Genie is a name used for a feral child discovered by California authorities on November 4, 1970 in the Los Angeles suburb of Arcadia. Her real name remains classified.

Genie had spent her life locked in her bedroom. During the day she was tied to a pottychair, and most nights she was then bound in a sleepingbag and placed in an enclosed crib with a metal lid to keep her shut inside. Since her parents had beaten her if she made any noise, she could not talk. The only words she knew were "stopit" and "nomore". Her father had apparently decided that she was retarded and had kept her locked up and tied to her potty chair. In effect, she had spent all her life in solitary confinement. She spat, sniffed, and clawed constantly.

Her parents were charged with child abuse. Genie was taken to a Children's Hospital in Los Angeles. Genie's mother, weak and almost blind, claimed she was herself a victim of abuse from Genie's father. The father commited suicide shortly after Genie's discovery.

In spite of her condition, hospital staff hoped they could nurture her to normality. When interest in the case widened, Genie became an unofficial science program to find out if there was a critical age threshold for language acquisition. Within a few months she had advanced to one-word answers and had learned to dress herself. Her doctors predicted complete success. They even screened Francois Truffaut's movie The Wild Child for ideas. Psychologist James Kent became her surrogate parent.

One year later Genie developed a rash. Her teacher Jean Butler claimed it was German measles; and as a quarantine measure, she was moved to her home. Butler became Genie's new foster parent and kept her away from the other members of the Genie team. Genie began to hoard things in her room. When Butler applied to be Genie's official foster parent, she was rejected.

Genie returned to the Children's Hospital and was handed over to a new foster parent, therapist David Rigler. His wife Marilyn became Genie's new teacher; she stayed with the Rigler family for the next four years. During that period she began to learn some language, and the Riglers arranged for her to learn sign language. She also learned to smile. If she could not create a sentence, she would try to communicate by drawing a picture.

However, the National Institute of Mental Health, which had funded the project, grew concerned about the lack of scientific research data. In 1974 the Institute cut off funding. The following year the Riglers decided to discontinue their foster parenting. Genie had not yet learned full grammatical English.

In 1975 Genie was returned to custody of her mother, who had been acquitted of child abuse charges. After a few months the mother found that taking care of Genie was too difficult, and Genie was transferred to a succession of six foster homes. In some of those foster homes she was physically abused, and her development regressed badly.

The original research team heard nothing more about Genie until her mother sued them for excessive testing. The case was eventually settled.

Genie now lives in a sheltered accommodation in an undisclosed location in Southern California.