Friday, September 17, 2021

September 17: Schoolgirl, Rape Victim, Dies After Abortion

SUMMARY: Phyllis Brown, a 16-year-old Riverside High schoolgirl, died at Grant Hospital in Chicago on September 17, 1937 after an abortion performed by Dr. C. Harold Edmunds (pictured, right).

On June 17, 1937, 16-year-old Riverside High schoolgirl Phyllis Brown was attacked and raped by an acquaintance near Villa Park in Chicago. 

She kept the assault a secret from her parents even after learning that the assault had resulted in a pregnancy. Instead, Phyllis confided in her friend, 17-year-old Lillian Pernicka. 

Lillian (pictured, left) told Phyllis that she herself had undergone an abortion on March 8 at the hands of Dr. Clarence Harold Edmunds in Oak Park. The girls went to Edmunds's office in Oak Park on September 1. There, Edmunds performed an abortion. 

When Phyllis took ill afterwards, her parents summoned Dr. S. A. Sugar. He examined her on September 13 and admitted her to Grant Hospital. He believed that she might be suffering from abortion complications so he notified the police.

On September 18, Edmunds, age 48, and his secretary, Marie Trampush, age 27, were arrested. Edwards was released on $25,000 bond and Trampush on $3,000.

Phyllis's father, Samuel, put all the blame on the boy who had raped his daughter. "You don't need police to run down the boy," he said at the inquest. "He murdered my daughter and wherever he is, I'll find him and take care of him in my own way."

Both Edmunds and Trampush (pictured, right) denied having any knowledge of an abortion performed on Phyllis.

Edwards was originally licensed in Saskatchewan, Canada, in 1913. He moved to North Dakota and practiced there before relocating first to Florida and then to Oak Park, where he set up practice in 1931.

The case had originally been struck off because there were legal issues with Phyllis's dying declaration. The charges were filed again and both Edmunds and Trampush were indicted. However, in January of 1938 the charges were dropped for reasons I've been unable to determine.


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