Ashlyn Treadway, 23, who was scorned by her paternal grandfather, a Pentecostal pastor, and many in her Beaumont church after she accused her uncle of molesting her, was killed in a single-car accident in Liberty County Saturday night. Her younger sister, Brea, a passenger in the car, is recovering from a broken pelvis and arm.
Treadway appears to have lost control of the car about a quarter-mile from her maternal grandparents' Moss Hill home, where she and Brea lived. According to YourClevelandNews, Ashlyn died at the scene.
The sisters' ordeal was the subject of a 2007 feature story we did entitled "Sleepovers with Uncle Jeff" that detailed how they were molested by their uncle, Beaumont cardiologist Jeffrey Klem, and ostracized by their grandfather, Pastor Lonnie Charles "Buck" Treadway of New Life Tabernacle. According to friends and family, Buck Treadway called his granddaughters liars and whores after they spoke up about their abuse. (Ashlyn's younger stepsister was also allegedly abused, as was a friend of theirs.)
After summoning the guts to accuse a respected family member of abuse, Ashlyn, Brea and the two other victims then experienced the timidity of prosecutors in Jefferson and Harris counties who didn't believe the girls' testimonies were enough to take on Klem's defense attorneys, including Dick DeGuerin. Instead, prosecutors in both counties agreed to plea bargains that sent Klem to jail for six months (on weekends) and deferred adjudication, allowing him to escape the sex offender registry.
Ashlyn told the Houston Press that kid-glove treatment of wealthy defendants "is the reason why kids don't come out and say anything" about abuse.
Ashlyn saddled a lot of guilt after the abuse, blaming herself for what she believed was her failure to protect her sisters. For two years, Ashlyn took to cutting herself with a bobby pin or a nail.
She told the Press: "It's like it wasn't me. It wasn't me, it was all the anger held up in me, because I didn't say anything and I needed to...."
Ashlyn's friend Ashley Sylvester of Beaumont told us this morning that Ashlyn was working on a dental hygienist degree at Lone Star Community College. "She was so pumped. She was finally putting the pieces back together," Sylvester said. "It took her a while to do that. She didn't know how to handle it -- she went to a really dark place after all this...."
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Sylvester also told us, "She had been dealt a hard hand in life so many times, but there has never been a single time that I saw her angry or mean-spirited. She was the most kindhearted girl. I [can't] think of one bad thing she ever did to anyone."
Our thoughts are with the family, and we wish Brea a swift recovery.