by Stanley Azuakola
A 52-year-old American man, Randy Swopes, from the State of Illinois has pleaded guilty to one of the strangest of crimes – sewing his son’s buttocks shut with thread and needle. And no, it wasn’t because Mr. Randy was trying to protect his son from randy men who prey on small boys, but an attempt at home surgery for his son who had a medical condition called Crohn’s disease.
Instead of the maximum sentence of five years in prison usually handed down for aggravated assault, Swopes was sentenced to 24 months of probation and 250 hours of community service, because he accepted a special kind of plea bargain called the Alford plea. In an Alford plea, a defendant accepts that prosecutors have enough evidence to possibly win a conviction, but doesn’t necessarily admit guilt.
Swopes’ son suffers from Crohn’s Disease, an inflammatory bowel disease, which developed to a fistula in his case. A fistula is an abnormal tunnel connecting two body cavities that are not usually connected. Nigerians might be more conversant with a different kind of fistula, the Vesicovaginal fistula (VVF), which is common among Nigerian women with annual new cases of 12,000 and a backlog of 150,000. It is usually treated by surgery.
In the case of Swopes’ son, the fistula was on the buttocks and Swopes, who is not a doctor, decided to do the surgery himself. He got a thread and needle and sewed the fistula shut. Unfortunately, the home surgery did not work and the boy was hospitalized for a month before he recovered.
Here’s hoping people begin to take the warning ‘Do not try this at home’ more seriously.