Southern Gothic: SCAD’s strange connection to Georgia’s most prolific pedophile
SCAD’s Dear Leader, and proud member of the Poetter clan, would like for her legacy to be that of “America’s Arts Educator.” In light of the recent allegations that SCAD is covering up sexual assaults on campus, she may be remembered for something more.
On a recent radio interview with Wild Man Johnny B (KSMT Radio morning host), Dear Leader gleefully recounted how her first book, Johnny on the Porch with Grandpa provided her the seed money she needed when she and May Poetter founded the Savannah College of Art and Design.
SCAD’s origin story has been untarnished and pristine for the past 34 years. Untarnished that is until recently, when a group of miscreant investigators uncovered what may turn out to be a much darker and uglier story of where the seed for SCAD’s business plan MAY have originated.
This story begins with a man some call “Georgia’s most prolific pedophile,” but whom Dear Leader refers to as “Kin.”
The business model for a private school, run by one family, carefully guarded with a hand-picked, well paid board of directors has been a lucrative formula for Dear Leader’s family for over 50 years. The architect for such a model may have been none other than Louis J. ’Doc’ Poetter.
Below is a short timeline of alleged events that would make V. C. Andrews, Dear Leader’s favorite author, blush. (see end of post for Atlanta Journal article full text)
1962: Doc Poetter founds Anneewakee (Cherokee for “Land of Friendly People”) as an adolescent psychiatric care institution specializing in “wilderness therapy” for troubled youth. Family makes up a large body of administrative personnel.
1970: Doc Poetter is removed as administrator of the facility following a state Department of Human Resources (DHR) investigation of alleged sexual misconduct with male patients. The investigation is not made public and Doc Poetter remains executive director.
1970—July 1986: Doc Poetter is accused of molesting boys in his care, as well as transporting boys to his property in Mexico for similar purposes. Court documents reveal that Doc Poetter subscribed to a theory that boys “had to have a homosexual experience in order to work through their homosexual fear.”
Psychologists and other staff who worked with Doc Poetter at the Anneewakee school testified that the Doctor encouraged sex between faculty members and the boys, as well as participating himself.
September 1970: Dear Leader pens her first best seller, The Clogs they are a Changing, and other South Georgian Meditations.
From as early as 1970, members of Doc Poetter’s family are employed by the school and receive property lease payments from the school in excess of 100k per year while Doc Potter continues to ‘oversee’ operations at the school.
1978: Independently of Doc Poetter, May Poetter, (former trustee of SCAD) flush with cash, co-founds the Savannah College of Art and Design with Dear Leader.
The Savannah College of Art and Design sets up an organizational structure that some claim is eerily similar to the Anneewakee school (family are employed as administrators, a close-knit and easily controlled board is established, money begins to roll in).
January 1980: Dear Leader retires from the Southern Clog Dancing circuit after huge win in Tijuana. Dear Leader sets her focus to the day-to-day operations of the university while raising her two gifted children in the attic of a ramshackle house at The Landings.
October 1986: six victims of alleged physical and sexual abuse from Anneewakee file suit charging facility officials, including Doc Poetter and Moore, with racketeering to defraud and abuse patients.
Doc Poetter charged by Douglas Sheriff Earl Lee with three counts of sodomy, one count of cruelty to children and one count of simple battery. At the time, Poetter is believed to be in Mexico City with a group of underage boys in his care. Carl Maxwell Moore, Poetter’s chauffeur, is charged with sodomy.
Psychologists and other staff who worked with the Poetters at Anneewakee testifiy that Doc Poetter encouraged sex between staff members and the boys, as well as participating himself.
Doc Poetter is also charged with stealing $29,500 in Anneewakee funds to buy land for “personal use” in Mexico.
Later that year Dear Leader cancels plans for student clog dancing exchange program in Tijuana. Citing lack of adequate accommodations in host city.
November 1986: Nine young women, ages 19 to 24, sue Anneewakee, charging the hospital with racketeering and conspiracy to abuse them sexually and physically, and defraud them financially. Doc. Poetter released after five weeks in the Douglas County Jail when friends and supporters raise his $1 million bond.
