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About Utah: No hiding brother’s quandary

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PROVO — Greg Hatch has a good brother, and that brother, whose name is Brad, is in a quandary.

He doesn't know how he can help Greg.

The problem is as simple as it is complicated. Greg, 36, is mentally ill. He demonstrates all the classic signs of schizophrenia. His illness is debilitating to the point that he doesn't hold a job, doesn't have a wife, doesn't have children and subsists only on a small disability check the government sends him each month.

In many families, such a problem is tucked away, right or wrong, in the back bedroom, or maybe, if there's ample wealth, in a private sanitarium somewhere. But Greg Hatch isn't the shy, retiring type who would stay in a back bedroom, and he sure isn't wealthy. He lives by himself in a shack of a house on Geneva Road in west Provo, where he survives on the food his sainted mother regularly brings him. He sleeps every night on the hard floor inside the house and every day, almost without fail, he spends sitting on the hard floor of the front porch, watching the world go by.

All this would work except for three problems: Greg likes to greet passers-by with a friendly wave of his middle finger; he likes to urinate in public; and on Sundays, he likes to walk down the block to attend LDS Church services.

By persisting with these three activities, Greg Hatch has managed to repeatedly get into trouble with society. That includes his current woes, involving charges that include one count of trespassing (going on church grounds after being asked to stay away), one count of lewd conduct (the urination), and five counts of disorderly conduct (mostly because of excessive use of his middle finger).

He's scheduled to go to court in Provo Tuesday to answer these charges. It isn't the first time. Greg has gone to court, and then to jail, many times before. He's also spent time at the state mental hospital and the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center.

The pattern is usually incarceration and brutal treatment in the county jail, followed by a hunger strike, followed by hospitalization and more brutal treatment, and, eventually, back out on the loose.

And there you have Brad Hatch's quandary.

It's almost more than Greg's big brother can bear to see that ugly cycle repeat itself again.

Brad Hatch, an amiable man who works for a computer company, drove me to Geneva Road in west Provo last Friday to meet his brother Greg.

As we drove into the driveway of the shabby shack, Greg greeted us from the porch — with two middle fingers and a smile.

I found Greg Hatch to be a pleasant man, strikingly handsome in a long-hair- and-beard kind of way and amiable as his brother. But not bendable. He talked at length about his right to greet people however he wishes (he sees his middle finger salute as a reminder to look to heaven), about his right to urinate openly (because he believes pure and clean people find no shame in that) and about how important it is to him to go to church and take the Sacrament on Sunday (regardless of how much he might frighten the Primary kids).

Greg Hatch — once a four-point student at Provo High — talks so lucidly that, if you're not careful, you can easily forget he's sitting on the bare boards of a shabby porch he will not move from the entire day.

It seems that's what society forgets when they try to apply the rules that apply to those who are mentally healthy to those who are mentally ill.

That's what I said to Brad Hatch as we drove away from Geneva Road.

That, and I am truly sorry for his quandary.

Please send e-mail to benson@desnews.com and faxes to 801-237-2527.