1 week later, SLED to meet internally on mental records database

by Stacy Jacobson and Lia{}and

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - State law enforcement officials will meet internally to discuss a mental health record system and how it would work in South Carolina.

Many people say a mental health database may have prevented Alice Boland from every purchasing a gun. Lawmakers and mental health experts see last week's event at Ashley Hall as a time to act. The state's Department of Mental Health says record reporting needs to come through the courts, much like other states.

"We do support a creation of a system for the records. We just support a system where the records go from court to SLED to the FBI and the one position that we do have, just like other states, mental health records that are transmitted to the law enforcement agency for further transmission to the FBI should be kept separate from other law enforcement records," said Mark Binkley.

Binkley said it could get tricky for reporting the records in some areas, specifically in rural parts of the state that don't digitize court documents, which means they may need a lot more manpower to monitor records.

"The information contained in the standard medical record should be of sufficient detail to allow the medical team to provide the highest quality of care. Having knowledge of a patient's medical background, including mental health conditions and their treatment, is important to provide excellent and safe medical care," said Dr. Thomas Uhde, Chairman of the MUSC Department of Psychiatry{}and Behavioral Sciences and Executive Director of the Institute of Psychiatry. "Just like any physical disease, mental illnesses are medical conditions and the absence of information about them in the medical record only contributes to inadequate and possibly unsafe treatment."

Questions of records, privacy, policy and family

It's been one week since the incident at Ashley Hall and lawmakers are one by one commenting on the matter. On Monday, Tim Scott said he does not think new laws are the answer to preventing similar incidents, especially those concerning privacy and health records.

"I mean, if she purchased (the gun) legally, then she did. I can't tell you whether she should have been able to or not been able to," he said. "The great challenge is one of privacy."

It's clear now that South Carolina lacks a database to share mental health records with the federal government and that may be how Alice Boland legally bought a gun from the Walterboro Gun shop three days before showing up at Ashley Hall.

ATF spokesman Earl Woodham said Boland is not being charged because her legal record is clean. She pleaded guilty by reason of insanity in 2005, but those charges were later dropped.

"She was not convicted of a felony. She was not declared mentally incompetent or a defect, in other words an insane person. So when she checked she was not, she was not lying," said Woodham.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley is drafting a letter to state lawmakers calling for the creation of a database which would keep track of people with serious mental health problems and report them to the federal government to use in background checks.

But Scott says that could violate Constitutional rights.

"This whole notion of collaboration and sharing information needs to have a focus on maintaining privacy of patients while serving challenges we face," Scott said.

He said society and families offer a better solution, but those answers are not up to politicians.

"It's (a question of) how do we transform our culture into a place where we don't celebrate violence? I don't know how to do that from the legal standpoint," he said.

Scott added that he's reached out to a few state lawmakers about improving communication with the federal government and plans to speak with more.

The National Rifle Association said Monday evening that it has always supported efforts to improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check system.

"The 23 states that do not currently submit records of those who are mentally ill with violent tendencies should take the appropriate steps to do so immediately," the gun organization said. "Along with improving school safety and prosecuting criminals who misuse firearms, this will make all of us safer."


Two more lawsuits involving Alice Boland emerge

Two more lawsuits filed by Alice Boland's parents in 2004 paint a picture of a healthy teenager who left home for college to battle harassment and hazing.

The ordeal forced young Boland into a medical leave of absence from the College of Charleston in the fall of 2002, Donald and Dellann Boland alleged in the lawsuits. The Bolands sought $100 million in damages. {}

According to one of the lawsuits, Boland's experiences in a residence hall at CofC included "acts of bigotry" by residence hall administrators because of Alice Boland's "thick dark hair, heavy eye brows and pale skin."

The suit also claims Alice Boland's roommate deprived her of access to their room through sexual harassment, but the suit did not detail the abuses.

Alice Boland's time at CofC appeared to come to a head in November 2002 when the suit alleged she was led out of the residence hall in handcuffs by Public Safety officers and taken to Charleston Memorial Hospital because she was threatening to hurt herself "without any documentation that she did any acts of harm to herself either with weapons or any kind of substance abuse."

The suit goes on to claim that the school committed insurance fraud and an "administrative conspiracy" through failing to provide health insurance to the hospital and failing to notify Donald and Dellann Boland school officials were moving their daughter to the hospital.

The College confirmed onMonday that Alice Boland attended the school during the summer and fall of 2002.

Along with the College of Charleston, the Medical University of South Carolina, G. Werber Bryan Psychiatric Hospital and the state of South Carolina were also named as defendants in the suit.

A second lawsuit filed about the same time against Dr. J. Wiley Dickerson, Beaufort Memorial Hospital, the state Department of Social Services, the state Department of Mental Health and the state of South Carolina claims Dickerson overmedicated Alice Boland on Zyprexa, a drug used to treat bipolar disorder of schizophrenia.

The suit claims that Dickerson provided information to the College of Charleston that led to Alice Boland's arrest.

According to the lawsuit, Alice Boland was prescribed Haldol and Abilify, which left her in a catatonic state for six months.

Before the alleged arrest and involuntary hospitalization, the Bolands claim their daughter was a bright student who earned nearly a semester of college-level credit in Advanced Placement classes and had a 3.55 GPA at CofC. Then, a series of events "maimed and disabled" Alice Boland.

The lawsuits were dismissed less than a year later because the defendants in the case were not formally served by the Boland family.


A girl on the mend?

After a series of diagnoses that made Alice Boland out to be a schizophrenic in need of long-term, inpatient help that Donald and Dellann claim were wrong and done only to make money and not treat their daughter, she descended to a point of needing a feeding tube to stay alive.

The medications - which included antipsychotic drugs Ability, Zyprexa, Haldol and Risperdal - sent Alice Boland into a catatonic state, according to affidavits.

Then another doctor stepped in and prescribed fish oil and other nutritional supplements. While Alice Boland started eating again, going out and otherwise returning to a normal life of a 20-year-old woman, her parents said in the affidavit that she also battled with side effects of the antipsychotic drugs that caused her to lash out with hostile behavior.

She was readmitted to a hospital after running away from home again.

Records are unclear of when exactly Alice Boland was discharged from the hospital in 2004, but nearly a year later, she ended up in the Montreal airport, where she became agitated and verbally abusive, according to court documents.

She was arrested after making threats against the president.


Back to Charleston

Meanwhile, Alice Boland is still being held in the Al Cannon Detention Center with her bond set at $900,000.

She was charged last week with attempted murder, unlawful carrying of a firearm, possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime and two counts of pointing a firearm. The charges stem from a Feb. 4 incident at Ashley Hall School in downtown Charleston.

According to witnesses, Boland was pacing back and forth on the sidewalk in front of the school until school officials approached her. Then she pulled the gun and waved it at officials

At her bond hearing, Alice Boland said the incident at Ashley Hall was a political statement against racist feminists.

Boland will not be facing federal charges for the incident it was announced Friday by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

There was speculation that Alice Boland would face federal charges before the ATF's announcement based on 2005 charges against her for threatening to shoot and kill then-President George W. Bush.

Those charges were dropped in 2009 after she pleaded guilty by reason of insanity.

Her parents have not commented publicly at length on the Ashley Hall incident. She was assigned a public defender last week.