One year later, 1987, Doc Poetter is indicted in Douglas County on 22 more sodomy counts dating from 1971. His wife, Mable and his son-in-law James Henry Evans are charged with failure to report child abuse.
By the end of 1987 there are 10 criminal defendants in the case.
April, 1988: Doc Poetter pleads guilty to 19 counts of sodomy with former patients. He is sentenced to eight years in prison, 12 years probation. He Appeals this conviction in 1999 seeking to Overturn Sodomy Conviction in Anneewakee Attacks.
1990: Dear Leader begins work on statue to commemorate her service to Savannah. SCAD sculpture department closes soon after.
The Poetter Fortune?
How much money was siphoned from the Anneewakee school by the Poetter family is not clear from the court documents, however, in 1982, court records show that the private school paid over $230,000 in salaries to Doc. Poetter, his wife, two daughters and two sons-in-law, and the school had a surplus of about $2.9 million at year’s end.
Dear Leader claims that her series of Johnny on the Porch with Grandpa books where a runaway success—bringing in “more than enough money to found an art school.” She also claims that the sale of her yellow VW bug to ‘Cooter’, a southern mechanic par excellence, helped cover SCAD’s first year operating expenses (apparently yellow bugs fetch high prices in Savannah).
Some investigators are not convinced. With rumors swirling of Dear Leader’s imminent retirement, growing financial crises at the art school, and the upcoming release of her anticipated memoir and coloring book— D.L.—Porch Talks with America’s Arts Educator, tensions are running high at SCAD.
“These stories about deviant sexual behavior in Dear Leader’s Family history are total poppycock!” declared SCAD’s Director of Public Pronouncements, Hyacinth Bucket. “And the idea that any of Dear Leader’s Family—educators to the core—would ever consider profits over students…is an insult to every artist who teaches at SCAD for very little money and no job security. We do it because we love the kids.”
From her porch at the Landings, Dear Leader encouraged members of the SCAD community to celebrate the great outdoors stating: “the highest and best use of a front porch is to enable and encourage the art of conversation. We entertain ourselves with stories on the porch. We invite people in. We sit. We visit.”
All stories on www.SCADSECRETS.com are parodies. All content on www.SCADSECRETS.com is fictionalized and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. This site and the content contained within are not affiliated with the Savannah College of Art & Design, a University of creative careers founded by Ms. Paula Wallace who is practically perfect in every way.
OBITUARIES: T.M. Jim Parham, Carter aide, social reformer
BYLINE: By Kelleigh Scott STAFF WRITER
PUBLICATION: The Atlanta Journal and Constitution
The memorial service for T.M. Jim Parham, a former aide to President Jimmy Carter and three Georgia governors, will be held at 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Atlanta.
Mr. Parham died Friday of complications from a stroke at St. Joseph’s Hospital. He was 69 and lived in Decatur.
The body was donated to the Emory School of Medicine.
Mr. Parham grew up in an impoverished family in one of Atlanta’s company-owned cotton mill neighborhoods, said his wife, Dorothy Spears Butler of Decatur. “He didn’t know he was poor until he moved out of the cotton mill village,” she said.
Mr. Parham’s humble beginnings had a profound effect, Mrs. Parham said. Throughout his life, she said, he served as an advocate for social reform, particularly pertaining to children.
In 1977, Carter selected Mr. Parham to be a White House special assistant for intergovernment relations. He later moved to the Department of Health, Education and Welfare as deputy assistant secretary in the Office of Human Development Services.
“He was a man of enormous passion,” said Jack Watson, who served as White House chief of staff during the Carter Administration. “His passion was reflected in his works for underprivileged people of every age and every circumstance.
“He was one of the most practical, compassionate and eloquent men I’ve ever known,” Mr. Watson said.
Gov. Carl Sanders named Mr. Parham to head the state’s then-new Division for Children and Youth in 1963. In 1971 he was appointed Director of the Department of Family and Children’s Services. And in 1975 he was named commissioner of human resources by Gov. George Busbee.
“There was no such thing as a lost cause or person. Jim never gave up,” said Bill Jamison, a close friend and former colleague at the Georgia Department of Human Resources.
Mr. Parham also taught social welfare at the University of Georgia.
After retiring from the university system in 1994, he served as board president of Emmaus House, where he recently had been working on expanding the children’s programs.
