The Sarasota County School District will pay $200,000 each to the families of three students who died after being hypnotized by their high school principal.
George Kenney, principal of North Port High School, hypnotized up to 75 students, staff members, and others between 2006-2011. The three teenagers who died were Brittany Palumbo, 17, Wesley McKinley, 16, and Marcus Freeman, 16.
Freeman, the quarterback of the North Port High School football team, wanted to undergo hypnosis to help him focus on the field; Kenney taught him self-hypnosis. On March 15, 2011, Freeman was driving home from the dentist with and his girlfriend; he drove off the interstate highway, dying later from injuries he sustained, while his girlfriend survived. She said a sudden “strange look” had come over his face.
In April, 2011, Wesley McKinley hanged himself. His friend Thomas Lyle, said McKinley had been hypnotized at least three times to prepare him for his guitar audition for Juilliard. Lyle said, on the day McKinley hanged himself, he asked Lyle to punch him in the face.
Brittany Palumbo asked for hypnosis to improve her SAT scores. She killed herself in May, 2011.
One basketball player at the school said he underwent hypnosis between 30 and 40 times by Kenney in order to help him focus.
According to the Daily Mail, “One school official had even warned Kenney on three separate occasions that he was not to practice hypnosis on students without their parents’ written consent, but even that may have been illegal because he did not hold a license.”
Kenney was charged with two misdemeanor counts of practicing hypnosis without a license in 2012 and forced to relinquish his teaching license in 2013, with no eligibility for a renewal. He was sentenced to one year of probation.