Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Student lawsuit alleges teacher victimization

Frankston, Victoria, Australia (June 29, 2008) - Courtney Davis, a 13-year-old student at Karingal Primary School, is suing the Victorian State Government, claiming she was discriminated against by two teachers at the school between March 2006 and July 2007. As reported by The Age, Ms Davis, who has severe epilepsy and suffers from seizures during the day that affect her short-term memory, alleges that amongst other things, one of the teacher's deliberately kicked balls at her and told her she was using her disability "as a crutch," that she was sent to reception at the school when she was ill and told to lie on the floor with a pillow rather than being placed in the sick bay, and that a sport's teacher told her she was "nothing but a slacker." From the article:

Courtney was allegedly victimised by two teachers — one who told her mother the girl was "using her disability as a crutch" and she "didn't have time for that rubbish".

This teacher also kicked a ball at Courtney's head three times in the presence of other students, it is claimed.

Her lawyers say that when Courtney did not come to school because of increased seizures, a sports teacher told her physical education class: "She never does sport. She is nothing but a slacker."
The full story is here.
Scam charges

From WCPO in Union Township, Cincinatti (June 29,2009) -
Two women are facing charges for allegedly using disabled children to defraud Union Township residents out of money earlier this month.

On Monday, Union Township police filed misdemeanor theft charges on Amie McRoberts, 37, and Catherine Nickell, 41.

Investigators say the women sent the girls door-to-door requesting donations so the children could attend a special needs camp. Police say both girls suffer from learning disabilities and the money was never going to a special needs organization, it was going to pay their parents' bills.
Amandaw is guest blogging at Feministe

Here is a link to her first post. And this is a link to her personal blog, Three River's Fog. An excerpt from her first post:

I’ve been around the blogosphere for several years now, commenting under this name (case varied). I started my blog… to have a space to externalize and process my own thoughts on any number of issues, including my experience as a low-class kid being raised by a mentally ill single mother, in an agricultural area in central California where Latin@s actually outnumber whites, and struggling to come to terms with my increasingly-unavoidable disability as I grew older. Issues covered include feminism, disability, health care, class and race, and conventional white-male-higher-class “politics”…

Monday, June 29, 2009

Inmate lawsuit claims sexual assault and coverup

Tulsa, Oklahoma (June 26, 2009) - Four female former inmates of Delaware County jail have filed a lawsuit claiming they were sexually assaulted by jailers and a reserve jail officer. In this report by the Oklahoman, one of the four women is described as “mentally disabled.” The inmates’ allegations include rape, sexual molestation and other forms of sexual assault, death threats, and claims that initial complaints were covered up by Delaware County Sheriff Jay Blackfox rather than properly investigated. According to The Oklahoman:
The lawsuit states Blackfox rehired [jailor] Sanders despite prior sexual misconduct with female inmates and that the sheriff ignored complaints by female inmates. Blackfox denied the allegations.

The story in full is here.

Assault and attempted robbery charges

Bridgeport, Connecticut (June 27, 2009) - Acccording to the Connecticut Post, 19-year-old Roosevelt Webster was arrested and charged on Friday with beating and trying to rob a 24-year-old developmentally disabled man. His charges include attempted first-degree robbery, assault on a "mentally retarded person" and reckless endangerment. From the article:
The 24-year-old victim was walking along Iranistan Avenue on Friday morning, police said, when he was confronted by four men wearing hooded sweat shirts. One of the men, identified as Webster, fired a gunshot in the direction of thevictim and the four men began beating the victim until officers arrived.

Police said the assailants scattered on arrival of officers and Webster was arrested after a short foot chase. Officers found several cartridges in his pocket and a handgun was found stuck in a fence along the path where he was running, police said.
Roosevelt Webster is being held on $40,000 bond. The man he assaulted and attempted to rob was taken to Bridgeport Hospital, where he was treated for head and face lacerations.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday round-up

From the AAP, Australia (July 25, 2009) - The mother of a 7-year-old autistic girl who died of starvation on November 3, 2007, has been found guilty of her murder by a NSW Supreme Court jury. The same jury found the child's father guilty of manslaughter after a week of deliberations. The girl weighed just 9kg at the time of her death and had the bone development of a five-year-old.

From the Journal News, White Plains, New York (June 24, 2009) - In an opinion-editorial, Esther Gueft says people with disabilities constitute one of the nation’s largest minority groups, yet their needs are consistently overlooked.

From The Independent in the United Kingdom (June 23, 2009) - Cari Loder, a multiple scleroris sufferer who pioneered a treatment for the disease, has committed suicide in her home near Godalming, Surrey, using a "helium based suicide kit." In the days before her death, Ms Loder, aged 48, researched ways to kill herself as her health rapidly deteriorated, leaving her permanently housebound and unable to travel to a euthanasia clinic abroad.

From the Associated Press and the News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina (June 23, 2009) - North Carolina unveiled a roadside marker yesterday representing the state’s decades-long eugenics program, which was intended to keep thousands of people considered mentally disabled or otherwise genetically inferior from having children.

From the Contra Costa Times in Contra Costa, California (June 23, 2009) - Columnist Kate Scannell says Governor Schwarzenegger’s plan to cut services to people with disabilities will only create bigger and more costly problems.

From the Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press (June 22, 2009) - In a 6-3 ruling decision, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a family who argued that their child’s special education costs should be paid by their local school district even though he had not first received special education services in public school.

From ProPublica/St. Louis Post-Dispatch (June 22, 2009) - Ten years after the Supreme Court handed down a landmark ruling intended to help people with disabilities move out of institutions, hundreds of thousands of people who want to leave institutions to live on their own are still waiting to be released from nursing homes, rehab centers and state hospitals.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Discrimination lawsuit claims KMART fired a greeter because he used a cane

From an EEOC press release (June 24, 2009) (h/t Wheelie Catholic)


Retail Giant Punished Worker for Back Impairment, EEOC Charges

NORFOLK, Va. – National retail giant Kmart Corporation violated federal law by firing an employee because of his disability, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed yesterday under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) on behalf of a former worker who uses an assistive walking device.

The EEOC’s suit, filed in he U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Kmart Corporation, Civil Action No. 2:09CV291), asserted that around September 2004 Alonzo McGlone was hired as a greeter at a Kmart Super Center in Norfolk, Va. McGlone, who has a debilitating back impairment, uses a cane to assist him in walking and standing. The EEOC’s suit charged that McGlone was successfully performing his duties as a greeter when he was observed using his cane. According to the EEOC, McGlone was fired because of the use of his cane.

The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement out of court. The EEOC's lawsuit seeks reinstatement of McGlone into his former position or an equivalent one, as well as back pay, compensatory damages, and punitive damages. The EEOC also seeks an injunction ordering Kmart to institute and carry out policies, practices, and training programs which provide equal employment opportunities for persons with disabilities, and a work environment free from disability discrimination.

“Mr. McGlone lost his job because he needed to use an assistive device to walk,” said Herbert Brown, director of the EEOC’s Norfolk Local Office. “It is unfortunate that many employers still deny people who are ready and able the opportunity to work simply because of a disability. The EEOC will continue to fight for the rights of people victimized by such prejudices.”

During Fiscal Year 2008, disability discrimination charge filings with the EEOC nationwide rose to 19,453 -- an increase of 10 percent from the prior fiscal year and the highest level in 14 years.

Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office, which includes the Norfolk Local Office, added, “This lawsuit is a reminder that, although we have made great strides in educating employers and the public about disability
discrimination, some employers still judge applicants and employees based on a disability rather than on their proven ability to do a job.”

According to its web site, www.kmart.com, Kmart is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sears Holdings Corporation. As of January 31, 2009, Holdings operated a total of 1,368 Kmart stores across 49 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.

Recent sex crime reports

Muskegon, Michegan (June 23, 2009) - The Muskegon Chronicle reports that 54 year-old Willie James Ferguson has been charged with sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl with developmental disabilities. According to the article, Ferguson, who was an acquaintance of the family, was charged as "a fourth-time habitual offender." A preliminary examination is set for July 2 and bond was set at $500,000 cash or surety.

Gatesville, Texas (June 22, 2009) - KXXV News reports that 22 year-old Christopher Lace Mobley was arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting a developmentally disabled man. He is charged with four counts of aggravated sexual assault and is being held on $300,000 bond.

Appleton, Wisconsin (June 20, 2009) - The Post Crescent reports that 51 year-old Eliseo Corona Vargas was found guilty of multiple charges arising from the rape on June 7, 2008, of a disabled woman who called police with her medical alert necklace. Vargas was found guilty of second-degree sexual assault, burglary and bail jumping and is scheduled for sentencing on August 6. According to the report, broke into the woman's New London apartment early in the morning while she was sleeping and assaulted her. The two were not acquainted.

Lombard, Illinois (June 19, 2009) - The Daily Herald reports that Shreya Lal, 20, has been arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting on June 15 a 20 year-old girl with developmental disabilities. According to the report, the assault occurred in the home of Lombard's parents after he convinced the girl to meet him there. Lal, it is reported, took the girl's cellular phone and threatened to hurt her if she went to plice. Lal is charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual assault, intimidation, unlawful interference with the reporting of domestic violence. He was also charged with unlawful violation of an order of protection barring him from having contact with her.

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (June 17, 2009) - The Ottawa Citizen reports that two male social workers have been charged with "verbally, mentally and physically" assaulting three developmentally disabled adults at a Rockland home run by Prescott-Russell Services to Children and Adults. According to Ontario Provincial Police, the alleged assault of three adult residents of the home were reported to the OPP by the director of services of PRSCA on May 7.
Patrick Labreche, 24, was charged with three counts of assault, mischief under $5,000 and sexual exploitation, and Dominic Laviolette, 35, was charged with four counts of assault and sexual exploitation. They are expected to appear in court on June 24.

Bainbridge, Washington (June 15, 2009) - According to the Seattle Times, a 62-year-old Bainbridge High School teacher's aide is being held in jail on $500,000 bail, accused of sexually touching a developmentally disabled 17-year-old girl at a community pool. According to a schoold district spokeswoman, the man has been a para-educator, or teacher's aide, in special education classes at the high school for approximately six years.

West Jordan, Utah (June 11, 2009) - According to the Salt Lake Tribune, 56 year-old Scott Olsen has been ordered to stand trial for allegedly tying a developmentally disabled 14-year-old girl to a bed and sexually assaulting her. Olsen, who lived in the same apartment building as the girl, is charged with first-degree felony aggravated kidnapping, four counts of second-degree felony forcible sexual abuse and lewdness, a class B misdemeanor. According to the article, prosecutors said the crimes all occurred on one day during the last school year, when the girl was in ninth grade. Olsen is being held in jail in lieu of $200,000 and is scheduled to appear in court on June 25.

Sand Lake, New York (June 10, 2009) - According to the Troy Record, 57 year-old Hendrick Werkman, a former employee at the Center for Disability Services, has been charged with performing a criminal sexual act upon a developmentally disabled adult female. According to the report, the alleged incident took place on June 6, 2009. Werkman has been fired from his center job in light of the criminal charges.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ontario man dies after being shot by police

Elmvale, Ontario, Canada (June 23, 2009) - According to numerous news reports, Doug Minty, an Ontario man who is described as being in his 50s and developmentally disabled, died shortly after being shot outside his home by an Ontario Provincial Police officer on Monday night. According to the Barrie Examiner, Mr Minty was shot during an "altercation" with a police officer who had been called to his home in response to a report about an argument between a door-to-door salesman and Mr Minty. From the article:

Police were called to 21 Lawson Ave. shortly after 8 p. m. in response to an altercation between a door-to-door salesman and a resident of the home.

Upon arrival at the scene, OPP say one of the men became involved in a direct altercation with police. As a result, an officer discharged his service pistol.

The man was taken to Royal Victoria Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The officer involved was not injured.

Neighbours say the resident shot was Doug Minty, a "very nice, well-liked" man who lived alone with his mother, Evelyn Minty, in the single storey house.
According to the report, Mr Minty's death is being investigated by The Special Investigations Unit. A post-mortem examination is planned for today (Wednesday).

The story in full is here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Police officer indicted in death of Otto Zehm

Spokane, Washington, June 22, 2009 - According to the Associated Press, a federal grand jury has indicted Officer Karl Thompson for striking and tasering 36-year-old Otto Zehm during a confrontation with police in a convenience store on March 18, 2006. Mr Zehm, who was developmentally disabled, never regained consciousness, and died two days after the incident. His death was ruled a homicide. From the article:

The indictment contends Officer Karl Thompson deprived Otto Zehm of his civil rights and made a false statement to investigators. He was accused of repeatedly striking Zehm with a baton and Tasering him in a convenience store.

City officials have said Zehm refused police orders to drop a two-liter bottle of soda he was holding, and fought with officers.

U.S. Attorney James McDevitt said Thompson will likely be the only officer indicted.
To read a Wikipedia article about the incident and the subsequent death of Otto Zehm, see here.

For more detailed coverage of the indictment of Karl Thompson, see this article by KXLY.
Two cases of caregiver abuse and one of theft in Baltimore, MD

From AP/WBOC News:

BALTIMORE (AP) - Two former caregivers at group homes for developmentally disabled adults have been charged with abuse. Thirty-nine-year-old Mary Arung of Laurel, who worked at a home in Washington, is accused of assaulting a disabled woman in November as she was being taken to a doctor's appointment in Lanham.

In a separate case, 55-year-old Aboyomi Ogundeyi was charged with assaulting a disabled man at a group home in Baltimore County.

The cases were investigated by the Maryland attorney general's Medicaid Fraud unit, which announced the charges Friday. In a third case, another former caregiver, 26-year-old Kera Pamela Heath of Baltimore, was charged with theft and forgery.

She is accused of stealing a check made out to an assisted living resident in her care.

Sexual assault lawsuit alleges inadequate supervision of residents

Austin, Texas - An Austin woman who alleges her 42-year-old daughter was sexually assaulted last year by a resident at the Willow River Farms home for adults with intellectual disabilities has sued the facility and its director for failing to properly supervise residents. According to the Statesman (June 19, 2009):

A lawsuit filed in district court in Harris County accuses Willow River Farms and its director of failing to properly supervise residents and seeks unspecified damages. Gloria Culpepper, whose 42-year-old daughter no longer lives at the facility, says her daughter was assaulted by a fellow resident.