“Jim was particularly disturbed by the negative impact on children which he saw as a byproduct of recent changes in the welfare system,” said Emmaus board member Panke Bradley Miller.
“I asked my husband one time what he’d like to be remembered for, and he said his work for children,” Mrs. Parham said.
Surviving in addition to his wife are two daughters, Vicki P. Deyton of Newnan and Nancy P. Buckler of Peachtree Corners; a stepdaughter, Eileen Butler Gady of Marietta; a stepson, Franklin T. Butler of Douglasville; a sister, Barbara P. Turner of Duluth; and seven grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, donations should be sent to The Emmaus House Foundation, 1017 Capitol Ave. S.W., Atlanta, Ga. 30315.
Copyright © 2000 The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution
Chronology of Anneewakee events, 1962-89
PUBLICATION: The Atlanta Journal and Constitution
– 1962: Louis J. Poetter founds Anneewakee as an adolescent psychiatric care institution specializing in wilderness therapy.
-1970: Poetter is removed as administrator of the facility following a state Department of Human Resources (DHR) investigation of alleged sexual misconduct with male patients. The investigation is not made public, and Poetter remains executive director.
-July 1, 1986: Poetter resigns as Anneewakee board chairman, remains executive director.
-Mid-August 1986: Douglas County Sheriff’s Department and GBI begin examining allegations of patient abuse.
-Oct. 1, 1986: Poetter charged by Douglas Sheriff Earl Lee with three counts of sodomy, one count of cruelty to children and one count of simple battery. At the time, Poetter is believed to be in Mexico City. Carl Maxwell Moore, Poetter’s chauffeur, is charged with sodomy.
-Oct. 5, 1986: Poetter surrenders to authorities.
-Oct. 6, 1986: DHR begins its Anneewakee investigation.
-Oct. 9, 1986: Six victims of alleged physical and sexual abuse file suit charging facility officials, including Poetter and Moore, with racketeering to defraud and abuse patients.
-Oct. 14, 1986: Douglas deputies arrest James C. Womack, co-director of therapeutic services, and charge him with “numerous counts of sodomy.”
-Oct. 17, 1986: Daniel T. Herrera, an Anneewakee employee, charged with cruelty to children. Second group of alleged victims sues.
-Oct. 30, 1986: Poetter charged with stealing $29,500 in Anneewakee funds to buy land for personal use in Mexico.
-Nov. 3, 1986: Robert Lee Winebarger, former group leader, charged with sodomizing young male patient between January 1978 and January 1980.
-Nov. 7, 1986: Nine young women, ages 19 to 24, sue Anneewakee, charging the hospital with racketeering and conspiracy to abuse them sexually and physically, and defraud them financially. Poetter released after five weeks in the Douglas County Jail when friends and supporters raise his $1 million bond.
-Nov. 21, 1986: Twenty-two former Anneewakee patients sue the hospital, naming Poetter, board chairman Jim Parham and other current and former trustees as defendants. This is the fourth suit against the facility and the first to name Parham as a defendant.
-Jan. 25, 1987: Subsidiary of Hospital Corp. of America – HCA Psychiatric Co. -agrees to take over the day-to-day operations of the three Anneewakee facilities. Arrangement prevents the state Department of Human Resources from revoking the facility’s license.
-Feb. 27, 1987: Poetter indicted in Douglas County on 22 more sodomy counts dating from 1971.
-March 6, 1987: Poetter, his wife, Mable, and his son-in-law, James Henry Evans, charged with failure to report child abuse. By now, there are 10 criminal defendants in the case.
-March 8, 1987: HCA Psychiatric Co. signs five-year agreement to manage the camps. That same week, the parents of a former patient sue in federal court in At lanta over dispute in therapy time. Fifth civil action.
-April 8, 1988: Poetter pleads guilty to 19 counts of sodomy with former patients, sentenced to eight years in prison, 12 years probation.
-Oct. 10, 1989: First of six civil trials begins in Fulton County. To date, there are eight lawsuits, 131 plaintiffs and 31 defendants.
-Dec. 19, 1989: After 10-week trial, Fulton Superior Court jury awards $5.2 million to three young women made to work as construction laborers.
Copyright © 2000 The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution