LINDENHURST, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It made headlines as a house of horrors – an unthinkably vile home on Long Island where a mother raised three children in shocking conditions.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported exclusively Monday, the case has gone to court. One of the children, now grown, blames her school and government for failing to recognize signs of abuse and neglect.
Life growing up was anything but normal for Cecelia Young and her two sisters.
“We were among filth and a mess. It was really — it was disgusting,” Young said. “But here I am thinking at that point, you know, this is the norm.”
Young and her sisters were sounded by hundreds of bottles filled with their own waste.
“We had to urinate in Styrofoam cups and, you know, like, those party cups; those red cups,” Young said.
But they could never tell anyone about the situation.
“It was a secret – it was like a big secret,” she said.
The Lindenhurst home they shared with their mother was also filled with bags of feces. Used toilet paper was piled to the ceiling.
“I got used to that smell, and I knew I smelled like it,” Young said.
There was no running water.
“Abruptly, it was freezing,” Young said. “You know, we were freezing for a couple of years there.”
Now 18, Young has spoken out for the first time, saying the system failed her.
“They failed to recognize that three little girls were being abused — blatantly. You could see,” Young said.
Obvious signs, she said, were ignored.
“I looked like a very sickly little girl,” Young said. “I was 50 pounds and my teeth were screwed up.”
Young was perpetually absent from school, and hungry.
“I would go to school and think, like, ‘What am I going to eat tonight? You know, what am I going to do?’” she said.
Eight years after the house of horrors came to light, Young has filed a lawsuit against her Catholic school – Our Lady of Perpetual Help – as well as Suffolk County police, and Suffolk County social services. She said the safety nets failed.
“Nobody took the action; nobody took the responsibility to even ask me,” she said.
Their father, meanwhile, was barred from seeing the girls. He was fighting false sex abuse charges that he said were orchestrated by his estranged wife.
But Raymond Young feared something was terribly wrong inside the house he still owned.
“I was hoping that it wasn’t going to be that bad, but it was, you know, like my worst nightmare when I walked in,” he said.
Tipped by his neighbors that his children were sleeping in a car, he broke into the house in February 2007, what he found as beyond belief.
“I saw dead animals. I saw bottles of fecal matter and urine, and the overwhelming stench – just that smell of death was in the house,” Raymond Young said.
His estranged wife, Deborah Young, later pleaded guilty to neglect – admitting to mental health problems.
The daughters now live with their father, who still agonizes over what went wrong.
“I want to know why they did nothing; why they didn’t help,” Raymond Young said.
“They had their blinders on, you know?” Cecelia Young added.
“I always, like, Monday morning-quarterback and say,’ I should’ve gone; I could have went in,’” Raymond Young said.
Cecelia, now a college student, said her lawsuit is all for the right reasons.
“I want to make sure that this never, ever happens to another little boy or girl ever again,” she said.
Neither Suffolk County nor its police department would comment on the case because of the pending lawsuit. The Diocese of Rockville Centre, which ran the school the young attended, also declined to comment on a pending lawsuit.
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