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A Florida school district has agreed to pay a total settlement of $600,000 to the families of three high school students who all committed suicide after being hypnotized by their principal, George Kenney.

According to The Herald Tribune, this comes as the final chapter to a bizarre case that began when Kenney “admitted he hypnotized 16-year-old Wesley McKinley a day before the teenager committed suicide in April 2011.”

Upon further investigation (which the father of one of the teens said he paid for), it was found that Kenney had practically hypnotized the whole school. Via The Herald Tribune:

A subsequent investigation found that Kenney hypnotized as many as 75 students, staff members and others from 2006 until McKinley’s death. One basketball player at the school said Kenney hypnotized him 30 to 40 times to improve his concentration.

Of the people Kenney hypnotized, three committed suicide shortly after being hypnotized by him, or in one case, self-hypnotizing using a method taught by him: McKinley, 16-year-old Marcus Freeman and 17-year-old Brittany Palumbo:

Kenney hypnotized Freeman, a quarterback for the North Port High football team, to help him concentrate and not worry about pain during games, according to court documents. Kenney began to teach Freeman how to hypnotize himself.

After a painful dentist visit on March 15, 2011, Freeman drove home with his girlfriend. His girlfriend said that during the ride Freeman got a strange look on his face and veered off of Interstate 75 near Toledo Blade Boulevard. Freeman later died from his injuries; his girlfriend survived.

McKinley was found hanging outside his home less than a month later on April 8. His friend Thomas Lyle said in a deposition for the case that McKinley was hypnotized by Kenney at least three times, including on the day he died. McKinley wanted to do better with his guitar practice for his audition with the Julliard School of the Arts, Lyle said. When McKinley would get on the school bus after sessions, sometimes he wouldn’t know his name, Lyle said. McKinley would ask who his friends were. The same day McKinley died, he asked Lyle to punch him in the face, the records stated.

“I would say that he was in a distant phase. He wasn’t all there mentally, it seemed like, after the sessions,” Lyle said, according to a deposition.

Palumbo also hanged herself. Her parents found her in her closet in 2011. Her parents said she wanted to attend the University of Central Florida before Kenney informally diagnosed her with test anxiety. He said hypnosis could help her improve her SAT scores. Her scores did not improve and she became despondent before she died.

Former North Port High School Principal Kenney admitted he hypnotized 16-year-old Wesley McKinley a day before the teenager committed suicide in April 2011. A subsequent investigation found that Kenney hypnotized as many as 75 students, staff members and others from 2006 until McKinley’s death.

 

While some people dismissed this as pure coincidence, the police thought it suspicious enough to warrant charges. A date was set for October 1. To avoid a trial, the school board agreed to pay each family $200,000 — the largest settlement a state agency is allowed to pay without getting approval from the governor and legislature. Assuming he was liable for the teens’ deaths, it seems as if Kenney and his bosses got off pretty easy:

Kenney was placed on administrative leave in May 2011; he resigned in June 2012. He was charged with two misdemeanors in 2012, including practicing therapeutic hypnosis without a license. He entered a plea of no contest as part of a deal that saw him serve one year of probation, during which he was not allowed to practice unlicensed hypnosis.

Does that mean he’s allowed to practice it now???

Kenney gave up his teaching license in 2013 under pressure from the Florida Department of Education and cannot reapply for another. Documents at the time indicated he lived in Waynesville, North Carolina.

As for what Kenney is doing now,

A web search revealed Kenney operates a lakeside bed-and-breakfast there and creates stained glass.

Neither business’ website works very well, but I hear it’s lovely in North Carolina this time of year. One guest described Kenney and his wife Wanda as “fun, hospitable and eager to serve.” Just remember to say “no thank you” if the innkeeper offers a bit of amateur hypnosis to help you focus on your macrame.

 

Source

School Board Settles Over Principal Hypnotism Deaths

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