According to the report, The Center Serving Persons with Mental Retardation, a Houston nonprofit that runs Willow River Farms, is also a defendant in the suit.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Caregiver carelessness

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada - Two employees of the St. Amant community home for people with developmental disabilities have been fired for leaving two female residents inside a van while they went to watch a movie. As reported by the Winnipeg Sun (June 19, 2009):

The incident occurred May 18 at the Cinema City theatres on McGillivray Boulevard, where the two women -- both young adult residents of a St. Amant community residence on Edelweiss Crescent -- were left sitting in a van in the parking lot as the employees charged with their care went to check out a flick.

"It violates every conceivable policy, common sense, and we believe, the law. We're taking this very, very seriously," said Carl Stephens, president and CEO of St. Amant.

"There was fortunately no harm to the young women but there was certainly potential for harm. Both have very significant intellectual disabilities."

The incident was discovered when police officers patrolling the area noticed the women sitting in the van and waited with them until the staff members exited the theatre.

According to the the article, the the Winnipeg police vulnerable persons unit is investigating the case to see whether the employees' actions were against the law, although a police spokesman could not confirm that late yesterday.

St. Amant has more than 500 employees in its community residential program, and about 1,400 overall.

The full article is here.
Prison sentence for neglect death

The Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester, New York, reports the sentencing of Amber Zuke to 2 1/3 years in prison after being found guilty last month of causing the death of her 6-year-old son Jacob by neglecting his nutritional and medical needs. Her husband, Timothy Zuke, whom the judge felt was less responsible for Jacob's death than Ms Zuke, took a plea deal and will serve one to three years in prsion. Jacob, who had cerebral palsy, weighed only 25 pounds when police found him dead in the family apartment on January 1, 2008.

The full story is here.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday round-up

From the Peoria Journal-Star in Peoria, Illinois (June 18, 2009) - The father of a severely autistic man has sued the city and three police officers for tasing his son 12 times when they arrested him last December after a disturbance at a Parc group home.

From the Associated Press (June 17, 2009) - The American Medical Association has taken action to support a doctor's ability to discuss obesity with an overweight patient. Under a new policy adopted Tuesday, the AMA formally opposes efforts by advocacy groups to define obesity as a disability. Doctors fear using that definition makes them vulnerable under disability laws to lawsuits from obese patients who don't want their doctors to discuss their weight.

From the Daily News in Queens, New York (June 17, 20090 - The mishandling of greencard applications for the family of a teen girl with disabilities may cause the family to separate. Following a paperwork snafu, 15-year-old Hayoung Lee, her mother and her sister face deportation to South Korea, leaving her father and 5-year-old brother alone in the US. The family faced its first hearing Monday in immigration court. The next step is a legal conference at the end of next month.

From KABC-TV in Los Angeles, California (June 16, 2009) - An investigation by ABC7 News of the LA County Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and its treatment of bus passengers with disabilities has uncovered has widespread disregard for disabled riders. "Undercover video showed broken equipment and drivers who say they're untrained - or too busy - to help wheelchair riders get secured on the bus as required by federal law."

From AP/KPAX in Helena, Montana (June 16, 2009) - A Missoula woman, who was unable to find a physician willing to prescribe drugs that would hasten her death, has died of ovarian cancer. Janet Murdock died Sunday at age 67. Her death was announced Tuesday by the Denver-based patients' rights group Compassion & Choices. The group was a plaintiff in a lawsuit that led to a judge's ruling that physician-assisted suicide is a right protected under the Montana Constitution.

From Chicago Town Daily News, Chicago, Illinois (June 16, 2009) - A Chicago Public Schools principal yesterday accused district officials of routinely denying disabled students access to specialized help, and at times, of barring them from evaluation for learning disabilities. Mary Ann Pollett, principal of Moses Montefiore Special Elementary School, testified before the City Council's Committee on Education and Child Development that officials have discouraged teachers at her school from reporting students' disabilities because it is too expensive to deal with them.

From the Los Angeles Times (June 16, 2009) - Marcella M. Meyer, a prominent deaf advocate who helped found the Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness and ran it for almost three decades, has died. She was 84. Ms Meyer, who was deaf since contracting scarlet fever at the age of 6, fought to expand civil rights and establish social services for people with impaired hearing. She pushed for TV closed-captioning in the 1970s, and was instrumental in opening up jury service in Los Angeles County to the deaf and hard of hearing in 1981. (h/t Patricia E Bauer)

From the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune in Minneapolis, Minnesota (June 15, 2009) -
Ariel Wade, who uses an electric mobility scooter to get around, is charging a White Castle restaurant with discrimination after she was turned away when she attempted to use the drive-through window. The Minnesota Disability Law Center is weighing whether to take her case. The restaurant chain says it limits the drive-in window to licensed motor vehicles in the interest of customer safety.

From the News Tribune, Benton County, Washington (June 14, 2009) - A deaf man who was jailed in Benton County in late 2005 and early 2006 is suing the county for allegedly failing to accommodate his needs under provisions of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. William 30-year-old Michael Kral says the county did not provide an interpreter during several court hearings, and that corrections officers refused to allow him to use a phone designed for deaf people and cut his calls short when he did use the teletypewriter, or TTY phone. The lawsuit also alleges that jail personnel wouldn't turn on the jail television's caption for the man.
Teen beaten by two men in Seattle

Seattle, Washington (June 17, 2009) - Police are investigating the assault by two white men on June 1 of 19-year-old Hannah Geiger. Hannah Geiger, who has a seizure disorder and is a silver medallist in the Special Olympics, was viciously beaten and knocked unconscious by two men in their 20s near the Magnolia Community Center around 3:30 p.m. on June 1. According to KATU.com, the men were muttering "racial slurs"during the attack, which police are calling a hate crime. As reported in the Seattle Times:

On June 1, the Haitian-born 19-year-old started out on her three-block walk from her home to one of her favorite palaces, Magnolia Community Center, when she was stopped by two white men who accosted her because of her race and disability before beating her unconscious. No arrests have been made.

"After we got back home, she told me what happened and her face was pretty red. She showed me her bruises and told the story," said her mother, Ruthann Geiger.

On Wednesday evening, a crowd of about 300 supporters and friends gathered at a community barbecue thrown in Hannah's honor in Magnolia.

For the first time since she was thrust into the local spotlight after surviving what police say was a violent hate crime, Geiger's game face cracked into an embarrassed, but resolute, smile.
Hannah, who has won 16 medals at the Special Olympics, is described by those who know her as a "leader and a natural born helper." In the words of Wayne Grytting, Hannah's teacher for four years at West Seattle High School, "She has been a teacher to all of us about how to care for each other."

The story in full is here and here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Netherlands special needs swimming teacher arrested on suspicion of large scale sexual abuse

Amsterdam, The Netherlands (June 17, 2009) - According to Earth Times, 59-year-old Benno Larue, a Dutch special-needs swimming teacher, has been arrested on suspicion of sexually abusing at least 98 girls with intellectual disabilities and other special needs. He was arrested on June 8 after police confiscated tens of thousands of pornographic photographs and video footage of "hundreds of girls" aged 6 to 16. From the article:

"We have confiscated tens of thousands of pornographic pictures and video footage of hundreds of girls," a spokesman of the police in Den Bosch in the southern Netherlands told the German Press Agency dpa.

"The pictures show the swimming teacher performing sexual acts on at least 98 girls, aged 6 to 16," he added.

Given the obvious difficulties in interviewing the special-needs children, due to their disabilities, estimates of the number of potential victims have ranged to possibly over 1,000.

Two girls have so far been identified. Police said that so far it appears all girls had been the victims of assault, not rape.

Larue taught in several swimming pools in Den Bosch and three nearby towns and villages.

According to the report, Larue had been under police investigation five years ago on suspicion of sexual abuse but a police investigation did not lead anywhere. More than 100 police detectives are now working on what "appears to be the largest sexual abuse case in the Netherlands in decades." Larue remains in police custody pending the investigation.

The full article is here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Justin Hamilton torture case: an update

Minneapolis-St Paul, Minnesota (June 15, 2009) - Further to my post on April 16, the Star Tribune reports that John Maniglia, 21, was sentenced to eight years in prison on Monday for his role in the kidnapping, assault and torture of Justin Hamilton (pictured) in October last year. From the article:
John Maniglia, 21, had pleaded guilty in April to one county each of kidnapping, third-degree assault and theft as his trial was about to begin. Seven other charges against him were dropped. The eight-year prison term, handed down by Judge Tim Wermager, is twice the recommended sentence.

"We are pleased that this defendant has been held responsible for his actions in this violent kidnapping and assault," County Attorney Jim Backstrom said in a press release issued today.

Backstrom has said the longer sentence was necessary because of the cruelty of Maniglia's crimes.
As reported earlier by FRIDA, Mr Hamilton was kidnapped on two successive days and kicked and beaten more than 100 times, tied to a tree and burned repeatedly with a lighter. In November, 2008, Maniglia's 16-year-old girlfriend, Natasha Dahn, who provoked the beating by lying to Maniglia and others, claiming that Hamilton had hit her, pleaded guilty to four felonies in exchange for extended juvenile jurisdiction. Another man, Johnathon Diepold, age 22, is scheduled for jury trial on July 27 for various charges in connection with the attack, including kidnapping, theft, third degree assault and false imprisonment. Two other men, Glen Ries, 34, and Timothy Ketterling, 22, have pretrial conferences scheduled for June 22.

For earlier reports, see here and here, and also here, here and here.
Settlement agreement in case involving treatment of disabled man in prison

Port Orchard, Washington (June 15, 2009) - According to the Seattle Times, Kitscap County has agreed to pay $4.7 million dollars to a man with developmental disabilities for his treatment during his stay in the Kitsap County Jail. According to the article, before he entered jail, William Trask was healthy and led an active life. But when he left prison he was severely dehydrated with gangrene and failing organs. From the article:

William Trask's relatives say he suffered brain damage after refusing to eat or drink in the jail. His lawyer Tim Rolland Tesh of Seattle says Trask became disoriented in jail and was not taken to Harrison Medical Center for 21 days.

Trask's family told KING5-TV that the man suffered from a developmental disability before he entered the jail, but was healthy and active. Relatives say he left jail with dehydration and organ failure.
In a statement released to the press, Sheriff Steve Boyer said that "Mr Trask's situation is very serious, however it is an aberration."

"The Kitsap County Jail is an excellent facility with professional staff. The experts cannot specifically identify the cause of his physical deterioration. However we are pleased that, through this settlement, Mr. Trask's present and future care and health needs will be met."
To read the story in full, see here and here.
Wednesday blog-about

Recommended reading:

Cara (Feministe, The Curvature) - U.S Polling Locations Remain Inaccessible

William Peace (Bad Cripple) - White Castle Miss the Point

Renee (Womanist Musings) - Using Lame As A Descriptor Is Always Ableist

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Rise in crimes against Tennesseans with disabilities

From the Public News Service in Nashville Tennessee, June 15, 2009

Tennesseans with disabilities are being victimized by criminals looking for easy targets. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) reports that crimes against people with disabilities in Tennessee, primarily thefts, assaults and burglaries, were up 88 percent so far in 2009.

Carol Westlake, executive director of the Tennessee Disability Coalition, says the rise in crimes against Tennesseans with disabilities could be tied to the current recession.

"It may have to do with the economy and money being tight in general. You know, if I'm going to commit a crime, people with disabilities are easier prey."

As the state legislature finalizes a budget this week, Westlake is concerned about Governor Phil Bredesen's proposed cuts, including the elimination of 718 state employees' jobs.

"That's three-quarters of those in the departments that serve people with mental retardation and mental illness."

Westlake says that adding to the problem is the attitude of some people that Tennesseans with disabilities are a burden during hard times, because there is a perception that they're not contributing to society and the economy of the state.

UK unlawful discrimination lawsuit claims Abercrombie & Fitch made employee work in stockroom because she didn't fit its "look policy"

From the Daily Mail in London, the United Kingdom, June 14, 2009

A disabled law student is suing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch for discrimination, claiming it made her work in a stockroom because her prosthetic arm didn't fit its public image.

Riam Dean, 22, was just days into a part-time job at the U.S. firm's flagship London store when she says she was asked to leave the shop floor.

She claims she was told she broke the company's 'Look Policy', which dictates how members of staff are meant to present themselves.

The company has been criticised for recruiting only young and beautiful assistants and was recently forced to settle a £25million law suit over the issue in the U.S.

Shoppers entering its new Savile Row shop are greeted by two bare-chested young men, clad in low-slung jeans and flip flops.

Miss Dean applied for a job with the company last May to fund the final months of her law degree at London's Queen Mary University.

She was born with her left forearm missing and has worn a prosthetic limb since she was three months old but insists she has never allowed her disability to get in her way.

She said: 'I was never asked whether I had a disability at my interview and, to be honest, it never occurred to me to mention it.

'It wouldn't stop me doing my job and I certainly didn't want or expect any special treatment.

'All they seemed interested in was taking my photograph to make sure I had the right image.'

After being told she had got the job she went along to an induction day where she was issued a 45-page handbook listing in minute detail the company's strict Look Policy.

It stipulates that staff must represent a 'natural, classic American style' and instructs them on everything from how to wear their hair (clean and natural) to how long they should wear their nails (a quarter of an inch past the end of the finger).

She was also given a uniform of jeans and a polo shirt, although the company handbook does state that sales associates can wear their own clothing as long as it is in 'Abercrombie style'.

Miss Dean, who normally wears long-sleeved tops to disguise the join between her upper arm and artificial limb, says she was told to buy a plain white cardigan to wear over her uniform.

But matters came to a head a few days later.

'A worker from what they call the "visual team", people who are employed to go round making sure the shop and its staff look up to scratch, came up to me and demanded I take the cardigan off.

'I told her, yet again, that I had been given special permission to wear it,' she recalled.
'A few minutes later my manager came over to me and said: "I can't have you on the shop floor as you are breaking the Look Policy. Go to the stockroom immediately and I'll get someone to replace you."

'I pride myself on being quite a confident girl but I had never experienced prejudice like that before and it made me feel utterly worthless.

'Afterwards I telephoned the company's head office where a member of staff asked whether I was willing to work in the stockroom until the winter uniform arrived.

'That was the final straw. I just couldn't go back.'

Miss Dean, who has just sat her final law exams, is due to take her case to the Central London Employment Tribunal later this month and is seeking damages of £25,000.

Four years ago, Abercrombie settled the £25million lawsuit, in which nine former employees accused the firm of discrimination.

The litigants, all from ethnic minority groups, said they were forced to work in stockrooms or take night shifts because they did not fit the 'Abercrombie look'.

A spokesman for Abercrombie & Fitch said: 'A&F has a strong anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy and is committed to providing a supportive and dignified environment for all of its employees.'

