Lock them away

Before a child is born, you have a lot of thoughts about the child. What will it look like, who will it resemble, what kind of personality will it have.

But when you find out that the child has some mental challenges, that must be quite a shock. Still parent must do what they have to do with the child and then go on. I have also heard parents with a special child say there are special rewards for having a challenged child. There is a bond there that is unlike what they have with their other children. Something that is special.

But it didn't work that way in this family.

Jan. 31, an officer was asked to check on an 18 year old mentally challenged person. I have read both that the school asked them to check and that the girl called police.

When police arrived, they knocked at the door and got no response. They went to the school the next day and interviewed the girl who is not being named. She explained that she was at home when police arrived, but that she couldn't come to the door, as she was locked in her room.

On April 13, police again went to the home while the rest of the family was away at a younger daughter's softball game. They talked with the girl through a second story window and she said she was again locked in her room.

Police then obtained a search warrant and entered the home and entered the girl's bedroom. They say the room was cluttered and had a foul odor. She had a box filled with paper to use as a bathroom. There was no bed in the room, only blankets and a pillow on the floor.

In interviews with the girl, she has indicated that she was locked in her room for varying lengths of time, the most was one day and she was without food or water. She has told them that she often went without food, and was often not permitted to eat with the family.

There was a neighbor who sometimes fed her. They put a bag of food on a stick and held it up to the 2nd story window.

The mother and stepfather George Shaak Jr., 51, and Susan Shaak, 42, have been charged with various charges of child abuse including endangering the welfare of a child and false imprisonment. The girl is now in the custody of an agency who works with the mentally retarded. The younger siblings did not appear to have been harmed.



Did this couple not think of what the isolation would do to the girl? Locked away in a room with no way to amuse herself, not even a bed to lie on? What if there had been a fire or other catastrophe in the home?

And it wasn't as if they couldn't take the girl with them. They were going to a family oriented event, their child's softball game.

No I am not in favor of locking anyone up because they have some type of challenge in their lives. If we started locking people up because they have flaws, I don't know that anyone would be loose. All persons have value (well most of them). Yes, the child may have presented some challenges to the parents. But in different ways, all kids present their own form of challenge. Not a reason to lock them up.



  1. Misslisa said,

    May 18, 2006 at 11:08 pm

    How terrible! I have 2 children, the oldest is special needs (cerebral palsy), I can’t even begin to fathom the thought of leaving either of them locked away in such a terrible inhumane way. I hope the “parents” in this case get lengthy prison terms and will find out firsthand what it’s like to be locked up away from others – heck, in jail they will atleast have facilities to use and meals…. better than what they put that poor girl through! I hope she is now someplace safe and loving where her needs are attended to the right way.

    Normally, a child with challenges needs even more interaction and attention than the average child. The “parents” should have contacted someone for help if they were not able to give the extras their child needed, but as we see far too often they don’t get that help and the child is made to suffer for the shortcomings of the parents.

    This case makes me think about a comment a friend of mine made a few months ago…. We had a few friends over one night and at bedtime our son with CP straight out refused to go to sleep. He was in a great mood and just wanted to be up to hang out with everyone. So after a little while of unsuccsessfully urging him to sleep, I gave in (as usual, lol…that boy has me wrapped!) and let him stay up to join us. Our friend said that he thought it was great that we let him get up because for some people it would be easy to just ignore him and let him lay there (he can’t walk) awake and alone, so that we could have an evening with friends w/o having to deal with him. That comment really stuck with me, because it’s very true of some parents… which just saddens me. My children are my world, and fact that my son is handicapped just makes him all the more special to me. It’s too bad that all parents don’t see things the same way.

