Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 30
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
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Board Says Tenacre’s Security Plan Is Insufficient

Ellen Gilbert

While the attorney and security advisor for Tenacre Foundation appeared to have successfully addressed questions regarding on-campus security in its presentation to the Regional Planning Board last Thursday evening, there was unanimous agreement among board members that issues regarding the safety of residents and school children in the surrounding environment had all but been ignored.

The board had given its conditional approval to Tenacre’s request for building permits in February, asking that the Christian Science Ministry provide a plan detailing safety and security measures it planned to take in the wake of the 2003 stabbing of Great Road resident William Sword by Jelani Manigault, a 24-year-old man who was staying at the Tenacre compound at the time. Mr. Manigault was subsequently killed by police officers responding to a 911 call. Mr. Sword recovered from his multiple stab wounds, but is keeping a close eye on Tenacre activities.

“After five-and-a-half years they still haven’t adopted a security plan,” he commented on Friday morning. “They haven’t lived up to their promise. The Planning Board did as much as they possibly could and are to be commended for keeping up the pressure.”

While no representatives from Tenacre attended the Thursday evening meeting, Attorney Robert N. Ridolfi and security expert Gary J. Margolis tried to make a case for the facility, describing changes in variables such as vehicular access, parking arrangements, lighting, baseline risk assessments of incoming residents, and beefed-up relationships among staff and visitors that are all intended to forestall tragedies like the one that happened in 2003.

“You’ve got it backwards,” said board member Philip Feig when the presentation was over. “Your report has to do with closing and protecting the campus; how are you going to keep people on your campus and not let them into the community?”

Township Mayor Phyllis Marchand concurred, observing that “you’ve got a lot of security for people coming in, but not for those going out.”

On January 23, 2003, Mr. Manigault, who was staying at the Christian Science Center with his parents and a girlfriend, was reported to have suffered an anxiety or panic attack at about 1:30 a.m. Shortly afterward he drove away from the center in his parents’ car, which he crashed less than a mile away from Tenacre. He made his way to the Swords’ residence, and Mr. Sword, thinking the young man, whom he did not know, was hurt, invited him inside. Minutes later Mr. Manigault stabbed Mr. Sword several times with a 12-inch kitchen knife. It was later reported that earlier that day, Mr. Manigault’s parents had brought him to the Medical Center at Princeton where he was evaluated in the emergency room and discharged at 9:18 p.m.

In response to Mr. Margolis’s claim that only one person (Mr. Sword’s wife, Martha) bothered to show up for a meeting intended to hear the concerns of neighborhood residents, Mr. Sword noted that he had been out of town at the time of the meeting, for which they were given ten days notice. His wife reported that “nothing” was presented at the meeting, and there was “no follow-up.”

At the meeting Thursday evening Mr. Sword thanked the board for insisting that Tenacre come up with a security plan, but, like the board, he had serious reservations about the one they had just heard. Asking “how much of a survey” Mr. Margolis’s company had done on the history of the population at Tenacre, he pointed out that although the majority of Tenacre residents appear to be “elderly ladies,” there are also people there who are “deranged” and “in pain.” How does Tenacre handle them, he wondered, since Christian Science teachings preclude medical treatment of such individuals?

Both Mrs. Sword and board member Wanda Gunning noted that Tenacre staff had called each other and their administration in Chicago, and not 911, at the onset of the crisis.

Several board members suggested the use of monitoring bracelets or anklets that would keep track of potentially dangerous individuals on the campus. Mr. Rudolfi promised to bring that idea to Tenacre administrators. In the meantime, the board agreed to Regional Planning Board attorney Allen D. Porter’s suggestion that Tenacre come up with a full report responding to the concerns expressed that evening, as well as submitting an annual report showing “continued compliance” with security efforts. Although Tenacre’s building permit was ultimately approved, Mr. Ridolfi commented that his client was being asked to go “way over the line in terms of what is expected of an applicant.”

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