"Wrongful birth" lawsuit

Portland, Oregon, June 13, 2009 - A South Portland couple, whose two-year-old daughter was born with Down syndrome, are suing their doctor for more than 14 million dollars to cover the costs of raising her and providing her education, medical care and speech and physical therapy. Deborah and Ariel Levey, whom were reportedly given the wrong information after a prenatal test for Down syndrome, say they would have terminated the pregnancy if they had know their daughter had the condition. As reported by the Oregonian:

The Levys declined to be interviewed. Their attorney, David K. Miller, said the toddler is as dear to them as their two older children but they fear being perceived as "heartless."

"They feel very strongly that what happened to them was wrong," Miller said. "They were given incorrect information, and their lives have changed because of it."
Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, said fewer than 10 such suits are filed in the U.S. each year. And in order for the suits to succeed, courts must be willing to rule that "it's better not to exist and give damages for having to exist," Caplan said.

The 1973 decision Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court opened the door for such suits because parents generally must claim that they would have aborted the

The "wrongful birth" and "wrongful life" lawsuits are controversial. High courts in roughly two-thirds of states have allowed the suits. Some states -- including Michigan, Georgia and Utah -- have banned them.

The story in full is here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Danieal Kelly: an update

According to the Associated Press (June 13, 2009), 65-year-old Manuelita Buenaflor, a social-services employee with MultiEthnic Behavioral Services, admitted last Wednesday that she helped forge documents and failed to supervise case workers, a lapse that prosecutors say contributed to the death by starvation in 2006 of 14-year-old Danieal Kelly. Ms Buenaflor, who has doctoral degrees in theology and child development, pleaded guilty to two fraud counts and conspiracy. For readers unfamiliar with this case, Danieal Kelly, who had cerebral palsy, died of starvation while under the supervision of Philadephia's Department of Human Services. At the time of her death, she weighed just 46 pounds and her back was full of gaping bedsores infested with maggots. Her death and other failures by the DHS resulted in nine indictments, the firing of two DHS top officials and a number of reforms at the agency. As conveyed by FRIDA a few weeks ago, Danieal's mother, Andrea Kelly pleaded guilty at the end of April to third-degree murder and child endangerment in connection with her death. From the Associated Press article:

Manuelita Buenaflor, 65, of Philadelphia became the first official with MultiEthnic Behavioral Services to enter a plea in the case, although two underlings have signed guilty pleas.

The city paid MultiEthnic a $1 million a year to visit at-risk children like Danieal Kelly, a disabled girl who lived in a chaotic home with an unfit mother, and make sure they were receiving needed services.

MultiEthnic documents suggest they made the required visits with Danieal, a 14-year-old with cerebral palsy. But she had severe bed sores, weighed just 42 pounds and had long stopped going to school when her maggot-infested body was found in the squalid, stifling home in August 2006.

The story in full is here.
Hundreds of workers admonished for ill-treating residents at Texas institutions

The Associated Press has obtained information about abuse, neglect and other conditions at Texas institutions for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities showing that 268 workers were fired or suspended for mis-treating residents in 2008. According to the Associated Press (June 13, 2009), during the same period, 53 residents died from conditions the Department of Justice considered preventable, "indicating lapses in proper care." The documents obtained by the AP also show that 11 of the firings or suspensions were considered serious because they invovled physical or sexual abuse that caused or may have caused serious physical injury.
The revelations come a day after Gov. Rick Perry signed legislation aimed at improving security and oversight at the 13 institutions, known as state schools. They are home to about 4,600 residents and more than 12,000 full-time employees.
The full article can be read here.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday round-up

Update (June 12) - The Associated Press reports that William Cozzie was sentenced yesterday to more than three years in federal prison. From the Chicago Tribune, June 11, 2009 - A Chicago police officer, William Cozzi, faces up to 8 years in prison when he is sentenced on Thursday afternoon for the videotaped beating of a man handcuffed and shackled to a wheelchair in 2005. William Cozzi pleaded guilty in January to using excessive force when he struck Randy Miles, a hospital patient, about a dozen times with a sap, a leather spatula-shaped object.

From the Associated Press, June 11, 2009 - A report from the Government Accountability Office has found that nearly one-third of the nation’s polling places failed to provide access to voters in wheelchairs in last November’s election. The study found that 23 percent of polling places denied privacy to voters with disabilities, and 73 percent had physical features that could impede access to people with disabilities. Hundreds of millions of federal dollars have been given to states to make polling places more accessible since the 2002 passage of the Help America Vote Act.

From the Miami Herald in Miami, Florida, June 11, 2009 - "A Miami man caring for a severely disabled daughter is suing Medicaid for its refusal to pay for her diapers." The man, who is widowed and unemployed, says he can't afford the diapers and other necessities for his family, and has asked Medicaid, the state's insurance program for the needy, to help. Medicaid administrators have refused to pay. They haven't explained why they won't pay, other than say the items aren't in the state's plan, say the man's attorneys. Two other states had excluded diapers from their Medicaid plans, Arizona and Louisiana, said one of the man's lawyers with Legal Services of Greater Miami. Both states lost court challenges. "Diapers may not appear to be medical equipment or devices," said another attorney who works with Florida Legal Services. But ''there is a whole other world of children who are so disabled that they are incontinent,'' she added.

From the Associated Press in Paris, Texas, June 11, 2009 - An 18-year-old teenager with severe intellectual disabilities was sentenced to 100 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting his 6-year-old neighbor. Aaron Hart of Paris pleaded guilty to five counts, including aggravated sexual assault and indecency by contact. According to the report, the judge decided to stack the sentences against Hart after jurors settled on two five-year terms and three 30-year terms. The judge said neither he nor jurors liked the idea of prison for Hart but they felt there was no other option.

From the Fresno Bee in Fresno, California, June 10, 2009 - The mother of a California teenager with Down syndrome said she is frustrated that her son and 10 other students in his special education class were left out of the 2009 Madera High School yearbook. The district blamed the oversight on new software that weeded out photos of students whose identification numbers were not in the school system since the Madera County Office of Education, not the high school, runs the special-education class.

From the Mid Hudson News, Rockland County, New York, June 9, 2009 - A Congers woman, who cared for a disabled man, has been arrested and charged with stealing thousands of dollars from him. Debra Ann Mills, 53, was charged with grand larceny in the third degree. It is alleged that Ms Mills stole over $3,000 from a trust fund for the benefit of the man over a 13 month period. She had access to the fund set up for him by his late mother.

From Housing Wire, June 9, 2009 - An annual congressional report by the US Department of Housing in Urban Development says consumers filed a record 10,552 fair housing discrimination complaints in fiscal year 2008. Discrimination based on disability accounted for 44% of the complaints while 35% of complaints alleged discrimination based on race. Complaints were filed on the basis of alleged discrimination in terms, conditions, privileges, services, or facilities involved in the sale or rental of housing.

From The Washington Post, June 9, 2009 - The growing population of elderly and disabled people in the Washington area is threatening to overwhelm the door-to-door regional paratransit service that Metro operates for those who are unable to ride the subway or bus, according to officials.

From 24dash.com: More than half of British society sees disabled people as "inferior", according to research published June 8. Disability charity Scope said it found 53% viewed disabled people "in a negative way". The equality rights campaigners said an online survey also found 38% of respondents thought the disabled were a "drain on resources". However, the findings showed a strong public backing for action in favour of disabled people's equality. (h/t Media dis&dat)

From the New York Times, June 9, 2009 - A national survey by the National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare, a division of the United Health Group, finds that the economic crisis has dealt a heavy blow to the estimated 44 million Americans who care for an aging or disabled relative or spouse. According to the survey, one in six caregivers said they had lost a job during the downturn. Some 21 percent said they had to share housing with family members to save money. At the same time, government and non-profit organizations that usually provide relief are being cut in the downturn.

