Nicholas Alahverdian would one day become a Harvard University student. However, he followed the long path.
Alahverdian got employed at the age of fourteen to work in the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations as a legislative aide for the House of Representatives. All he wanted was to have a formal education in addition to having a job at his State House. Nicolas derived pleasure working in the House Chamber and being a servant to the members of the RI General Assembly.
A Bad Family
Alahverdian had one major problem – his mother was an alcoholic. His mother and stepfather were alcohol abusers and excessively drank alcohol when they were together; and after they split, his mother’s heavy drinking attitude became worse. It worsened even more after Alahverdian grandfather’s death.
She neglected his education and cared less about taking him to school. Instead, he spent most of his days at the library and made the Capitol where he spent his afternoon. Nicholas Alavherdian used the RIPTA bus to shuttle home and the Rhode Island State House. He would go to downtown Providence on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays; whenever a meeting is held between the House and Senate for legislative business in addition to committee hearings.
Mr. Alahverdian goes to Smith Hill
Many people would look at working in the labyrinth, the Rhode Island State House as daunting and stressful. Nicholas being a fast learner, did not, in any way, feel that way. He fleetly learned how a bill gradually became a law, who were actually the power players, which clerical staff had the upper hand of putting a bill first in the committee docket, and other things that people in his position take many years to learn. Alahverdian was taught by the best.
Alahverdian won the heart of the legislators he worked with at Rhode Island. He got invitations to fundraisers, and the senators and representatives enjoyed his presence.
Being aware that most times he went hungry because of his mother’ alcoholism, the state legislators gave him money sometimes and even invited him for dinners at their homes. They wanted to ensure that he had basic life necessities.
Nicholas experienced abuse and negligence at home, and that was obvious. But what took place next would be a severe case of child torture and abuse the child welfare system has ever witnessed. Alahverdian demanded a normal and consistent school placement. That happened after he was removed from his mother’s care for her incompetence.
“You’re A waste of taxpayer’s money!”
Among the officials in charge of his case was Ron Razza, a corrupt social worker, who described Nicholas Alahverdian, a “waste of taxpayer’s money.”
Mike Burk, the same Michael S. Burk of the Tiverton, RI Democratic Party and longtime assistant to the Executive Director of DCYF, and other staff of DCYF went so far that they lobbied the state representatives to have him sacked from his job in the House of Representatives.
Nicholas Alahverdian decided to handle the matter by himself and left the Rhode Island House of Representatives Legislative Aide position for what he called “temporary leave of absence.”
Lobbying and advocacy
In 2002, Nicholas became a registered lobbyist and an advocator for foster care reform and permanent school placement. He advocated not just for himself alone but for the improvement of care for all children as well as adolescents in DCYF care. His registration as a lobbyist at that time made him the youngest lobbyist in the history of the State of Rhode Island.
Nicholas gave testimonies before committees and commissions. He explained in details the failures and pitfalls of the state agency which is duly in charge of caring for abused and neglected children. Alahverdian brought to light the wrongdoings of the workers. He made a great effort to make known the inconsistencies in providing education. That is because of the instability provided night-to-night placement.
Alahverdian kept up with his advocacy work while attending the night-to-night program where he was never permitted to have a permanent home and academic placement. Nicholas got the attention of many representatives and senators who insisted that a permanent home is found for him by order of Judge Jeremiah. But Judge Jeremiah along with Governor Carcieri had other plans for Alahverdian.
Nicholas Alahverdian continued to get more attention as the days went by. His case got featured in the providence journal NBC News, ABC News, CBS News, and Cumulus Broadcasting, among others. Nicholas even got scheduled to appear on The O’Reilly Factor as well as the Today show on NBC.
Enough Is Enough
At a point, the embarrassment became much for the Rhode Island officials. Judge Jeremiah, Director Jay Lindgren, Governor Donald L. Carcieri, and other corrupt officials, worked hard to get Alahverdian and his story out of the press to prevent their reputation from being destroyed.
Alahverdian got sent far away from home and every contact with home and anyone. He was refused contact with both layers and the legislators who had fought on his behalf. Alahverdian was not allowed to file a lawsuit or contact the courts for his release from confinement.
The Torture of Nicholas Alahverdian
When Nicholas Alahverdian got sent to Florida and Nebraska, the state officials were aware that these facilities were very dangerous. The officials got that knowledge through grand jury reports issued by the respective states utilizing what is known as the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.
What took Nicholas far away from home was a violation of Rhode Island General Laws in addition to U.S. federal law. Rhode Island law only states that a child be given slightest restrictive setting possible; instead, Alahverdian was placed many miles from home in places where he was denied opportunities to contact home and where he got beaten daily. He also got raped while in Florida facility till the case got to court.
The Bradenton Herald Reported On October 23, 2004:
A technician at Manatee Palms Youth Services, on Thursday, was arrested for sexually assaulting a 17-year-old male at the facility. Rhonda A. Smith, 23 accused of molesting the teenager on three (3) separate occasions based on the arrest report filed by Manatee County Sheriff’s Office. The report indicated that Smith was a clinical health technician at Manatee Palms Youth Services, placed there by Advance Personnel Services Inc which later made it known that she was no longer working with them. There were several other abusive cases reported about the Florida facility which got featured in newspapers and other publications.
Alahverdian was never released from the Florida facility despite his RI DCYF social worker demands to have him removed from the facility due to the severe torture he had to endure when she visited. The social worker explained in official reports that Nicholas was chemically sedated to the point that he could barely be recognized. Alahverdian was covered in contusions, scars, fresh bruises, broken teeth, fresh bruises, fingerprints around his neck, and black eyes.
Nicholas was left in the facility for six (6) more months as the beatings, torture, and abuse continued.
When Nicholas Alahverdian was finally released and brought back to Rhode Island in June 2005, he was totally a different person from whom he was earlier. He looked like a zombie. His cognitive functions, as well as motor skills, were weakened. Nicholas Alahverdian was a complete vegetable.
Alahverdian could neither read nor write. Nicholas was precisely where Judge Jeremiah and Governor Carcieri wanted him: firstly, in a place where he would not be able to expose the truth physically anymore. Secondly, in a mental state/condition that he would not be able to explain what happened to him in the Florida facility.
What happened to Nicholas Alahverdian should never in any way happen to any other child — anywhere — ever again.
Profile: Nicholas Alahverdian is a political activist and a Harvard-educated scholar. When he was an adolescent, Nicholas survived severe torture and serious abuse inflicted upon him by the Rhode Island government under the straight orders of a chief judge along with a governor after his political activism in opposition to their activities while Alahverdian was an employee of the Rhode Island House of Representatives.
Nicholas was sent far away from New England to two different facilities that had huge records of abuse, torture, and negligence. He was left against his wish to remain in these abusive facilities till his eighteen years birthday without the slightest privilege to contact anyone, go to school or even prepared for adulthood. Alahverdian endured and survived the torture, sued his abusers, settled his case in court, and studied at Harvard University.
The primary scholarly focus of Nicholas Alahverdian is the intersection of rhetoric, philology, and politics. He has, however, been featured in many publications such as The Providence Journal, NPR, NBC, BBC, CBS, and ABC News in addition to The Boston Globe, The Buddy Cianci Show, and countless other media entities.