'Tell Mama Why You Cry' (Part II)

Sam Krasniqi was acquitted of sexual abuse. So why won't the state let two children have their parents - or their religion?

Throughout the fall, the Krasniqis diligently abided by the court order. Krasniqi rented an apartment and attended a sexual offender's group treatment program run by Chester Grounds, a staff psychologist with DHS.

Grounds said in court that Krasniqi originally admitted in group that he had sexually abused his children, including putting his finger in his daughter's vagina, but that Krasniqi later recanted. "The justification he gave for changing his answer was he did not understand our language and the questions we were asking or the way in which we were asking the questions," Grounds told the court.

"Chester Grounds made me crazy," Krasniqi says. "He says plead guilty and I will get two years probation.

"I say, 'You mean say yes to a lie, say yes to something I never hear in my life--sexually abuse children?'"

"So I say [to Chester Grounds], 'I'm guilty for you and no one else,' to make him happy. Then, on the stand, he says I confessed."

From the outset of the case, Wunderlich thought Krasniqi's chances of being rehabilitated were slim. "In my opinion, it is not likely that we will be able to reunite Sadri with his family," Wunderlich wrote in late August. "The abuse is too interwoven into his relationship with his children. I believe it will be a long time, if ever, before he can successfully learn to relate in a nonsexual way with his children."

Throughout the fall, Kathy attended a women's group on Tuesday nights (for mothers of abused children) and Tim and Lima attended a group for sexually abused children. Kathy told the group that touching children's genitals is all right in her country, but that she realized it was not all right in this country, according to the caseworker's notes.

In the children's groups, both Tim and Lima said little. Tim told Wunderlich he didn't like talking about everyone's problems. "I tried to explain to him why this was so important, but he said his life wasn't as bad as theirs (the other children)," according to Wunderlich's notes. Both children told the group that they missed their father terribly.

After the Tuesday night groups, the children asked Wunderlich if they could call their father. "They are always excited about updating their father on everything that's going on with them," wrote Wunderlich, who monitored the phone calls. "Their spirits seem much higher during conversations with their dad then at other times."

During the fall, the children also underwent physical examinations at Children's Medical Center Reach Clinic, run by Dr. Paul Prescott, the leading local expert in examining children for sexual abuse. "I am somewhat concerned that the children have not told us the full extent of their sexual abuse," Wunderlich wrote in her case notes. "I had hoped that this exam might shed some light on this."

Tim was examined first. Prescott tried to comfort the child, who was crying. Prescott asked Tim about his abuse and Tim replied, "No one has hurt me," but said that his father had touched his private parts.

Prescott found no physical evidence that Tim was sexually abused. Nor did he find any physical evidence of abuse during his examination of Lima, who met the doctor with ease.

As ordered by the court, the Krasniqi family had individual psychological evaluations with an independent therapist named Jan DeLipsey, who worked on a contract basis with DHS. DeLipsey reported that neither parent would benefit from group therapy because their poor English would prevent them from understanding much of the interaction. DeLipsey strongly recommended individual counseling.

In addition, she suggested that Kathy, whom she found to be emotionally, socially, and financially dependent on her husband, also participate with her children in family therapy. DeLipsey cautioned that "those who participate in any legal proceedings involving Mrs. Krasniqi should take care to explain proceedings and have her repeat the explanation back in her own words to assure her understanding."

DeLipsey's words of caution would prove to be prophetic in coming months, but they were ignored by DHS. So were her recommendations that the family members would be best served in individual and family counseling.

However, on the strength of DeLipsey's evaluations, Wunderlich approved visitations between Sam Krasniqi and his children to be supervised by herself. The first supervised visitation between Krasniqi and his children was scheduled for January 3, 1990, five and a half months after his arrest.

Wunderlich arrived at the Krasniqi home on Keller Springs Road at 3:30 p.m. to find the house burned to the ground, the charred remains still smoldering. Kathy Krasniqi was standing in the middle of the street, disoriented. "There's not even a spoon left," she kept saying. She also lost the only picture she had of her deceased mother.

The children walked over to Wunderlich, accompanied by their father. He held both children in his arms and wept. The caseworker then went to talk to the firemen, one of whom informed her the fire was arson--caused by a bomb and timing device.

The Krasniqis and Wunderlich decided to go to the family's restaurant, so the family could get something to eat and Kathy could figure out where she and the children could stay. On the way to the car, Krasniqi picked Lima up and twirled her around.

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