A few nights ago I came across a movie on cable that caught me attention. The movie, “An American Crime,” is based on a true story. It is about one of the most heinous cases of child abuse I have heard of. It is the story of a sixteen-year-old girl and her younger sister who are left in the care of this woman while their parents go on the road. The father agrees to pay the woman $20 a week—oh, I forgot to mention that this takes place in 1965 in Indiana. Ok, so the woman agrees because she already has a lot of children and no husband to help her. She takes in ironing, but that doesn’t help much. Now, my first thought was, why would these parents leave their daughters with someone they had just met and know nothing about? Who would do that?
Anyway, when the check does not come on time the woman, Gerty, takes out her frustrations on the two girls by beating them. As time goes on, she tortures the older of the two, who is a little more outspoken. Gerty burns the girl with her cigarettes, beats her, and ties her up in the cellar. Eventually, now this is the real crazy part, other children from the neighborhood join her children in beating, kicking, burning and torturing this child. All of this takes place during a time span of about three months. Gerty carves the words, “I’m a prostitute and proud of it,” into the girl’s stomach. This she does with the help of one of the boys from the neighborhood.
I don’t usually watch movies about abuse, but I kept thinking these two girls would eventually get away or get rescued, but that was not the case. I was amazed that all these children participated—even teenagers who were old enough to know better. All this was going on and no one did anything. Even the sister didn’t tell anyone—she was too afraid. Because the actions depicted in the movie were so incredible, I had to do a search to find out if this really happened. Well, I found out it was true. Here is the story I found.