The attorney representing a Philadelphia woman who stripped naked along with her three children outside Upper Darby High School earlier this year said medication was to blame for the psychotic episode.
Sharmil McKee, the attorney for Sara Butler, 44, told Delaware County Judge Gregory Mallon on Tuesday that Butler was taking several contradictory medications for lupus that triggered the March 16 episode.
“What was driving Mrs. Butler that day was that she thought the world was coming to an end and wanted to have her children near her at that time,” McKee told Metro Wednesday.
Butler and her two adult daughters, Joanne, 23, and Bessie, 22, along with her 14-year-old son went to the school to remove one of Butler’s biological children from class, but were denied because she did not have legal custody of the child. They began singing religious songs and laid down outside the school, but were forced to leave by security.
They returned three more times and on the third time, the family stripped naked and ran around the lot for several minutes before police arrived and took them into custody. A student captured part on the incident on a cell phone camera and posted it on YouTube.
McKee, who has represented the family in other matters, said that Sara Butler had never had a psychotic episode prior to the incident or a criminal record, and has since stopped taking the medication.
“That’s why the incident was so surprising. Her family wasn’t prepared for it,” she said.
Because they did not realize what was happening, McKee said, the adult children did what their mother told them.
“They believed their mother and didn’t have any reason to doubt the authenticity of what mom was saying. That’s the way they were raised – to do what their mom said,” she noted. “Of course, looking back and with the knowledge that this was an episode, they have some information now about what the warning signs are so the incident doesn’t repeat itself.”
Butler pleaded guilty to indecent exposure, disorderly conduct, simple assault and corrupting the morals of a minor and was sentenced to one year probation, a $500 fine and was ordered to stay away from the school.
Joanne and Bessie Butler also pleaded guilty to indecent exposure and disorderly conduct and received probation.