Sunday, November 01, 2009

FRIDA Update; Dixon Killer Pleads Guilty; O'Leary Case Indictments; Hate Crimes Bill Signed

Since this past July, the FRIDA blog has been on hiatus due to the retiring of our regular blogger, Linda Edwards. However, have no fear, FRIDA Fighters! We continue to look for regular contributors and I will post myself as time allows. Sometimes life can get in the way of FRIDAs, but we will never desert our cause. If you are interested in being a FRIDA blogger, please e-mail me at ambity (at) aol dot com.

A key update, for those who may have missed it, is that Michelle Riley, who was accused of being the ringleader of the group that tortured Dorothy Dixon to death, pled guilty last week. See the story at this link: We do not yet know what her sentence will be, but may it fit the crime.

In New Jersey, a grand jury indicted a care giver and a state employee in the neglect-related death of Tara O'Leary, a woman with a developmental disability. See the story at

I am sickened at the continuing neglect and abuse of people with disabilities of all ages and gender identities. It bothers me deeply that the overwhelming majority of people who can claim the title of "caregiver" are women and people who identify as women, and that women attendants and caregivers are often the perpetrators of neglect and abuse of people with disabilities. I feel very strongly that if society really valued and understood the role of attendants and caregivers, we would see much less of these abuse and neglect cases. In addition, if state case workers really knew how to do their jobs and report abuse when they see it, many of these deaths would not happen.

Can these cases be considered hate crimes? Given that we now have a new hate crimes law that covers people with disabilities as a protected class, this is a question worth considering. Would Tara O'Leary and Dorothy Dixon have died if they did not have disabilities that made them easy targets for abuse? I can only guess that they would not. Did their murderers intentionally kill them just because they had a disability? That gets foggy. Were they tired? Did they have a disability themselves? Was financial stress a cause that could be cited? Seems hard to prove and I'd love to hear feedback from the community on what you think about this issue. Any lawyers or victims advocates out there with an angle on the issue?