Victims Deal With Emotions After Facing Sacklers

Purdue owners had to sit through family statements
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 12, 2022 1:55 PM CST
Victims Deal With Emotions After Facing Sacklers
Dede Yoder displays a photo of her son, Chris Yoder, after addressing the Sacklers on Thursday. "Being part of this court record is very important," she said. She used to swear at the family as she drove by Purdue's headquarters near her home in Connecticut.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

After telling the Sacklers how they and family members had suffered from or lost relatives to opioid addiction, some of the roughly two dozen people who made court statements Thursday were left to deal with the emotions and assess the value of the confrontations. Some who spoke emerged exhausted, others angry, others relieved, and all unsure whether the Sacklers had been moved, the AP reports. The owners of OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma weren't allowed to respond during the session. "They just sat there, alone but stone-faced, and never changed their expression, never," said Stephanie Lubinski, who lost her husband to addiction.

Still, several people who gave statements said that they valued being able to speak for their lost loved ones and show solidarity, and that they had achieved a grain of resolution. "I can feel, as a mother, that my son was seen and heard by the family," said Kara Trainor, who became addicted soon after getting an OxyContin prescription. "It's going to be part of my healing and part of a closure of 20 years, finally being able to be heard." One after another, victims logged in from Hawaii to New Hampshire on Thursday with accounts of surgeries and illnesses that led to OxyContin prescriptions, followed by dependency, despair, rounds of drug-abuse treatment, personal and financial ruin and, often, death by overdose or suicide.

Richard Sackler listened by phone. His son, David Sackler, and another family member, Theresa Sackler, appeared on camera. The Sacklers have never unequivocally apologized. To Tiffinee Scott, who lost her daughter, the point of the session was the impact of the families' unity and their joint message. "For once, we felt to have a sense of power over privilege, as it pertains to the Sacklers," Scott said. Jill Cichowicz, who lost her twin brother, said she had thought for a long time about what she might say to the Sacklers if she ever got the chance. "And then, when you're actually in the room facing them, eye-to-eye, you're not as angry. You're hurt," Cichowicz said. "It was a sense of closure, but in the same sense, I'm still suffering, being hurt by their actions."

(Read more Sackler stories.)

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