Joshua’s Petition

josh

UPDATE: The new “picture” is for the benefit of the person who took my copyrighted photo and posted it on the forum at somethingawful.com.  Look for a cease and desist letter shortly.  You should be ashamed of yourself. Other visitors, please read Josh’s story and realize that you shouldn’t be so hasty to judge people. There but for the grace of God…

A petition will be posted here shortly to help support stronger state legislation for crimes against children.  It is being promoted by Joshua Osbourne, the teenager who was found in Lebanon, Tenn. three years ago chained to his bed and weighing 48 pounds.  Today he lives with his Aunt Tammy here in LaVergne.  Here’s his story:

Three years ago, Joshua was rescued from a cruel, brutal existence. The then 15-year old lived with his father and stepmother who often chained the teenager to his bed. When Josh was unchained, it was so he could clean the house.  Josh weighed 48 pounds because he was not allowed food or water. When he did eat, it was a can of cream of mushroom soup that his sister was forced to feed him – soup peppered with coffee grounds. If she gave Josh too much food, she was beaten.

It took years for the state to respond to calls to investigate the neglect suffered by Josh. He was taken to the hospital after he was removed from the home and was pleased to eat hamburgers and steak. He said the hamburger was his favorite, but there was too much food for the boy who was always hungry.

His caretakers were arrested, but couldn’t be charged with child abuse because there were no visible bruises on Josh’s skeletal frame. When they were convicted, the state law was silent about what type of felony had been committed. The jurors weren’t going to allow them to walk away from the crime, so they convicted the stepmother of “attempted aggravated child neglect” and the father of the same, along with “failure to protect.”  Other felonies in this class are forgery, auto burglary, habitual traffic offender, and failure to appear in court for a felony charge. Josh’s stepmother was sentenced to six years in prison and his dad seven. Ironically, conviction of cruelty to animals can get a longer sentence.

Unlike other people who’ve shared their life with me, Joshua’s story isn’t about his past; rather it’s about his present and his future. Today, Josh weighs 107 pounds and has grown to be over 5’1” tall. He attended his senior prom, has graduated from high school and works at the local Goodwill store stocking shelves.

Josh loves listening to country music because it keeps him calm and happy. He also likes singing and dancing to his favorite songs. Josh owns two guitars; one he strums, but the other is reserved for autographs. So far it has been signed by Marty Stuart, Trisha Yearwood, Garth Brooks, Pam Tillis, and Hank Williams, Jr.  Porter Wagoner almost signed the guitar, but he had to go on stage. Although Josh never did get the late singer’s autograph, he still enjoys hearing Porter’s music. On Josh’s list of country stars he still hopes to meet are Trace Adkins, and… well, all other country music stars.

But Josh’s life isn’t just about finding autographs. During Thanksgiving, he helped to serve meals at the Hope Center for women in Nashville, alongside his aunt, uncle, and grandmother. This Christmas, they will again volunteer, this time at the Nashville Rescue for Men. Josh greatly enjoys helping other people. He is very active in his church; not only does he attend service every Sunday and Wednesday, but he’s also in the men’s dance class and is a member of the Lamplighters’ performance troupe. Through his job at Goodwill, he often calls his aunt when something comes in that can be used as a stage prop.

Without hesitation, Josh credits God for his life, which started out with a heart transplant when Josh was only 15 days old. Josh was diagnosed at birth with “Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome,” meaning the left side of his heart had not developed. He survived the transplant only to be placed in the dangerous home environment.

Josh believes God has a purpose for his survival and that purpose may well be to advocate for strengthened laws against child abuse and child neglect. Josh has met with Tennessee Representative Sherry Jones about sponsoring tougher penalties for the crimes. He will be testifying before the Legislature in January about making the type of torture he endured defined at least as a Class C felony. In addition, Josh would like to see the statute of limitations for physical abuse extended past the one year time it is now, as well as a better structure in place to terminate parental rights in cases of physical abuse.

Josh is still in the process of healing. He still has nightmares and has struggled to overcome the flashes of negative personality traits. But throughout his recovery, he has survived because of good people who have comforted and supported him. Josh holds his caregiver, Aunt Tammy, close to his heart because of her unwavering support. She takes him to work and shopping, but also manages his nightly dialysis. Josh’s kidney failure could be caused by the heart transplant, but it was accelerated by the starvation. A kidney transplant is expected early in 2008, and a possible donor may have already been located.

Josh’s past is his future. But for the present, Josh hopes his experience will change state laws to better protect children and rightfully prosecute those found guilty of abuse and neglect.

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2 Responses

  1. Did I read that right? Those two monsters only got 6 and 7 years for that?????

  2. omg dats soo cruel! its like as if they treated him like an animal n they hve to serve 6 and 7 years for dat!! shud be a life time

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