Associated Press/Amy Westfeldt

Nelden McMickle began molesting his daughter, Chrissy, when she was 5 years old, afterward, hewould give her ice cream and warn her not to tell anyone. He began sexually abusing his son,Michael, when he was 5 years old and beating him when he was 7. Eventually, Michael told a neighborand their father went to jail for more than eight years. According to the Associated Press, thisyear, the state moved Nelden McMickle to a psychiatric facility and said the children he abusedwould have to pay part of the $90,000 annual bill. Michael, now 21, was outraged. Why should Ihave to pay for him? he demanded. The answer lies in an obscure 1918 state law meant to makerelatives responsible for part of the cost of court ordered hospital commitments. This law does notmake exceptions for cases where children are victims of the relative's abuse. A separate law passedin 1993 resulted in the father being sent to the Ann Klein Forensic Center in Trenton after hefinished his prison term last year. The law allows the state to commit sex offenders it deems to bestill a threat to society after their prison terms are over. State officials have decided that ifthe siblings appeal the assessment, they will not be charged but the law's existence still requiresa letter to the family every year asking them to submit their tax returns to determine how muchthey might be liable for their father's care. Nelden McMickle pleaded guilty to aggravated sexualassault of both his children in 1992 and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

(Sparta, New Jersey)