From the Chicago Tribune, June 5, 2009 - The federal government sued United Airlines on Thursday, saying the carrier made it too hard for workers who became disabled to switch to other jobs they could perform. The lawsuit accuses United of "malicious and reckless conduct" and seeks lost wages and punitive damages for victims and an order that United stop discriminating against disabled workers.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sex crime reports

Grand Rapids, Michigan, June 10, 2009 - Grand Rapid News reports that a former employee of Rest Haven Homes has been charged with sexually assaulting a resident with developmental disabilities between March and May last year. Daniel Griswold, 26, of Wyoming, was arraigned Friday on single counts of gross indecency between a male and female, and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Columbus, Ohio, June 9, 2009 - According to Fox News, a former caregiver at Ohio Hospital for Psychiatry, Christopher Wiggins, has been charged with sexual assaulting a 17-year-old girl who is being treated as a patient. According to investigators, the assault took place inside the facility. Columbus Police were first notified after another patient told staff something was wrong. Wiggins is also under investigation for other allegations.

Mableton, Georgia (June 3, 2009) - As reported by WSBTV, 73-year-old William Stubbs was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a disabled 61-year-old woman at Emory-Adventist Hospital in Smyrna. According to police, Stubbs, inappropriately touched the woman while visiting the hospital on May 24. He is charged with aggravated sexual battery, sexual battery and exploitation of the elderly, according to his arrest warrant.

Staunton, Virginia, June 1, 2009 - News Virginia reports that a 73-year-old Staunton man has been charged with sexually assaulting a 26-year-old blind and developmentally disabled woman at his home on Sunday morning. John Oehlerking is charged with forcible sodomy. According to an investigator with the sheriff's office, Oehlerking and the women were acquaintances.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Review of Disability Studies, Volume 5, Issue 2, on-line now

To check out the latest issue of RDS (Volume 5, Issue 2) free on-line, click here.

Here is the table of contents:

Research Articles

Gender and Disability: A First Look at Rehabilitation Syllabi and a Call to Action p. 3, Allen N. Lewis, Sarah Jane Brubaker,& Amy J. Armstrong, Virginia Commonwealth University, USA

A Race Apart: Genocide and the Protection of Disabled Persons Under International Law p. 15, A. Rahman Ford, University of Pennsylvania, USA

Promising Interventions for Promoting STEM Fields to Students Who Have Disabilities p. 29, Sheryl Burgstahler, University of Washington, USA & Chuan Chang, University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA

Essays and Creative Works

Little Displays: The Photographs of Ricardo Gil p. 48, Ann Millet, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA

Book and Media Reviews

Quick Guides to Inclusion: Ideas for Educating Students with Disabilities p. 57, Reviewed by Megan A. Conway

My Body of Knowledge: Stories of Disability, Healing, and Life p. 5, Reviewed by Steven E. Brown

The Facts of Life and More: Sexuality and Intimacy for People with Intellectual Disabilities p. 58, Reviewed by Rhonda S. Black

Instructional Materials for Teaching Sociology & Disability Studies p. 60, Reviewed by Heng-hao Chang, Disability Studies Dissertation Abstracts

(Via Megan A. Conway, Ph.D., Assistant Professor Editor, Review of Disability Studies (RDS)www.rds.hawaii.edu, Training Coordinator, OPE/IST Project http://www.ist.hawaii.edu/ Center on Disability Studies, University of Hawaii at Manoa)
Lawsuit alleging gross negligence filed against PA psychiatric facility

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 9, 2009 - A 15-year-old girl and her parents have filed a lawsuit against Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic after she was allegedly sexually assaulted while she was a patient at the facility last summer. As reported by the Post Gazette:

The girl, who is not named in the complaint to protect her identity, claims that she was in her room about 9:50 p.m. on July 26 when a 16-year-old male patient entered and sexually assaulted her.

The lawsuit alleges that the day before the attack she told a doctor there that the boy had been acting inappropriately with her and that he had been intrusive.

According to the report, "the claim alleges gross negligence and corporate gross negligence". It also includes charges that the staff failed to properly supervise adolescent patients and allowed male and female patients to be housed on the same unit.

The story is full is here.
Wednesday blog-around

Recommended reading:

The social reality of a new disability by Brilliant Mind Broken Body

FYI by Emma over a Wheelchair Princess

Dancing in Your Bones by Wheelchair Dancer

Dora Raymaker's two posts about Susan Boyle and disablist attitudes: Ability and Vulnerability and Appearance and Expectation

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Fatal fire in Pittsfield, New Hampshire

NECN in Pittsfied, New Hampshire reports that a man and his disabled daughter died in fire that broke out in their second floor apartment yesterday morning (June 8) in Pittsfield, New Hampshire. An excerpt from the article:

The fire broke out shortly after five o'clock in a four unit apartment house on Main Street.

Before long, more than 40 firefighters were on scene, but it was too late.

The victims died in a second floor apartment and were found near the front of the building.

Witnesses say that the father had run out to get help but went back inside to try and rescue his daughter.

The wife and mother of the victims was not at home at the time.

The only other tenant of the building was able to get out safely.

It is not yet known how the fire started. The names of the man and his daughter have not been released but neighbors say they lived in the building for the last eight years or so.
Op-ed: "Does disability really need to be 'fixed'?"

"Does disability really need to be fixed?" is the title of this op-ed by John Lee Clark in Sunday's Star Tribune (Minneapolis-St Paul, Minnesota). John Lee Clark is a deaf-blind writer from St. Paul whose work has appeared in many publications. His chapbook of poems is "Suddenly Slow" (Handtype Press, 2008). Here is the beginning of his piece:

Every time there is an advance in surgical audiology or genetic engineering, a wave of alarm ripples through the signing community. Doctors are intent on eradicating deafness. They subscribe to the belief that there's something wrong with being deaf. So they make it their business to try to fix it, hoping to ultimately wipe it out from humankind.

But those who are culturally deaf are worried about the future of their language and their way of life, both of which are beloved to them. I can identify with their fears, because I was born deaf to an all-deaf family. American Sign Language is my native language. I graduated from the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf, where I enjoyed a rich education. I went to Gallaudet University, the world's premier institution of higher education with a mainly deaf student body.

It was where my parents met and where I fell in love with a deaf woman who is now my wife. Although our three sons are hearing, ASL is their native language, and they are members of the signing community as much as we are. I love being deaf and would not change it for the world.

The article in full is here.

Monday, June 08, 2009

NCIL annual march and rally Washington DC on Monday, June 8

From the AAPD Justice for All blog:

As a part of its Annual Conference, the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) will again be marching for the rights of people with disabilities through the streets of Washington, on its way to an energetic rally on the West Front Lawn of the U.S. Capitol.

Speakers, including Senator Tom Harkin, will energize conference participants and other advocates as they prepare for their visits on Capitol Hill. NCIL would like to extend an invitation to join its march and rally to fellow CCD members and others in their organizations. If you are interested in participating in the march, here are the details:

WHEN? Monday, June 8

WHERE? Meet outside of the Grand Hyatt Washington, at the corner of 11th and G Streets NW. March participants will be organized into regions, so find the state you wish to join!

