By Maurice Chammah
One morning in late 1986, Beverly Troupe approached her mother and said she felt a burning sensation when she urinated. This wasn’t the first time. LaVern Troupe had taken her 8-year-old daughter to the hospital with similar symptoms twice before: once in Germany, where they had lived earlier that year, and again in Killeen, where they were now stationed. LaVern’s husband, _____, served in the military as a telecommunications officer, and the family moved with him from base to base. LaVern and _____ had married five years earlier, when Beverly was 3, and had two boys and a girl together. Though he wasn’t her biological father, _____ considered Beverly his daughter.
He was running drills that morning at Fort Hood and LaVern was alone with the children when Beverly started complaining of pain. LaVern took her daughter to the Darnall Army Community Hospital at the base. A doctor examined Beverly, found nothing wrong and sent them home. But the pain didn’t go away. Beverly complained again that night, so her mother waited for _____ to get home and they returned to the hospital. They were young parents, in their mid-twenties, and the pediatrician who examined Beverly, Dr. Samuel Mujica, was 29. When he conducted a pelvic exam, Mujica noticed something unusual: Beverly, he scribbled in his notes, was missing her hymen. There were several small cuts around her vaginal area. She was “very reserved,” he later said. She wouldn’t laugh. She wouldn’t make eye contact. He came to suspect that she had been sexually abused.
Mujica decided that Beverly should stay the night, and he told _____ and LaVern about his findings. LaVern responded that her daughter had been playing with a rope swing across the street from their house with other children. Beverly was regularly bullied, Lavern explained, and, because she was small and had short hair, other kids would say she looked like a boy. So she would insist on wearing dresses, and when leaping onto the rope swing she would have little protection.
Beverly slept at the hospital that night. The next morning Mujica ordered more tests, which produced evidence of “lacerations” on her vagina. He brought in a gynecologist to examine Beverly, who was sedated, and together they estimated that the abrasions inside her vagina were less than three weeks old. “My opinion is that Beverly had a vagina that … compared to the vagina of a sexually active adult woman,” Mujica later said. “The only thing that could cause that is really penetration by some sort of object.”
Mujica—who did not return multiple calls to the Las Vegas hospital where he is now listed on staff—would later testify that the explanations offered by Beverly’s parents were not convincing. LaVern remembers it differently. “The doctors never acknowledged me and never noticed I was in the room,” she told me. Eventually she got a nurse to talk to her. What the nurse told her is seared into her memory: “Like a hooker,” the nurse said, “her cherry has been busted.”
- What kind of nurse uses these terms?
LaVern remembers “forgetting where I was.” She ran to the waiting room and told _____ what the nurse had said. He remembers standing up and shouting curses. He remembers being told he would be the primary suspect. The hospital called his company commander at Fort Hood, who ordered him to return to the barracks. LaVern took the other children home.
Mujica contacted the Department of Human Services and requested an investigation. A social worker named Helen Paramore, herself just 25, interviewed Beverly alone after her parents had left the hospital. Paramore later contended that she talked with Beverly alone because allowing the parents in the room “would not have been a good investigative move,” since they might pressure Beverly. After three and a half hours alone in a room with Paramore, Beverly emerged claiming she had been molested by her stepfather, _____.
Later that year, Beverly told a Bell County jury that her stepfather had raped her. But that wasn’t all. She said he had also taken a rag stuffed with glass and used it to wash her private parts in the bathtub. _____ Troupe was convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child and sentenced to 50 years in prison.