Mother of arrested petitioner claims he’s mentally ill

Barbara Harvey and Barbara Harvey

Following the arrest of petitioner Pavel Postelnyak for slapping theater major Peter Messick at American River College on March 4, Pavel’s mother, Larisa Postelnyak, is speaking out about what she claims is her son’s mental illness.

Larisa claims that following a physical altercation that resulted in Pavel being admitted to the emergency room with a head injury, she started to notice a change in his demeanor.

“We came to America when he was four years old … Everything was fine when we came to America. He was growing. We go together to the church–he was growing as normal as other boys,” Larisa said.

“It was OK, until one time, he was in [a] fight with the other boys,” Larisa said.

Larisa claims that Pavel, 16 years old at the time, was attempting to protect his cousin when five men, aged 19 to 20, attacked him with baseball bats.

“We (went) to the emergency (room), he was so swollen,” Larisa said. “After this, I saw the difference, [a] little bit. It no coming quick. I just saw sometimes he has stresses…it was a little bit paranoia.”

According to Larisa, Pavel has not been diagnosed, despite at one point being involuntarily admitted to a mental health facility.

“They not give me any results. I can’t take anything. I want some professional help, and I asked them. I explained (to) them, ‘I am mother, I have responsibility for my kid,’ and they say ‘it doesn’t matter, he is adult, he won’t sign [a release] for you,’ and that’s it. It’s just rules. They have rules, and I can’t go around these rules. I’m just crying and praying,” Larisa said.

Messick states that he did not recall any behavior that indicated that Pavel was mentally ill.

“He was determined. There was determination, but to me, there was no indication that he was mentally unstable, from what I saw of how he interacted … It’s still inexcusable. The action that he did is still inexcusable.”

Larisa wanted to apologize to Messick on behalf of her son.

“Firstly I would like to bring our apologies about my sоn Pavel to those he made the trouble,” Larisa said in an email to the Current.

“I accept that. I do. I accept that wholeheartedly. It’s unfortunate that there are people that endure trauma and don’t feel like there’s an outlet for them to turn to help. There are outlets there, there are hotlines, there are counseling offices to help,” said Messick.

The ARC health center, the services of which are only available to students, currently have no onsite resources for mental health. Health center employees refer students to area facilities capable of providing help.

If you or someone you know needs assistance regarding mental illness, contact Sacramento County Mental Health Treatment Services at (916)-875-1000.