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Some Questions About the History of Laura’s Law

Some Questions About the History of Laura’s Law

November 14, 2013

The story about Scott Thorpe, the man convicted of killing Laura Wilcox has

changed with the passage of time.

The murder occurred on January 10, 2001. Early press reports said nothing

about Mr. Thorpe refusing treatment. The reports said he was undergoing

treatment at the mental health clinic where he killed two people. The treatment

was for agoraphobia (fear of public crowds). But his mother said he had been also

diagnosed for depression and anxiety.

Then, on May 7, five months after the shooting, the LA Times published a story, “A

Case Against Liberty” by Alex Raksin and Bob Sipchen. Their story claimed, for

the first time, that Thorpe was paranoid and refusing to take his medications. The

story won them a Pulitzer Prize and set the tone for all the articles that followed

At his trial in 2003, his defense psychologist, Donald Stembridge, testified that at the

time of the shooting Thorpe was taking his prescribed anti-depressants, and that the

anti-depressants “would have worsened his condition”.

This revelation did not change the news stories claiming that Thorpe was refusing

treatment, and all the major California news outlets jumped on the bandwagon

claiming that passage of Laura’s Law would have prevented the crime. Yet even

Laura Wilcox’s parents testified that the law wouldn’t have worked for Thorpe

because he didn’t meet criteria for treatment under provisions of the law.

Yet within a year and a half of the crime, all the press was circulating stories that

Thorpe had been “repeatedly refusing treatment and medication” [e.g. article by

Annette Wells in the San Bernadino Sun in mid-2003]. This became the mantra

used to create Laura’s Law.

THEREFORE, ALL WE THOUGHT WE KNEW ABOUT LAURA’S LAW ISN’T TRUE

1) SCOTT THORPE WASN’T REFUSING TREATMENT;

2) SCOTT THORPE WAS TAKING HIS MEDICATION, AN ANTI-
DEPRESSANT, AT THE TIME OF THE SHOOTINGS;

3) IT WAS THE NEWS MEDIA, WORKING WITH OFT-QUOTED

SPOKESPERSONS FOR THE TREATMENT ADVOCAY CENTER

(TAC), THAT CREATED THE STORY OF THE TREATMENT-
REFUSING MENTAL PATIENT.

 

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