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William Stanley Milligan (born February 14, 1955), known as Billy Milligan, is an American citizen who was the subject of a highly publicized court case in Ohio in the late 1970s. After having committed several felonies including armed robbery, he was arrested for three rapes on the Ohio State University campus. In the course of preparing his defense, psychologists diagnosed Milligan with multiple personality disorder. His lawyers pleaded insanity, claiming that two of his alternate personalities committed the crimes without Milligan's being aware of it. He was the first person diagnosed with multiple personality disorder to raise such a defense, and the first acquitted of a major crime by this reason, instead spending a decade in mental hospitals. Milligan's life story was popularized by Daniel Keyes's award-winning non-fiction novel The Minds of Billy Milligan (1981, available in fourteen languages).
Milligan's mother, Dorothy Milligan, grew up in Ohio farm country, and lived in Circleville, with her husband, Dick Jonas. They divorced, and Dorothy eventually moved to the Miami, Florida area, where she worked as a singer. There she began living with Johnny Morrison, a Jewish comedian who was still married.
Dorothy and Johnny had a son, Jim Milligan, in October 1953. In February 1955, in Miami Beach, they had a second son, William Stanley Milligan, later known as Billy Milligan. Dorothy and Johnny had a third child together, Kathy Jo Milligan, born in December 1956.
At this time, Johnny was 36 years old. According to biographer Daniel Keyes, "Meeting the medical expenses overwhelmed Johnny. He borrowed more, gambled more, drank more [...]. [He] was hospitalized for acute alcoholism and depression in [...] 1958 [...]." In what appeared to be an unsuccessful suicide attempt, according to Keyes, "[Dorothy] found him slumped over the table, half a bottle of Scotch and an empty bottle of sleeping pills on the floor." A few months after this attempt, on January 17, 1959, Johnny committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning.
Dorothy took her children and moved away from Miami, eventually returning to Circleville, Ohio, where she remarried her ex-husband Dick Jonas. This marriage lasted about a year. In 1962, she met Chalmer Milligan (1927–1988). Chalmer's first wife Bernice divorced him on "grounds of gross neglect". He had a daughter, Challa, the same age as Billy, and another daughter who was a nurse. Dorothy and Chalmer married in Circleville, Ohio on October 27, 1963.
At his later trial, Chalmer was blamed for abusing Billy. Keyes claimed that Billy had multiple personalities from a much earlier age, however; his first three (no-name boy, Christene, and Shawn) appearing by the time he was five years old.
In 1975, Milligan was imprisoned at Lebanon Correctional Institution in Ohio, for rape and armed robbery. He was released on parole in early 1977. He was also forced to register as a sex offender. In October 1977, Milligan was arrested for raping three women on the Ohio State University campus. He was identified by one of his victims, from existing police mug shots of sex offenders, and from fingerprints lifted from another victim's car. One of the victims said that he was quite nice and that he acted like a 3 year old girl.
Since he had used a gun and guns were found in a search of his residence, he had violated his parole as well. He was indicted on "[...] three counts of kidnapping, three counts of aggravated robbery and four counts of rape". He then stayed in the Ohio State Penitentiary.
In the course of preparing his defense, he underwent a psychological examination by Dr. Willis C. Driscoll, who diagnosed Milligan with acute schizophrenia. He was then examined by psychologist Dorothy Turner of Southwest Community Mental Health Center in Columbus, Ohio. During this examination, Turner concluded that Milligan suffered from multiple personality disorder. Milligan's public defenders, Gary Schweickart and Judy Stevenson, pleaded an insanity defense, and he was committed "[...] until such time as he regains sanity".
Milligan was sent to a series of state-run mental hospitals, such as the Athens State Hospital, where, by his report, he received very little help. While he was in these hospitals, Milligan reported having ten different personalities. These ten were the only ones known to psychologists. Later on an additional 14 personalities, labeled "The Undesirables", were discovered. Among the first ten were: Arthur, a prim and proper Englishman; Allen, a manipulator; Tommy, a con artist; Ragen Vadascovinich, a Yugoslavian communist who Milligan claimed had committed the robberies in a kind of Robin Hood spirit; and Adalana, a 19-year-old lesbian who craved affection and who had allegedly committed the rapes.
Milligan received treatment from psychiatrist David Caul, who diagnosed the additional fourteen personalities.
Milligan was released in 1988 after a decade in mental hospitals, and discharged from the Ohio mental health system and the Ohio courts on August 1, 1991. In 1996 he lived in California where he owned Stormy Life Productions and was going to make a short film (which apparently has never been made). His current location is unknown, his former acquaintances have lost contacts with him.
Daniel Keyes authored a biographical non-fiction novel called The Minds of Billy Milligan (1981, available in fourteen languages). His follow-up book, The Milligan Wars, was published in Japan in 1994, in Taiwan in 2000, in France in 2009, but not yet in the United States, first owing to Milligan's ongoing lawsuit against the State of Ohio for the allegedly inadequate treatment he received in Ohio facilities, then to the desire to tie its release to an in-development film.
Several attempts had been made by Hollywood to adapt Keyes' book. In the early 1990s, James Cameron co-wrote a screenplay with Todd Graff for a film version he was to direct then-titled A Crowded Room (with 'A'). This adaptation never came into fruition because Cameron was sued by adaptation rightsholder Sandy Arcara, demanding "her salary should be raised from $250,000 to $1.5 million"; seeing the project stalled, Milligan also sued Cameron in 1993. After Cameron left the project, Warner Bros. continued to develop it now slightly retitled The Crowded Room (with 'The'), with directors Joel Schumacher and David Fincher attached at various points. Actors courted for the role of Milligan included Matthew McConaughey, Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and John Cusack. As of August 2014[update], the film remains in limbo and its IMDb entry has been deleted.
Billy Miligan had a number of personalities.
These ten are the alters whom personalities "Ragen" and "Arthur" decided were not "undesirable." They freely shared consciousness, and doctors quickly learned of their existences.
These people were labeled "undesirable" after breaking the rules laid down by Ragen and Arthur. These alters were no longer allowed "on the spot" (that is, to hold consciousness) and only revealed themselves after Milligan was sent to the hospital.
(Not an Undesirable)