might even be one of those people. You might believe that anybody who sells drugs, whether they only sell to their friends to support their habit, or sell millions of dollars worth to finance the reconstruction of Market Square, deserves to die a horrible, lingering death. You might even call it justice.
You would be wrong.
The rule of law is based on two pillars, that no man is above the law's requirements, and that no man is beneath its notice. The commitment to those principles is what gives the rule of law its power, what sets it apart from the rule of men. We can place ourselves under the law willingly, knowing that we will be treated the same under that law, regardless of our status.
What happened to Henry was a crime, one specified as such in the Tennessee Code, and it should be treated accordingly, regardless of Henry's status as a drug dealer. To do otherwise would be to exchange the rule of law for the rule of man, giving our government the authority to treat people differently based on their status. And while that may be fine as long as we agree with their judgment of the relative worth of the victim, what happens when we don't?
What happens when the guys in charge decide that if you belong to the wrong political party, you aren't worthy of the full effort of law enforcement and the legal system? What happens if they decide that you are part of the wrong religion? Or let's get even closer to Henry's case. You're driving on the Interstate, doing 70mph in a 65 mph zone and you get hit bu a drunk driver, but the government declines to prosecute the drunk driver because you were speeding.
Does that make sense?
Not to me it doesn't.
Yes, Henry was a drug dealer. Yes, he broke the law. But that doesn't mean that he becomes fair game for any predator out there, just waiting to take advantage of a strung out kid. When we make a commitment to being a nation ruled by laws, it is people like Henry that test the level of our commitment. Everybody wants to see justice done for the attractive victim; that takes no effort or character at all. It's when the victim is not attractive that our true level of commitment is measured. That's when we prove that we are ruled by laws instead of our own prejudices.
In Knox County, our law enforcement and prosecution have demonstrated that their commitment to the law is shallow, and governed by their own prejudices, and that should be unacceptable.
Katie’s Quest Marches On
Since that post, Katie has been working hard gathering more clues about the events leading up to Henry's hospitalization and talking to pretty much anybody willing to listen. Her passion and persistence are paying off. Since my last post, she's been on several local radio and TV shows, and had a nationally televised interview on CNN, telling Henry's story. As a result, she now has two attorneys working to file civil actions related to Henry's case and the KCSO is finally beginning to show interest in the idea that there was more to the story than "just another overdose."
What makes Katie so compelling is that her passion begins with Henry, but it doesn't end there. She's discovering that she isn't just a voice for Henry, but a voice for all of the families who have lost loved ones to addiction and overdose. She not only wants justice for Henry; she wants to prevent tragedies like this one from happening to anybody. She not only wants the people who facilitated Henry's death ( and possibly much more) to be held accountable for their actions, she wants to make sure others who lead kids into drug abuse, addiction, and then take advantage of them to be held accountable as well.
Katie has always been bright and articulate, but until now her passion has always been directed inward, towards her family. Now that family has been impacted by predators who use drugs to steal the life away from children, and Katie is harnessing the same power and passion to stand against those predators. And not just against the predators but anybody who takes the attitude that a drug overdose is just Darwin at work, regardless of which side of the law they stand.
She's smart; she's determined; she can work the media like nobody's business; and she's pissed off.
My money's on the lady in this fight.
Her latest post on Henry's story and links to the earlier chapters can be found here.
Fighting For the Truth: A Mother’s Quest for Justice
No matter how strongly we disagreed on matters of politics or personal philosophies, one thing I know for sure is that Katie loves her children unreservedly, with a power and passion I've rarely seen. I knew that Henry's injuries and the aftermath were weighing on her terribly, and the situation was made even rougher because she was pregnant at the time. I wondered how a parent could stand having their child hurting so seriously and still go on caring for the rest of the children. I prayed for Henry's recovery, and for Katie's peace and strength.
In one of life's ironies, I was soon to find out exactly how tough the road she was walking was as my son Luke was in a car accident that put him into the same ICU where Henry was being treated. In fact, Luke went into the ICU on the very day that Henry died. Katie and I crossed paths in one of the waiting areas as she was leaving after Henry passed. I gave her my sympathy and a big hug (I doubt she even remembers it; her grief was so raw.) and she went home while I settled in for what turned out to be a very long wait.
I was lucky; we nearly lost Luke to a combination of the brain injury from the wreck, and lung damage from a reaction to the ventilator, but he survived, and just yesterday his doctor gave him a clean bill of health. He has some very subtle deficits in attention and concentration, but for the most part, he's completely back to normal. I thought about Katie often while I stood watch over Luke, and I still feel a connection to her as she continues to fight for Henry.