TIME? Begin lining up at from 9:30-10 a.m. The march will last until about 11 a.m. at the Capitol.

If you would like to skip the march and join us at the Capitol, here are the details:

WHEN? Monday, June 8

WHERE? West Front Lawn of the U.S. Capitol

TIME? 11:30a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Later in the day, a Congressional briefing on long-term-care and supports will occur:

WASHINGTON, DC -- Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Chairman Edward M. Kennedy is committed to health reform that ensures vulnerable populations have access to coverage that meets their needs, including long-term services and support. On Monday, June 8, 2009 the Committee will host an open press Congressional briefing to provide an update on current HELP efforts to include long-term services and support in health reform.

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), a HELP Committee member and long-time advocate for individuals with disabilities, will be joined by senior Congressional staffers Connie Garner and Lee Perselay and Dr. Barbara Manard, from the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (AAHSA). Also participating: Mike Oxford of the Topeka Independent Living Resource Center and two-time Purple Heart Recipient and disabled Vietnam Veteran John Henry Douglas from Lake City, Florida.


* Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA)
* Connie Garner, Disability and Special Needs Population Policy Director for Senator Kennedy
* Lee Perselay, Disability Counsel for Senator Harkin
* Barbara Manard, Ph.D., Vice-President of Long-Term Care/Health Strategies for the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (AAHSA)
* Mike Oxford, Executive Director of the Topeka Independent Living Resource Center
* John Henry Douglas, Disabled Vietnam Veteran and recipient of two Purple Hearts, Lake City, FL

WHAT: Congressional briefing on long-term services and support

WHEN: 2 p.m. Monday, June 8, 2009

WHERE: Russell Caucus Room (SR 325)
Hate crime charges

From the Los Angeles Times (June 4, 2009):

A 41-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and committing a hate crime after he allegedly threw a metal bolt at participants running in the Special Olympics Torch Run in Valencia, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.

Deputies from the sheriff’s Santa Clarita station were running with the children in the torch run at about 3:25 p.m. at the intersection of McBean Parkway and Arroyo Park Drive when a man inside a vehicle began yelling at the children to get off the road, using a derogatory term regarding their sexual orientation, sheriff's officials said in a statement.

The man, identified as David Robert Schwartz, allegedly threw the bolt at the children, which came close to two of them. Schwartz was taken into custody a short time later. Schwartz was being held at the Santa Clarita jail in lieu of a $50,000 bail.

Detroit special education student handcuffed to school door for four hours

From Click on Detroit in Michigan, (June 6, 2009) (see also WJBK-FoxNews and AP/Chicago Tribune):

DETROIT -- The Detroit Public School District has launched an investigation into the treatment of a special education student.

The student was reportedly handcuffed to the principal's door following a fight at Sampson-Webber Elementary School on June 1.

According to school board member Marie Thorton, the school staff said the principal ordered a Detroit Public Schools police officer to handcuff the boy to a door in her office.

Thornton said the boy, a fourth-grader, remained handcuffed from 11:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. when he was allowed to go home.

The full story is here.

(h/t Patricia E Bauer)

Friday, June 05, 2009

Friday round-up

From the Daily Press in Newport News, Virginia (June 4, 2004) - Damages of $750,000 have been awarded against the owner of Dote de Neige Home for Adults, an assisted living facility in Newport News, after charges were brought against a former staffer who is accused of sexually assaulting a 55-year-old intellectually disabled man. The case against the assisted living facility and its owner, Rose Daniels Potter, was brought by the sister of the man who was a resident at the home. The lawsuit claimed the home and Potter failed in their duty to exercise "reasonable care" when they hired Junious Boyd Batten, 40, of Newport News, as a certified nursing assistant, despite his previous criminal record.

From the Providence Journal (June 4, 2004) - About 2,000 people rallied outside the Rhode Island State House this week to protest possible cuts in services for people with developmental disabilities in a time of economic uncertainty. The protest was organized in response to recent comments by the chairman of the House Finance Committee saying that budget-weary lawmakers had not ruled out sweeping cuts to human-service programs for elderly people and those with disabilities.

From the Associated Press in Orlando, Florida (June 4, 2009) - Activists for people with disabilities brought their Segways into a federal court June 3 to urge a judge to reject a settlement between Walt Disney World and three visitors restricting the use of the personal transporters at the resort. Two-dozen activists parked Segways in the back of the courtroom where U.S. District Judge George Presnell is considering whether to approve the settlement between Disney and three visitors who were prohibited from bringing the vehicles into the theme parks.

From the On Call blog for the Palm Beach Post in Florida (June 4, 2009) - A West Palm Beach nursing home has been fined $16,000 by state regulators after a patient was found injured on the floor with maggots crawling out of his leg cast. The Azalea Court nursing home was faulted for failing to have a comprehensive care plan for the resident that included caring for his broken leg. “The 120-bed facility failed to provide the necessary care and services to a resident with the cast and wound of lower leg, resulting in an infestation of maggots,” stated the state inspection report dated August 2008. (h/t to Media dis&dat)

From BBC News in the United Kingdom (June 3, 2009) - Debbie Purdy, a British woman who has multiple sclerosis, has asked the House of Lords to clarify its law on assisted suicide. Ms Purdy plans to go abroad to Swiss clinic Dignitas to end her life, but fears her husband may be prosecuted if he helps. Ms Purdy has already lost High and Appeal court cases and if she loses this challenge the only option open to her would be to go to the European Court of Human Rights. Lord Pannick QC, who is representing Ms Purdy, said she and her husband wanted to know whether he was likely to be prosecuted and what criteria the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) takes into account when deciding whether to bring a charge under the Suicide Act.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (June 2, 2009) - A group of disabled people rallied against a state Senate-passed budget proposal May 31, saying that deep cuts to key programs would force more disabled people out of their homes and into nursing homes.

From the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire, (June 2, 2009) - Disability advocate David Robar died of pneumonia on Sunday. He was 44. After recovering from a motorcycle accidentthat left him paralyzed below the chest at age 26, Robar became an advocate in Concord and Washington, D.C., for people with disabilities, "winning over lawmakers as he explained how various bills would give people like him the rights assumed by other Americans."
Shylea Thomas: an update

The Associated Press in Flint, Michigan reported yesterday that a hearing began on Tuesday to determine if Shylea Thomas's aunt and adoptive mother Lorrie Thomas will stand trial for murder and other charges in connection with her death. As conveyed in an earlier Frida post, the emaciated body of 9-year-old Shylea Thomas, who was quadraplegic, was found on April 20 in a public storage facility. 39-year-old Lorrie Thomas was arraigned on six charges, including second-degree murder, child abuse, tampering with evidence, welfare fraud and removing a body with permission. According to authorities, an examination of the evidence showed that Shylea was extremely neglected and died of malnutrition about six weeks before her body was found.

The full article is here.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Home care worker neglect charges

Saint Paul, Minnesota (June 3, 2009) - According to Pioneer Press/Twin Cities, a home care worker has been shown on videotape neglecting to feed two adolescent teens with disabilities in her care. The tape also shows her "sleeping on the job," and in one case, having sex with a male friend in the children's living area. From the article:

Concerns about the home care worker surfaced in late October after the parents took the brothers to an emergency room because of their alarming weight loss.

