Talea’s story begins on 17 November 2002 and ends on 18 March 2008. The little girl from Wuppertal, Germany died at the age of five. Contrary to other fates, Talea’s mother (not a member of the church) had contacted the Youth Welfare Office herself with a request for help: She was alcoholic and between her and her boyfriend, Talea’s father, there were repeated fights, which Talea and her younger sister had to watch helplessly. After Talea’s mother called for help, the Youth Welfare Office placed the two sisters in different foster families at the beginning of September 2007. Whether with or without the consent of the parents could not be completely clarified. In the reports the details are contradictory.
Talea came to a Mormon foster mother, Sister K. G., a member of the Mormon Wuppertal Ward, who was supposed to protect her. But exactly this woman was later described by witnesses in the court as heartless, resolute and controlled. In the presence of the little girl, she said to a pediatrician: “She was only supposed to stay six weeks. She’s been there far too long. She has to leave again.” This statement, which degraded Talea to an object, seemed to be symptomatic of the foster mother’s weeks of contact with the child. At first many things went unnoticed. Her biological parents first noticed her almost uncanny impeccable manners during the regulated contact with her daughter – Talea sat straight as a die at the table, asked if she could have something, in short: She suddenly behaved over-adapted.
The fact that the girl was already marked by hematomas at this point was not noticed by her biological mother until later. The bruises also made the kindergarten teachers suspicious. Probably as early as November 2007, the abuse of Talea by her Mormon foster mother began, but it was not until January 2008 that there were always conspicuous new injuries, and they were also repeatedly reported to the Youth Welfare Office. However, Talea’s foster mother always had good reasons for this, also in the Youth Welfare Office interviews: The child fell, had pushed herself, had a visual impairment and therefore fell down more often, got a building block in her eye and so on. During her visits, the youth welfare officer only noticed minor injuries, one bite wound caused by the dog of the Mormon foster family. The note in the file said succinctly that the child could not handle the dog. Once the girl confided to an educator that her foster mother had kicked her. Again the youth welfare department was informed, again there was no need for action – Talea’s time of suffering continued.
Until 18 March the little girl received no help and on that day the situation escalated. In retrospect, it seems likely that Talea’s foster mother dragged the child into the bathroom to punish her for wetting herself, put her in the bathtub, shut her mouth and nose to stifle her screams, and showered her ice cold. Then she simply left the girl lying in the bathtub. Talea’s little body couldn’t take it. She eventually died of hypothermia. The Mormon foster mother dialed the emergency call, but the rescue workers could not help Talea anymore. When the completely soaked child arrived at the hospital by ambulance, her body temperature was just 27 degrees Celsius. The coroners later found countless traces of violence on the small body. Bruises on the ear, on the eye, on the cheeks, on the arms. The profile of a shoe sole was also documented.
During the trial, the pediatrician testified that Talea had been completely traumatized during her only visit in January 2008 and had hardly reacted to her. The kindergarten teachers at the institution where Talea went reported that the Mormon foster mother was not warm and that her remarks about the child were unkind.
Since Talea always wanted to be a little princess, she was buried in a pink coffin on 26 March 2008 at the Unterbarmer cemetery in Wuppertal.
The prosecution demanded 11 years imprisonment, the defense an acquittal.
The Mormon foster mother, who only broke her silence in the course of the trial and denied being to blame for the death of the little girl, was found guilty of bodily injury resulting in her death and the maltreatment of those under her protection and sentenced to eight years imprisonment. The Regional Court of Wuppertal was unable to establish a resolution to kill.
The public prosecutor’s office had still initiated a preliminary investigation against two officials of the youth welfare department because of negligent killing by omission. The court saw no legally relevant joint guilt with the responsible youth welfare office – it was only determined that this could have reacted more consistently.
The proceedings were thus discontinued.
Both the prosecution and the defense appealed. Also the side action. She represented the parents. However, the Federal Supreme Court later confirmed the verdict against the foster mother and it thus became final.
The Mormon Church:
In the Mormon ward the victim was hushed up and the perpetrator Sister Kaja Gessner was supported by the Mormon church even in court. The Mormon Church didn’t want any bad press by linking Sister Kaja Gessner to the Mormon church. Even in prison the perpetrator was visited regular by ward members and when she got out of prison she was taken back into the congregation as if nothing had happened. No disciplinary council. Nobody grieved for the victim a little five-year-old girl. Victims are unpleasant to the church. As soon as problems arise, they are talked down and the victims of this church are rejected. About 90 Mormons had to testify in court for Sister Kaja Gessner. The church prevented truthful statements in court and no one apologized to the bereaved. It was obvious to everyone in the church how the later victim was treated by the foster parents and no one cared. Talea was another victim of the Mormon Church an it’s predators.
The case was picked up by German media, but no relationship to the Mormon church was ever established. I hope you can help to make this story public via media in Utah and establish the link to the Mormon church.