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The Cassie Foundation "dedicated to the prevention of teen domestic violence"

The Cassie Foundation was established in the memory of Cassandra "Cassie" Marie Dehl a 17 year old high school senior who was killed when her older abusive boyfriend drove his truck off of a mountainous US Forest Service Road.

Cassie endured almost 3 years of reported abuse at the hands of her abusive boyfriend.

This is Cassie's story.

In 1997 Cassie started dating a young man. Even though he was 3 years older than she was, her family knew his family from church and they started dating in group date situations going to things like school dances. Most of what we know we learned after Cassie's abuse had already been going on for more than a year and she was already in deep denial. The abuse started with verbal and mental abuse. Lowering her self-esteem, making her think that she was not pretty enough, smart enough, or good enough for anyone to love. It continued with manipulation that tried to alienate her from her family and friends. Once a wedge had been inserted between Cassie and her family and friends, the physical abuse began.

In the spring of 1998 Cassie was strangled until blood ran from her ears and nose, enough blood to ruin the white coat she was wearing. Cassie's father intercepted a letter from her abuser almost six weeks later. He had just learned of the strangulation a few days earlier from a concerned friend of Cassie's. In this letter her abuser said, “ I am sorry for almost killing you. I was on crank for the last week, stoned off my mind, and drunk and you know as well as anyone you don't try to stop me from doing something when I am like that. I was choking you because you were being so loud and I had to shut you up so I could just talk to you about me and you going back out together but when you wouldn't be quiet it made me go insane.” In his own handwriting he admitted trying to kill her, drug usage and he manipulated her into thinking it was her fault. In another letter that is too graphic to quote from, he talked about slitting her throat and kissing her wounds while she cried until she died and then sucking her dying blood from her wounds. These letters where given to the Police Department, the County Prosecutor, the County Probation Department, County Judges and the abuser's parents along with complaints from her father and mother.

There were also other incidents of abuse documented by several witnesses to the Police Department. These included an incident where he strangled Cassie and tried to throw her off of a 2nd story balcony, an incident where he strangled her and was beating her head against the hood of his truck in the middle of downtown, and an incident where he was sitting on her holding her by the neck with one hand while punching her with the other hand. Her abuser also told her sisters Lindsey and Michaela and a longtime family friend that he was going to kill them if they didn't stop trying to keep her away from him. This was also reported.

Many people have asked why Cassie just didn't refuse to see her abuser. We can't stress enough that Cassie was a sweet wonderful girl and she was an innocent victim. In Cassie's mind, she was in love with this man. She met him when she was young and he had begun to control and manipulate her long before the physical abuse started. He had such a hold over her that she was as helpless to leave him, as were her family when they tried to get help for her. Cassie was as much a victim of “battered wife syndrome” as any woman who had been married or lived with their abuser. Please think how you would feel if your sixteen-year-old child said to you what Cassie said to her mother at least 20 times. When her mother tried to talk to her about his abuse of her, Cassie would look her in the face and say, “Mom if I was only better he wouldn't have to hit me!”

As parents of their minor daughter they repeatedly went to the local police for help, they went to the prosecutor, they went to the probation officers since there was a probation order to keep this abuser away from their daughter, they went to his parents, they went to him. They begged, they pleaded, they cried and they threatened, and they still could not keep this man from hurting their daughter. We believe as parents they were proactive; they put Cassie into domestic abuse counseling twice with two different counselors. They never allowed her abuser to see Cassie, but he would take her from school, from her work. He would take her out of town for the weekend; he took her out of state. All of these things without their permission. The domestic abuse counselors told her parents that they needed to “break this relationship” so they could then help Cassie with counseling. Her parents continued trying to get someone, anyone to help them. They went to the police, the prosecutor, the probation officer, the local magistrate judge, and the 6th District judge begging for help again. They even turned their own daughter in as a runaway and sent her to detention just to keep him from her.

For the family the final frustration before Cassie's death was after filing a domestic violence protection order with a judge from the 6th Judicial District and being told that they had all the evidence that they needed to prove abuse but the order was denied because there just wasn't any Idaho Law to protect their daughter with a protection order. Last fall Cassie's mother spoke with the Police Department one final time and begged and cried in their office while she told them that this man was going to kill her daughter and no one would help her. Even though one of their own officers admitted knowing that Cassie had been strangled, as a parent she still could not get any help, from anyone, to save her minor daughter's life.

On the day of Friday, December 3, 1999 Cassie attended High School and then went to her job as a waitress at a local restaurant. After work she went to her dad's home and did her household chores so she could spend the night with a girlfriend. She arrived at the girlfriend's around 10:30 p.m. At 11:15 p.m. after allegedly drinking and smoking marijuana for most of the day, Cassie's boyfriend picked her up to drive downtown for a few minutes. He didn't even allow her to get her coat out of her car. A little over one hour later, shortly after midnight the truck he was driving plunged 400 feet off a forest service road in the mountains. Cassie's abusive boyfriend was only slightly injured with a broken wrist. It have been told that reported in offical statements that Cassie was walking and talking after the wreck, but the wreck was not reported for more than 15 hours and the fact that Cassie was in the wreck and was left at the scene was not reported for nearly 18 hours. When the County Sheriff's department arrived on the scene, Cassie a beautiful 17-year-old girl, who wanted to be a 1st grade school teacher was dead, her body frozen solid.

The Cassie Foundation realizes that this has been a long story, but we felt it was important that you know part of Cassie's story and how hard her family and friends all tried to save her life. We believe that if Idaho Domestic Violence laws would have provided protection for those in abusive dating relationships, Cassie's parents acting in their parental guardianship of their minor daughter would have been issued a domestic violence restraining order and Cassie would be alive today. She would not have been in her abusive boyfriend's truck that night and Idaho and this nation would have one less grieving family today.

The Cassie Foundation believes one of the major reasons that Cassie's family ran up against so many walls and closed doors while seeking help for Cassie was due to lack of education and funding in respect to domestic violence issues, especially those involving a teenage girl in a dating situation. The authorities, even those in the law enforcement field did not understand domestic dating violence issues. They felt that because Cassie Dehl was a 17-year-old high school senior who lived at home she could not be domestically abused. We as a nation must begin to address Domestic Violence in a proactive manner. With the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women's Act with Idaho's language from Cassie's Law added to include dating relationships, along with the passage of Cassie's Law in Idaho and similar laws in other states, if even one life is saved, then the years of meaningless abuse that this wonderful daughter, sister, granddaughter, and friend went through will not be in vain.

Help us prevent dating violence, please contact us for further information or help in your own situations.