Child Abuse and Forensic Services, a Beaumont-based non-profit, has created the Ashlyn Tilea Treadway Educational Fund, in honor of a sexual abuse survivor who was killed in a car accident last August. Treadway was just 23.
We first wrote about the abuse Ashlyn, her younger sister Brea, and two other girls suffered at the hands of Treadway's uncle, Beaumont cardiologist Jeff Klem, in 2007. (Brea was a passenger in the car Ashlyn was driving when she lost control just a few miles from where she lived with her maternal grandparents. She was injured, but fortunately survived).
Klem was the pride and joy of Treadway's grandfather, Lonnie Charles "Buck" Treadway, Pentecostal pastor of New Life Tabernacle Church. After the girls accused Klem of molesting them, Buck Treadway sided with his son-in-law, calling Ashlyn and the others whores and liars, according to family and friends.
Klem pleaded guilty in Jefferson and Harris counties to injury to a child, which spared him from having to register as a sex offender. Prosecutors in both counties seemed to take a soft approach to their cases; maybe because Klem had the funds to hire Dick DeGuerin for his Jefferson County case. In Beaumont, Klem was allowed to serve his jail time on the weekends.
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What Ashlyn, her mother, and some of the other girls' family members told us for that story was how they felt re-victimized by the criminal justice system. These girls experienced abuse at the hands of their uncle, had the guts to step forward, then were ostracized by Buck Treadway and his wife, as well as many in their church. They were also ready to testify on the stand, but of course the cases never went that far.
Ashlyn and the other girls were failed by an incredible number of adults of high standing in their communities, yet they soldiered on. Ashlyn was working on her dental hygienist's degree at Lone Star Community College when her life was cut tragically short.
We're so glad to hear that CAFS, which conducts forensic medical examinations and other forensic evidence collection, has established a fund in Ashlyn's memory. It's a great way to honor someone who herself lived life in such an honorable way, unlike many of the so-called pillars of her community.
Ashlyn (and the others) never asked to be poster children for a cause, but we suspect she would be proud to have her name attached to a fund that could offer support to other victims of sexual abuse. Please take the time to visit CAFS's site and learn more about how you can support the organization and contribute to Ashlyn's namesake fund.