The children receive 24-hour nursing care due to their myotubular myopathy, a condition that severely diminishes their ability to move, eat and breathe on their own. After a doctor suggested that the family's overnight nursing aide might not be conducting their tube feedings, the family reviewed videotape from their home.

While the aide was recording regular feedings in medical records, a week's worth of tape showed that she wasn't conducting all of the scheduled feedings and was turning off the boys' feeding pumps for short periods.

The tape also showed the worker sleeping on the job and leaving for prolonged smoking breaks, and in one case she "had sexual intercourse with a male friend in the children's living quarters," according to the May 21 state report, which was released Tuesday.

The worker, who has been fired, was employed by Divine HealthCare Network, which serves eight counties and has been operating for eight years. According to the report, no penalties have been issued by the state against the agency, and there have been other substantiated cases of abuse or neglect against the agency since 2005.

A nurse from the agency said she had noticed that the aide was writing the exact same medical reports every night and was leaving out key information. The nurse also told investigators she had noticed from daily reports that the children had been losing weight.

See also this report in the Star Tribune.
School janitor charged with sexual assault

Orange, California (June 3) - According to KTLA, 49-year-old Luis Mejia, who is a janitor at El Modena High School, has been charged with sexually assaulting a young girl in the school's special education program. It is alleged that the assaults took place in his office at the school before, during and after classes, for a period of four months, starting in December 2008. From the article:

Prosecutors say Mejia lured the girl with money and gifts.

He also exchanged 'love' notes with the girl as well as more than 100 calls and text messages, according to prosecutors.

During the incidents, Mejia allegedly tricked another janitor to cover a video surveillance camera with tape when he went into his office alone with the victim. According to ABC7, he told the employee there was going to be painting done and the camera had to be protected from any paint.

Mejia has been an employee of the school for 12 years, according to the report, and is now on adminstrative leave while he faces charges. He faces a maximum of 12 years and eight months in prison if convicted.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Sexual assault and prostitution charges

Appleton, Wisconsin, USA (June 2) - John Perry-Rydz, 25, and his wife, Elizabeth Perry-Rydz, 28, were charged on Friday with the sexual assault and prostitution, sometimes in exchange for gifts, of a 21-year-old woman with developmental disabilities. According to the criminal complaint, the assaults happened over a two-year period, beginning when the woman was 19-year-old. As reported in the Post Crescent:
On at least two of those occasions, the victim was asked for sexual favors in exchange for items purchased for her by John Perry-Rydz. One of those was his payment for a belly button piercing and on another occasion, in exchange for a video game and some articles of clothing.
The couple are scheduled to appear in court on June 16 on two counts of second-degree sexual assault and two counts of prostitution.

According to the article, John Perry-Rydz has been held in jail since March 25 on 22 counts of possessing child pornography and additional charges. He pleaded not guilty by reason of "mental disease or defect" to those charges and a trial date is pending.
Dorothy Dixon update: Jury trial for Michelle Riley has been scheduled

Via the blogger at What About Our Daughters comes word that the jury trial for Michelle Riley, who has been charged with murder in the killing last year of Dorothy Dixon, has been scheduled for August 17, 2009, at 9.00am. For readers unfamiliar with this case, Dorothy Dixon was a 29-year-old, pregnant, African American woman with an intellectual disability who died in January, 2008, from the injuries she had accumulated after being subjected to months of physical abuse. According to the coroners report, Dorothy had been beaten, scalded, burned with a glue gun, as well as shot repeatedly with a BB gun. Her unborn child was delivered stillborn during her autopsy. Michelle Riley, 35, Judy Woods, 43, three teenagers and a 12-year-old boy have been charged with her murder.

The full post at What About Our Daughters is here.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Wednesday blog-around

Recommended reading:

Cripchick - On Gender and Disability (and the discussion that follows in the comments section)

ABFH (Whose Planet is it Anyway) - A Diagnostic Label is Not an Insult

Dora Raymaker (one of the authors over at the Autism.change.org) - Cross-civil rights on Marriage discrimination

Family sues NYC, alleging daughter is being abused by other students on school bus

From WABC-TV in New York (June 1, 2009):

NEW YORK -- The family of a young disabled girl is suing the city, claiming she is being abused by a fellow student on her school bus and even inside the school. Michael Tucker says his daughter, Tytia, was born with brain damage and cerebral palsy.

After several years as a special education student at P.S. 396, we're told Tytia never had a problem until last December.

On a bus outside the school, she was allegedly bitten on the face by another special education student. Tucker says there were four other incidents of biting or scratching.

The latest incident is said to have happened on May 28, apparently leading to a mark on Tytia's face.

The Department of Education told Eyewitness News that according to the Superintendent responsible for the school, all of the complaints involving Tytia were investigated and were unfounded.

But Tucker showed us a report from the Office of School Health, indicating that Tytia suffered a face bite back in December. Also, the school bus driver filed an incident report.
Tennessee sees large rise in disability and religion based hate crimes

Nashville, Tennessee (May 31, 2009) - A report released by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says there was a big increase in 2008 in bias against people based on disability and religion. According to the report, the only decline in reported cases of hate crimes in Tenessee was in crimes based on ethnicity. As reported in AP/Chattanooga Times Free Press and the Tennesseean, crimes against people with disabilities rose 88 percent to 42 total offenses, as the total number of hate crimes in the state rose 38 percent to 515 in 2008. Most of the hate crimes against people with disabilities involved theft, assault and burglaries. Experts said the increase could be attributed to the poor economy. From the article in the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

“When people are feeling desperate and pressured in times like these … you’re going to try to find the most vulnerable person to victimize,” said Carol Westlake, executive director of the Tennessee Disability Coalition.


“I think we sort of overall are seeing, particularly in Tennessee, a little bit of a general backlash against people with disabilities,” Westlake said. “I think that has to do with state budget crisis and money being tight everywhere.

“There’s this underlying message that too often people with disabilities aren’t as valued because there’s a perception they’re not contributing to society and the economics of the state,” making victimization easier, she said.

The article in full is here.

(h/t Patricia E Bauer)

Monday, June 01, 2009

Woman charged in husband's death

North Austin, Texas, USA - Katherine Yarbrough, 52, was charged last Thursday with murder for allegedly killing her husband, 62-year-old Lloyd Yarbrough, by injecting an overdose of prescription pills through his feeding tube. As reported in the Austin American-Statesman (May 29), it is believed that Ms Yarbrough killed her husband, who was unable to move or feed himself because of viral encephalitis, which involves swelling of the brain and nerve damage, because "she had grown exhausted from caring for him for years." Mr Yarbrough had been in that condition for two years. According to the article:

Although investigators initially believed that Lloyd Yarbrough's death was from natural causes and that Katherine Yarbrough tried to kill herself afterward out of grief, Katherine Yarbrough made comments to investigators that made them think a crime had been committed, the affidavit said.

Sgt. Joseph Chacon of the Austin Police Department said Katherine Yarbrough's goal was to kill her husband and herself with the pills.

According to the article, police found Ms Yarbrough and her husband in their home last Wednesday after a home-healthcare agency reported that they had not heard from the them. The couple were taken to a hospital, where Mr Yarbrough died. After she was revived, Ms Yarbrough began suggesting that she killed her husband, said a Travis County seriff's spokesman, who described Mr Yarbrough as requiring 24-hour care from his wife and the healthcare company.

Ms Yarbrough was in the Travis County Jail on Friday with bail set at $20,000. She faces life in prison if convicted.