Katie is having to pursue justice for Henry on her own as for some reason, the Knox County Sheriff's Office(KCSO) hasn't shown much interest in pursuing the folks who attacked and beat Henry, or the folks who gave him the overdose, kept him in their home, and refused to get help as they saw he was in distress.
According to the detective assigned to the case, there was no crime.
Beatings, robbery, drug trafficking, but no real crime.
The following links go to Katie's story. After nearly a year of silence, as she waited for Knoxville's law enforcement to do their job, she's decided that it is time for her to tell what she knows. Every post is backed with medical reports, phone records, and other records, or is corroborated by witnesses. The story as told paints the picture of the tragic last days of a young man trapped in drug addiction, as well as an unflattering portrait of Knox County law enforcement. I would have a hard time believing how poorly this case was handled if I hadn't heard my wife's story of how her brother's murder was handled. In that case, many of the same attitudes came through. Indifference to the death of what the police thought was just another drug user, incompetence at nearly every level, apathy from the DA's office; it all sounds familiar.
I'm linking to Katie's piece for two reasons. First, she asked me to, and if there's anything I can do to help, I want to do it. Second, reading her story makes me angry. I picture Luke and Henry with their positions reversed, and if it were my son in those circumstances, my son who had been beaten, robbed, abused, and potentially much worse, I'd be fighting just as hard as she is.
But I probably wouldn't be as polite and patient as she has been.
- It’s Time to Go Fully Public With What Happened to My Son, Henry Granju
- JUSTICE FOR HENRY – PART 1
- JUSTICE FOR HENRY – PART 2
- JUSTICE FOR HENRY – PART 3
- JUSTICE FOR HENRY – PART 4
- JUSTICE FOR HENRY – PART 5
- JUSTICE FOR HENRY – PART 6
- JUSTICE FOR HENRY – PART 7
- JUSTICE FOR HENRY – PART 8
- JUSTICE FOR HENRY – A NOTE
- JUSTICE FOR HENRY – PART 9
- JUSTICE FOR HENRY – PART 10
- JUSTICE FOR HENRY – PART 11
- JUSTICE FOR HENRY – PART 12
Help a Friend Find Peace; And Bring Justice to Some Thugs.
WE NEED YOUR HELP!
On Sunday, April 25, 2010, 18 year old Henry Louis Granju (pictured below) solicited aid from a citizen in or around the area of Mayfield Avenue at Winstead Street in South Knoxville, culminating in the citizen driving Granju to Joe Foster Park located at 1116 Drive D, Knoxville TN. This interaction took place in the early evening hours on that date – likely between 6:30 and 8:00 pm.
Our family would very much like to locate this wonderful Good Samaritan who reached out to help our injured son. We want to offer our thanks, and we also want to find out what this person saw or heard when interacting with Henry immediately following the assault.
Additionally, we would like to learn whether anyone in that neighborhood or traveling through the area at that time directly observed Henry’s assault, or saw him being put out of a car by his assailants at or near Mayfield Avenue at Winstead Street in South Knoxville.
If you have any information to share, please call Henry’s mom, Katie Granju at 283-0395 or email her at email@example.com
Please help us spread the word however you can to anyone and everyone in the greater Knoxville area.
The Granju and Hickman families
KCSO Responds to the Granjus
How to get away with Murder in Knox County
I know; it sounds harsh and unfair, but it's the truth. The sheriff's department knows who beat Henry, but they haven't felt it necessary to pursue the investigation. And this isn't an isolated case.
15 years ago,in August of 1995, my wife's brother was murdered in Knoxville. The similarities are striking. Scott Norman was a good kid who was trying to straighten out his life after making some bad decisions. He'd gotten into drugs just like Henry, but unlike Henry, he'd managed to get out of the scene. One day, he gave a friend a ride and was caught up in a drug deal gone bad. He was attacked and savagely beaten,then left to lie in the street for hours before somebody called 911. He lingered for 23 hours before succumbing to his injuries, ad the long delay in treatment contributed to the severity of his injuries.
