Raised by a Tyrant, Suffering a Sibling's Abuse

Genie and John, who were five years apart, lived under the violent rule of a paranoid father who kept a gun in his lap as a means of intimidation. While his sister was locked away in the bedroom and hit for crying, her older brother suffered intermittent beatings and was ordered by his father to be the family's sentry guard, to help hide the gruesome secret.

"My house was like a concentration camp," said Wiley, whose confessions were confirmed by numerous interviews with researchers and police. "I never knew what normal was."

Much as Genie's experience hinted at the future awaiting the long-imprisoned Austrian children, John's story is a reminder that abuse has tentacles that reach deep into families and rarely leads to happy endings.

In an evaluation of Genie's case by medical researchers, logs in the Special Collection library at UCLA noted that John had been "written off" early in the child abuse investigation.

"[John] was as much a victim of the family dynamics as the younger sister was," said retired detective Frank Linley, who arrested Clark and Irene Wiley for child abuse in 1970. "But he was so little a part of the direction of the case. Unfortunately, we never really paid attention to him."

"The case comes back to haunt me," said Linley, who now lives in Washington state.

Living in a Shrine, and a Prison

After witnessing his grandmother's death, John and his family moved into her two-bedroom Temple City, Calif., home, and Clark Wiley blamed the boy for his mother's death.

Genie, who was born in 1957, was only 20 months old when Clark, believing she was mentally retarded, confined her to one of the bedrooms. According to John, the other bedroom went unused and was kept as a shrine to his grandmother, a single woman who ran a bordello in the Pacific Northwest.

The rest of the family slept in the living room — Clark in a recliner, his wife in a chair at the dining room table, and John on the floor.

As John reached adolescence, his father punished him for his growing sexuality, tying his legs to a chair and pounding his testicles with the same "one-by-three-foot board" he used to beat Genie each time she made a noise.

"I don't think he wanted me to have children, and it's a wonder I did," said John, whose beatings continued throughout his teen years. "He would write me a note excusing me from gym so the kids didn't see my privates in the showers."

Police Find Appalling Conditions

By the time Genie's plight was discovered by police, John, then 18, had run away from home, terrified of a father who was increasingly angry and violent. Irene escaped with Genie to her parents in 1970. One day she brought the 13-year-old to welfare offices, mistakenly seeking assistance for the blind. Authorities tipped off police after observing Genie's odd behavior.

Arriving at the Wiley's home, arresting officer Linley said the conditions he found at the house were appalling.

Genie "slept in a crib formed with chicken wire attached with a latch," he said. "It was a cage for the child. The window was covered with aluminum foil to reflect out the sunlight. The room was a dark as a coal mine at midnight."

Police found meticulous logs, noting each time the paranoid father locked a door or shrouded the windows from nosy neighbors. "He was a total dictator in the house," Linley said of Clark Wiley. "His word was law. Hitler could have taken lessons from him."

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