Three students in Florida died after being hypnotized, not by a therapist, but by their then-principal. The families of the teens have settled with the school district, and each family will be receiving $200,000.
Four years ago, former principal of North Port High School, George Kenney, hypnotized Brittany Palumbo, 17, Wesley McKinley, 16, and Marcus Freeman, 16. Although there is no link between the deaths and the hypnosis, each death came very shortly after the students were hypnotized by their principal.
McKinley committed suicide in April 2011, Palumbo committed suicide, and Freeman was killed in a car accident in 2011. The accident came after Freeman hypnotized himself as taught by Kenney. The ex-principal taught Freeman how to hypnotize himself to concentrate on his playing during football games.
An investigation uncovered that Kenney had performed hypnosis on 75 students or more. He also hypnotized staff members and others. Kenney performed these sessions from 2006 until McKinley’s death. During the investigation, one student claimed to have been hypnotized 40 or more times.
Kenney was placed on leave from the high school in 2011. He officially resigned in 2012, served one year of probation, and was prohibited from practicing the art of hypnosis without a license. The former principal gave up his teaching license in 2013 and is unable to apply for a new one.
Damian Mallard, one of the attorneys representing the families, said, “The thing that is most disappointing to them [the families] is that he never apologized, never admitted wrongdoing and is now living comfortably in retirement in North Carolina with his pension.”
The settlement awarded to the families was unanimously approved by the Sarasota County School District’s Board. Had the settlement not been approved, the civil suit against the district would have moved forward and into trial this week.