Monday, August 24, 2009

Seung-Hui Cho's Medical Records Released; Virginia Tech Families Continue Quest for Truth and Accountability

The recently released mental health records of Virginia Tech killer Seung-Hui Cho reveal that the Virginia Tech Cook Counseling Center had numerous opportunities to deal with Cho's mental instability and apparently dropped the ball, according to a lawyer for the families' of Julia Pryde and Erin Peterson, students killed in the April 2007 Virginia Tech tragedy.

In an August 21, 2009 article by Richmond Times-Dispatch Reporter David Ress, the families' lawyer says the records challenge the university's claim that Cho was dealt with properly.

Excerpt reprinted from

Families say files contradict Va. Tech

August 21, 2009


"The records are remarkable for what they don't contain," the families' Reston-based lawyer, Robert T. Hall, said.

Tech released two sets of medical records Wednesday — one from the university's Cook Counseling Center, the other discovered last month in the home of the center's former director.

Cho shot and killed 32 students and professors on April 16, 2007, before killing himself.

About seven months before that, the counseling center advised Associate Dean Mary Ann Lewis that staff members could find no mental-health history on Cho, according to legal papers filed in Blacksburg by the families yesterday. Lewis asked the counseling center about Cho's history in September 2006, after a professor asked Lewis for help in dealing with the troubled student.

The legal papers formally ask Robert C. Miller, the former director of the counseling center, to admit:

  • That Tech's director of residence life, Gerald Kowalski, told Miller that a judge found Cho to be an imminent danger to himself or others on Dec. 14, 2005, and that Cho had kept knives in his dorm room and had a history of erratic behavior.
  • That a counselor spent only 30 minutes with Cho after the judge's finding, which included a court order that Cho get mental-health care. That order and her session with Cho were on Dec. 14, 2005.
  • That the counselor did not try to make any diagnosis of Cho or arrange for any follow-up care.
  • That counseling center staff rated Cho as "troubled" and needing follow-up within two weeks after he called the center on Nov. 30, 2005, to say he was depressed and having panic attacks.
  • That Miller was aware of an incident earlier in 2005 that led Tech professor Nikki Giovanni to demand he be removed from her class.

Hall said the families of Erin Peterson and Julia Pryde, two of Cho's victims, believe those were among the facts that Miller should have known. The families are claiming that Miller, along with several other university officials and the university itself, were negligent in monitoring and treating Cho.

Hall said the families are disputing an assertion by Tech that the counseling center acted appropriately and offered to provide treatment to him.

Miller's lawyer, Edward J. McNelis III, said Miller has sworn under oath that he inadvertently removed the Cho file and added that the families' request for admissions from Miller are not facts but only contentions about what Miller knew. He said Miller is confident that the allegations against him by the families will be proven false in court.

According to the released records, Virginia Tech's Cook Counseling Center was made aware of Seung-Hui Cho's problems as early as November 30, 2005, nearly a year and a half before the April 16, 2007 tragedy where he took the life of 32 students and teachers as well as his own. The failure to recognize the warning signs of Cho's seriously troubled mental state must be fully investigated as the quest for truth and accountability continues.


Families say files contradict Va. Tech Click here to visit site
Tech Gunman's Records Reveal Lack of Treatment Click here to visit site
Attorneys: Medical Records Show gaps in Tech's monitoring of Cho Click here to visit site
Cook director in possession of Cho's records was fired Click here to visit site
Virginia Tech Blogs Click here to visit site

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