In Scott's case, the attacker was apprehended almost immediately and confessed to the crime. He spent about three months in jail, before bonding out to await trial. While out on bond, he was arrested several times for petty crimes but for some reason, his bond was never revoked. Jaime Satterfield of the Knoxville News Sentinel picked up the story, and after raising the profile of the case, the attacker went back to jail for a couple of months before bonding out once again. While out on bond, he again was arrested for a major drug crime. This time, the DA took the arrest seriously, much to the dismay of Scott Norman's family. For the purpose of fighting the War on Drugs, the Federal government gives money to state and local courts for successful prosecutions of major drug cases. The DA in Scott's case made a deal with his killer. If he would plea to the drug bust, they would drop the second degree murder charge to manslaughter. The man agreed and pled out to both charges. He was given a 12 year sentence, all but one year converted to probation, and given credit for time served. After sentencing, he served only a few months for a brutal killing before walking out of jail. Did the DA give a murderer a break in order to add a little more money to his budget? I can't say, but I really don't think a few months in jail is an adequate penalty for beating a man to death.
But after all, he really didn't do anything bad, but kill a former drug addict. And the local judicial system received additional funding through the plea deal, so everybody won.
Well, everyone but Scott Norman, but he was a drug user, so who really cared about him or his family.
The same judicial system is now treading the same ground, only this time, the victim is not a voiceless man from a simple family. Henry has a voice, a very loud voice. Led by his mother, Katie Allison Granju, and amplified but hundreds of citizen journalists like me, who will speak out and will do our best to make sure that the KCSO does not let this go by.
I read the KCSO press release, available here, and I'd like to issue a couple of corrections. The attack on Henry was not "alleged." There are x-rays, pictures, and medical testimony to prove that Henry was indeed attacked. When a tir iron is applied to the head and chest, with he resulting physical injuries, at the very least, there is a clear cut case of assault and battery, if not assault with a deadly weapon. The perpetrators have been identified by multiple witnesses. I'm not a skilled detective, and I know the names of the attackers. I have a friend whose son knew Henry and the people he ran around with, and he knows the entire story.
Proving murder will be extremely difficult in this case as the cause of death involves both the beating and the drug overdose. However, the beating would be very easy to prove, and at the very least would get a dangerous group of thugs off the streets for a while.
So now we get to see which is more important to the KCSO and the people who administer justice in Knox County: Justice for Henry or money for their budgets.
Knox County, it's your move.
A few weeks ago, this was literally somebody else's problem. A friend of mine, Katie Allison Granju, wrote about the struggle her son Henry was having, recovering from a brain injury suffered after an assault and a drug overdose. I call Katie a friend, but it's a strange friendship. We disagree vehemently on many things, pretty much everything to tell the truth, but when we've met in person, she's always been friendly and good-natured and we got along well. One of the things we've disagreed on is the nature of Christianity and what it means to call ourselves Christian. To simplify things, I am a Biblical Christian, relying on a fundamentally literal approach to reading the Bible while she prefers a more liberal approach. As Henry's struggle continued, Katie wrote some things that really struck me to the core and I felt compelled to respond.
You have to understand, I wasn't led to argue with her, but I felt a calling I hadn't ever felt before as a Christian, a need to witness to her specifically,about issues she raised, and so I decided to write an email. Before I wrote the first word, I prayed to God and asked that He would give me the words so that she would hear His message, and not mine.
And now Luke sits in a hospital bed not too far from where Henry was, God answered my prayer in a completely unexpected and entirely unwelcome way.
There's a lot of Christians who will read that statement and immediately reject it, saying that God would never hurt an innocent in order to fulfill His design. To them, I say "Go read your Bibles my friends." First, there are no innocents in this world, and second, God will do as He wills, not as we think. Non believers will react similarly, bu for different reasons. They'll say that any God who would do that is a malignant and capricious God,and not worth serving. Again, they are wrong because they are trying to judge God by human standards. We know that this life is a brief detour on our journey to eternity, but we often act like we've forgotten that basic truth. Our lives are short, and eternity is long, and if our lives here are painful, but earn us an eternity in Heaven, then that's an easy trade.
So why don't we live like that?
I was asked a question today. It just popped into my mind, but I knew I had to answer it honestly.
"Would you sacrifice the life of your son to save the soul of your friend?"
It was the question asked of Abraham, and of Mary and Joseph,and they answered "Yes, Lord."
I failed the test because my answer was "No."
A second question came into my mind:
"Would your answer be any different if you knew your son was saved?"
"Yes, Lord, it would."
And it's the third question that's been keeping me up all night tonight:
"Have you done everything you could to bring your children to Christ?"
I don't like my answer to this question either.