How ‘world’s most abused child’ Genie was subjected to secret experiments in bid to crack mysteries of her youth

How ‘world’s most abused child’ Genie was subjected to secret experiments in bid to crack mysteries of her youth

  • Updated: 17:02, 1 Oct 2021

A LITTLE girl who became known across America as the "world's most abused child" was subjected to secret experiments by scientists after she was rescued by police.

After spending her short life being abused by her father, Genie would be allegedly "exploited" again by teams of scientists eager to probe her behaviour.

5The 13-year-old girl, who spent her short life tormented by her family, was then subjected to secret experiments
5Genie's abuse was so severe that she was unable to talk or walk at the age of 13
5When she was taken into the care of the Government, Genie had the mental development of a 12 to 18-month-old

When she was rescued by welfare officials in 1970, Genie – given the pseudonym to protect her identity- had suffered such severe abuse and neglect from her mother and father that she was unable to speak or walk.

Genie was locked in her bedroom at just 20 months old by her father Clark who suspected she was mentally disabled.

During this time, he had her tied in a handmade straitjacket and strapped to a chair in their suburban home.

The little girl was either bound to her toilet or in her crib completely naked.

At night time she was locked inside a crib with a wire cover.

Whenever she made noise, her father would bark at the little girl or ferociously beat her.

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Clark had forced his daughter to a life of social isolation, not allowing her mother and brother to speak with her.

Genie was also left severely malnourished after she was fed on almost an entirely liquid diet.

Her toys were cottage cheese containers, copies of TV Guide stripped of the illustrations and plastic raincoats.

The 13-year-old girl, who spent her short life tormented by her family, was then subjected to secret experiments by psychiatrists, linguists and psychologists who saw her as a "natural experiment".

Genie's case was so scientifically important that the US government paid a team of scientists to help answer the many questions she posted.

At the age of 13, Genie had the mental age of a 12 to 18-month-old.

Because Genie had heard almost no words except the phrases "stop it" and "no more" she would be a fountain of knowledge to scientists who wished to learn more about childhood development.


After a long stint in hospital, Genie was handed around to scientists and foster parents to live with until her 18th birthday.

At first, Genie was placed in the care of Jeanne Butler – one of the hospital's rehabilitation therapists.

In that short time, Genie flourished but unfortunately was unable to stay long due to the Department of Public Social Service's policy which prohibited patients to live in the homes of hospital workers.

Genie was then moved from home to home of various therapists who had met her in the Los Angeles hospital.

She spent the rest of her childhood hooked up to hospital machines and partaking in experiments with scientists posing as caring parental figures.

One person who worked on Genie's case called her teenage years a clear example of exploitation.

"What I saw happen with Genie was a pretty crass form of exploitation," the unnamed person said.

"I had to realize that I was part of it and swear to refrain.


"It turned out that Genie, who had been so terribly abused, was exploited all over again.

"She was exploited extra-familially just as she was exploited intra-familially-just by a different cast of characters, of which I'm sorry to say I was one."

As Genie's condition deteriorated, her mother decided the scientists had become too close to the young girl and filed a lawsuit against them.

She was prevented by the court from seeing the experts that had conducted secret experiments on her in the name of science.

At the age of 18, Genie moved back in with her mother but was relocated to an adult care home soon after.

Genie's whereabouts are to this day unknown but reports have claimed that she was hidden away in an institution in Los Angeles.

5Genie was handed around to scientists until the age of 18Credit: TLC
5Her whereabouts now are unknown but some reports suggest she is in an adult care home in Los AngelesCredit: Getty
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