For 100 days Peter N. Borsi wrote tormented letters to his estranged family from his room at a Salem, Va., mental hospital.
"I don't know how I can take much more of this," Borsi wrote from the hospital. "This torment and torture and punishment, every second, every hour."
Borsi 61, was committed to the hospital by a Loudoun County judge despite the testimony of two psychiatrists who had said ychiatrists who had said he may have had peoblems but was not commitable.
When Borsi was finally released from the hospital, he sued the judge who committed him and his two attroneys who represented him. As a result of the out-of-court settlement reached with the judge, the Virginia Attorney General's office has agreed to draft legislation for the next general assembly, to change the way people are involuntarily committed.
Under current Virginia law a judge must find that the person to be committed "presents an inminent danger to himself or others as a resulut of mental illness, or has seriously threatened or attempeed to take hsi own life just prior to the hearing or has otherwise been proven to be substantially unable to care for himself."
Under the terms of teh settlement, the state attorney general's office must prepare a bill for introduction into the next general assembly to make it mandatory that a physician "find probable cause to believe that the individual is mentally ill, presents an imminent danger to himself or others and requires involuntary hospitalization as a prerequisite to commitment.
Last week Judge Ailen declined to comment on his reasons for committing Borsi. Court records show that part of Borsi's dilemma stemmed from arital probles, disturbances with police, taunting by neighborhood juveniles, and just being a little different.
Borsi, who tinkers with old cars in front of his Sterling.Va. hoe, which is surrounded by antiques and other collectibles Borsi has found, has had his home pelted with eggs and his van scratched by juveniles, because re is "unusual," according to Carl P.Horton, Borsi's current attorney.
In one incident, Borsi followed one of the juveniles he thought had been harassing him, onto a public school bus, which is illegal.
On another cocasion Borsi was arrested for driving a car he had been tinkering with without having a valid driver's license. He was arrested after he had moved it down the street at the request of a police oifficer, court records show.
Following that incident, Judge Aiken ordered a competency examination for Borsi. The psychiatrist found Borsi to be intelligent, wane and competent.
A year later his wife, Grace Alice, filed to have Borsi committed. She had also filed for divorce.
Borsi was examined again by a psychiatrist May 20, 1975, who found that Borsi had problems, but "was not committable."
Judge Aiken ordered Borsi committed because he "presented an imminent danger to himself and others as a result of mental illness."
"That was a valid decision by the judge," said Mary Y.Spencer. Aiken's attorney. "It was the normal procedure. There was some ambiguity in the commitment statute."
Borsi's attorney Julia M.Taylor of Leesburg did not appeal Bursi's case because "I do not feel the decision of Judge Aiken was an unjust one," Taylor wrote to Borsi in the Salem hospital.
Subsequently, another sttorney, Donald E. Nelson, was appointed to take Borsi's case and did not seek to have him reexamined, Borsi said.
When Borsi was released he sued them both and last March won an undisclosed out-of-court settlement that one source said attorney Robert C.Coleburn who represented the lawyers. "According to the judges ... BOrsi posed an immediate threat to others."
Taylor did not appeal Borsi case because "she didn't think it would be sucessful. She told him about that. She advised him he'd be better off there," Coleburn said.
Bprsi was finally released Aug.29,1975 from the hospital after a hospital psychiatrist found Borsi was not committable.