Tuskegee Syphilis Study Descendents Group Seeks Remaining Settlement Money

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Any money remaining from a $9 million legal settlement over a U.S. government study that left hundreds of black men untreated for syphilis should be awarded to their descendents, a group says.

The money could be used for college scholarships and a memorial garden, said Lillie Tyson Head, the president of the Voices of our Fathers Legacy Foundation, an organization for descendents of men in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, the Associated Press reported.

A county-owned museum in Tuskegee has separately requested the funds, but the decision should be up to the descendants, Head said. Her group has asked a judge to withhold a decision on the money until the foundation can hire a lawyer and file documents in a class action lawsuit over the study.

Beginning in 1932, government medical workers in rural Alabama withheld treatment from unsuspecting black men who had syphilis so that doctors could follow progression of the disease and examine the men's bodies after they died. The study was halted after it was revealed by the AP in 1972.

All of the approximately 600 men in the study are now dead. More than 6,000 of their heirs received settlement payments through the decades, but an undisclosed amount remains in court-controlled accounts, according to court officials, who say they cannot find additional descendants, the AP reported.

Court documents say the remaining amount of money as "relatively small" interest earnings.

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