  2. May 19, 2006 at 1:18 am

    I wondered if maybe the stepfather or even the stepmother might have been “embarrassed” about the child’s disability now that she is getting older. Don’t quote me on this, but I think I read somewhere that locking her in her room started about 3 years ago. But I wonder if they ever considered the embarrassment they will have the next time they apply for a job and have to mark yes when they answer the question- have you ever been convicted of a felony (assuming that they are convicted of course).
    I not only hope the daughter is in a better place, but I hope someone is able to work with the other children. Think of what they have learned from their parents on how to handle “problems” or “embarrassments”.

  3. Family Relative said,

    April 16, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    I am in relation to the victim of this post, and the criminals. George Shaak Jr is my grandfather. His wife, Susan Shaak, is his second wife. He was ashamed of her, and of the mentally challenged daughter she had brought into the marriage. He never had pictures of her in their house, just of himself and their two children together. The abuse to that poor girl started the day the two lived together. The oldest daughter, my aunt, that the two had together is 18 as of now. So the abuse was more than 3 years before it hit the news.

    What the news didn’t tell you, was of the abuse earlier in his life. My mother is his oldest daughter. She is now 36 years old. She has two younger brothers, and a younger sister from the same father. She never considered the second wife or their children to be her sisters. From the time she was born, she was beaten and abused by her father. He molested his two daughters, favored his oldest son (Who in fact had lived there while the girl in this post was being tortured. He did, of course, help her. All of us did.), and never had a chance to hurt his youngest son. He beat their mother (my grandmother) and all of the children. The cops were called on more than a weekly basis. The marriage ended just in time. Even after the marriage was over, he would break into the mother’s new house and steal the most ridiculous items. He made sure they all knew, though, that he was watching them.

    When I was born, he pretended as though he wanted to be involved in my life. Instead, he was using it as an excuse to have my mother at his house. The last time we were there together, he had locked us in his house. I was no older than 3. I am now 17, he has kept every Christmas and birthday present at his house from the time I was 3 until he was arrested. He tried to use it to get me to visit, to “get my presents”.

    The challenged girl was NEVER treated as an equal. I remember several occasions my mother, aunt, uncles, and grandmother would try to help the girl. She wasn’t allowed to talk to her sibilings in school. She wasn’t permitted to eat with the family, or even eat in general. When the parents would leave, while my uncle still lived there, she would eat with my uncle. He would help her get out of her room while they were gone, he would help her with activities (he, his girlfriend, and my aunt who were all there the most often) and make her food. If he would’ve been caught by his father, the same fate awaited him. My aunt had called the police about the challenged daughter, when they arrived, the house would be spotless. The girls would be all dolled up, and all of them, even the victim, would tell the police how wonderful their parents were.

    On one occasion, the girl was locked in a van while the family was at Hershey Park. They took her with because the cops had been at the house recently.

    George was a respected person in Lebanon County. Many of the police force knew him, because he was their buddy. His lies passed through, though it was rare for the police to show after a call. His first family were looked at as pests, because of the many “empty” accusations. So their calls were usually ignored.

    My aunt had become a teacher at one of the local elementary schools soon afterward, and she began talking with one of the IU teachers that taught the girl. That teacher had then asked for the girl to be checked up on. Thankfully, the authorities followed through.

    At first, the girl had lived with my grandmother, my aunt, and I. (I was staying at her house to finish my last year of middle school, my family had moved to a different disctrict near the end of the year.) Not too long after, she was reunited with her biological father. She lives with him now, and she is quite happy with him.

    Both of them are challenged, and are looked after by different social workers. When they first started visiting eachother, their favorite thing to do was to get ice cream together. So please, if you’re reading this post or this comment, be sure that this girl is happy with her life now.

    And think of this, think of how this man was let go for so many years. The problems were NOT kept secret, all of these were an ongoing family struggle even until after he was charged. My mother and her siblings have somewhat been torn apart by their feelings for their father. Our whole family has been split since the arrest.

    The children should have been taken from this man. They were NOT. Both of the children they had together were left with them, and they recently had another child. A baby boy. A local church has paid for a house for the family to live in. They are now posing as Born-Again Christians.

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