Silent vigil will call attention to child abuse

Frustration and pain over the recent death of a 3-year-old Medford girl has prompted community activists to organize a silent vigil at Vogel Plaza on Monday.

Dee Anne Everson, executive director of United Way of Jackson County, posted a Mail Tribune article about the child's death on the agency's Facebook page, describing the critical brain injuries the girl suffered when she was reportedly assaulted by her mother's boyfriend.

"The tragedy of child abuse continues in our community," Everson wrote.

The child died Tuesday at a Portland hospital. Investigators think her injuries happened sometime Friday night. She was taken to Doernbecher Children's Hospital on Saturday when it became apparent she was seriously injured. Life support was removed, and she died shortly before 4 p.m. Tuesday, Medford police said.

Benjamin James George, 29, of the 2100 block of Crater Lake Avenue, Medford, remains jailed on first-degree assault charges.

Everson's Facebook post elicited a response from former Medford resident Cher Everhart, which planted the seed for Monday's planned demonstration.

Everhart wrote that she was heartbroken and speechless at the news. She recounted painful childhood memories of a neighbor girl's abuse.

"My family could hear (the abuse)," she wrote. "Mom would call the police, and they would take their time getting there. If they couldn't 'hear' anything, they did nothing. Then the next day, the neighbor kid would come over to our home, battered and bruised. But no one would do anything because they refused to 'hear' it. Even as a young kid, I could not understand why adults let this happen to her."

There are no allegations that police ignored any information that could have saved the Medford girl. But we must all learn to listen carefully for the sounds of child abuse, Everson said.

Mary-Curtis Gramley, executive director of Medford's Family Nurturing Center, a therapeutic and respite nursery for children, said she and other members of the Jackson County Child Abuse Network plan to join Everson in the vigil. She invited members of the public to dress in blue, make signs and join the Vogel Plaza vigil at 4 p.m. Monday.

"Wouldn't that just be phenomenal to see the whole plaza full," Gramley said. "This is our community, and we've all got to come together to make sure this doesn't happen again."

The Child Awareness Network group will be dressed in shades of blue, the color of ribbons that promote child-abuse awareness month and foster-children month. At 4:15 p.m., a one-hour silent vigil will begin, Everson said.

The goal is to demonstrate to the community it is possible and necessary "to stop, to listen, to notice what is going on," Everson said.

"We will be silent for one hour," Everson said. "We will be actively listening to what's going on around us. Maybe by just listening, others will, too. And we can only imagine what can change."

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail

Share This Story