Cortland Evening Standard, Wednesday, May 6, 1896.
Dr. Santee Charged With Whipping His Child too Hard.
Sensational reports have been afloat for a couple of days which have developed unto a charge being preferred before the police justice against Dr. E. M. Santee of cruelty to his adopted daughter, Grace Santee, ten years old, in whipping her too hard. If the charge is true the doctor undoubtedly deserves punishment for the offence. If it is not true, it is not only unjust and unkind to report such things, but it will be very likely to prove a serious matter to those who have been concerned in spreading the news.
A STANDARD man has taken the pains to investigate the matter and does not find sufficient grounds for the charge. He has interviewed those quoted as starting the report, and finds their words grossly exaggerated, and he has interviewed all members of the Santee family including the little girl herself. The older members of the family might be considered interested parties in hushing it up, if there was anything to hush, but the little girl who was seen alone and apart from the others told the same thing and the STANDARD man believes she told him the truth.
It is charged that last Sunday morning Dr. Santee whipped the child unmercifully with a large whip and that she cried so hard that the neighbors thought she was being murdered and determined to prevent a repetition of the affair.
It appears from what the family say that the little girl Grace is now ten years old. She was taken out of the streets of Elmira on Oct. 20, 1894, where she had run wild for nearly nine years. Her mother was dead, her father was a worthless party who signed a paper relinquishing all claims upon his child. The little girl had been subjected to all the bad influences of the street and was ignorant of all that was good. She is a very blight child and has many good points, but has one decided weakness. If ever she gets cornered in any story she may be telling, she has no hesitation about telling an untruth that will help her out and telling it in the most bold faced manner. The family have had more trouble with this failing than with all others and have tried every means to break her of the habit. She has been punished by being sent to bed, by being sent away to her room to stay for a time, by being directed to sit in the corner, by being deprived temporarily of various anticipated pleasures that might be in store or being obliged to forfeit them altogether and the thousand and one other ways so common to parents. None of them availed. She would do the same thing the next time. Stronger measures became necessary, and several times she has been whipped, but the family claim not unnecessarily or unduly.
In the case in question she last Sunday morning told her mother a very bare faced lie, and stuck to it in the face of plain evidence to the contrary, though she finally owned up when it was no use to deny it longer. Then the doctor whipped [her]. It was in an upper room and the windows were open. One of the parties who makes the charges was close outside the window and of course heard the operation.
This morning she was summoned before Police Justice Mellon for a preliminary examination to see whether sufficient ground existed for the issuing of a warrant. A few questions were asked and the further examination was deferred until this evening,
The STANDARD representative called at Dr. Santee's this morning and requested a few words with Grace. Mrs. Santee readily granted it and the child came into the parlor, the others went out and closed the door and there was a full opportunity for questions and for answers on the part of Grace without any constraint from the presence of the others. The following was part of the conversation that followed:
Did your father punish you last Sunday?
He whipped me.
What had you been doing?
I had told mamma a wrong story.
What was it about? Here Grace gave a full account of the story she told, making it clear that she had surely told an untruth and stuck to it, but finally had to give it up when the very evidence of her falsehood was presented to her.
What did he whip you with?
The little red riding whip.—The whip was afterward produced and was about two feet long and very small, very far from being the horsewhip claimed.
How did he whip you?
He struck me about my ankles and the bottom of my skirts.
What did you do, cry?
Oh, yes, I hollered as loud as I could scream.
Did he whip you very hard?
What made you cry so loud then?
Why, I thought he would stop if I did.
And did he?
Then you really cried harder than was necessary for such a whipping?
I guess I did.
Do you think you deserved the whipping if you told the wrong story?
I suppose I did.
How many times has he ever whipped you before?
I don't know.
About how many times, two or three or a dozen or more?
(After thinking.) I think four times altogether.
Your papa and mamma are kind to you?
Did you know that I was coming here to ask you these questions, or any one else?
Has any one told you what to say if you were asked questions about this matter?
Have any of the family talked to you about this before or since you went down with Chief Linderman this morning?
This ground was gone over by The STANDARD man several times in different ways and he is confident the child had not been coached on answers and that she was telling him the truth. If this is all so, she probably made use of the child's usual method on being punished to cry as loud as she could expecting that the end would come sooner. If the story is true, there seems to be no ground for any charge of cruelty. The child has been sent to school since she came to Dr. Santee's and has been in every way treated as their own.
Dr. E. B. Nash heard of the report of the whipping and went up there at once to see if any marks or traces of the whip could be found, the report on the street being that huge welts were left on the flesh. He told the STANDARD man that there was not a word of truth in the report. He examined the child and found not a trace of a mark of whip or anything else. Some very strong statements and what seem to have been ungrounded were made in the Syracuse Standard this morning in regard to this affair and we are informed by Dr. Santee that he has already instructed his attorney to begin an action against that paper for libel.