Wednesday, January 20, 2010

MA: Prosecutor: Mom drugged girl, 4, to death

NOTE: There are quite a number of issues here: first, a psychiatrist who diagnosed the little girl with ADHD at age 2, bipolar disorder at age 3, and prescribed medications not approved for use in young children; next, parents allegedly over-medicated her and then didn't seek medical treatment after she developed pneumonia; and finally - a preschool, where staff are all mandated reporters - did not report their suspicions of abuse by over-medicating, even after the school principal reported that once the child was so "floppy" and lethargic - to the extent that the child was unable to walk on her own - that the principal personally had to carry the child into the school building after she'd been dropped off.

The end result: A dead four year old little girl. And the tragedies continue...

‘Evil scheme’ to get Social Security benefits alleged in Mass. trial

updated 4:52 a.m. ET, Wed., Jan. 20, 2010
BROCKTON, Mass. - In an "evil scheme," a Massachusetts mother fabricated symptoms of mental illness to get her 4-year-old daughter powerful drugs, then overmedicated the girl and allowed her to die when she became ill with pneumonia, a prosecutor said Tuesday at the woman's murder trial.

Assistant District Attorney Frank Middleton said Carolyn Riley took her daughter, Rebecca, to a psychiatrist when she was 28 months old in hopes of getting her diagnosed with mental illness and put on drugs so she and her husband could collect Social Security disability payments for the girl.

Middleton said Carolyn Riley consistently overmedicated the girl, giving her more than the amount prescribed by a psychiatrist. Then, when the girl became ill with pneumonia in the final days of her life, Carolyn Riley ignored the urgent pleas of three people who lived with them and refused to take her daughter to a doctor. Instead, Middleton said, she gave her daughter almost twice the amount of drugs prescribed by the psychiatrist.

"This defendant began an evil scheme that ended in murder," Middleton said.

Husband also faces trial
Riley and her husband, Michael, are both accused of murder in their daughter's December 2006 death in Hull. Michael Riley will go on trial after his wife.

Middleton showed jurors a note written by Carolyn Riley in which she detailed how much money the family was collecting through Social Security disability benefits — $2,668 per month — and how much additional money she hoped to collect — $633 per month — if she could convince Social Security doctors that Rebecca also had a mental disability.

But Carolyn Riley's attorney, Victoria Bonilla, said Carolyn took Rebecca to a psychiatrist when she was 2 because she was concerned about the girl, who was very active and had difficulty sleeping.

She said Carolyn Riley followed the instructions of the psychiatrist, Dr. Kayoko Kifuji, who diagnosed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder when the girl was 2 and bipolar disorder shortly after she turned 3. It was Dr. Kifuji, Bonilla said, who prescribed Clonidine for the ADHD and Depakote for bipolar disorder.

Defense: ‘Not nefarious’
"This is not nefarious," Bonilla said, but consistent with common medical practice to treat ADHD with Clonidine.

Bonilla also disputed allegations made by prosecutors that Carolyn Riley ignored pleas to help her daughter after she became ill with pneumonia. She said Carolyn Riley bought her daughter some children's cold medicine and gave it to her.

"Carolyn Riley did everything she could to treat her child. Carolyn Riley thought her daughter had a cold," she said.

Bonilla said a defense medical expert, as well as a prosecution expert, came to the conclusion that Rebecca died of pneumonia, not a drug overdose.

"She did not die at the hands of her mother," Bonilla said.

Middleton, however, said that in the last year of her life, Rebecca Riley was given well over the amount of Clonidine prescribed by Kifuji.

Middleton used a gruesome photo of Rebecca in his opening statement to the jury.

The photo, taken by police after her mother found her dead on the floor of their bedroom, shows the little girl wearing only a pink pull-up diaper, lying on a pile of magazines and clothing and a stuffed bear. She had a pink liquid oozing from her nose and mouth.

Carolyn Riley showed little emotion after her daughter was found dead, Middleton said. Later that day, he said, when Carolyn and Michael Riley went to get their daughter's things at her school, the principal saw them "joking and laughing" outside the school.

But Bonilla said Carolyn Riley was a "loving and caring parent," and was seen distraught by emergency responders after she found her daughter dead on the floor near her bed.

"She was cradling the child. She was hysterical," Bonilla said.

Like a ‘floppy doll’
One of the first witnesses to testify for prosecutors was Ellen McCarthy, the nurse at the Weymouth preschool Rebecca attended during the year before her death.

McCarthy said that in the months before her death, Rebecca was so lethargic and weak she was like a "floppy doll."

"When she was in the gym, she would sit down on the floor with me and she would just flop down," McCarthy said.

McCarthy said she was concerned about the amount of medication Rebecca was taking. She also said no one at Rebecca's preschool saw the aggressive or violent behavior Carolyn Riley described when explaining why Rebecca was on the powerful drugs.

The school principal, Victoria Silverstein, said that she once had to help Rebecca get off the school van after the driver called in and said the girl was shaking. Silverstein said that when she went to help her, Rebecca collapsed, "so I picked her up in my arms and carried her into the school."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

PA: Delaware Valley School District to Pay $815,859 in Student Molestation Case

Excerpt from

Pike County, PA (PRWEB) January 11, 2010 -- The Delaware Valley School District and its insurer have agreed to pay $815,859 to a former elementary school student who was sexually abused by her teacher. The lawsuit (Civil action # 08-CV-581) filed on behalf of the Freeman family by Jack Cohen, Esquire, of Levy, Baldante, Finney, Rubenstein, Cohen & Chizmar, P.C. contends that school officials, including former Principal Robert L. Smith and former Superintendent James Melody, and current Superintendent Dr. Candis Finan, failed to heed numerous warnings about the teacher's conduct. The student, now 18-years-old, suffers from a multitude of psychological and social concerns.

The former student, identified as SF in the lawsuit, was a 7-year-old at Shohola Elementary School when she was sexually abused by Thomas Harvey Matthews, 51, her third grade teacher. Several years earlier the District had knowledge and documentation of Matthews' inappropriate behavior toward several students and one teacher but "failed to take necessary action", according to Cohen as stated in the civil suit filed in The United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

In 2000, four years after the alleged incident with SF, a female student of Matthews' came forward with allegations of sexual abuse. Later that year the District agreed to actively conceal Matthews' unlawful conduct in exchange for his alleged "voluntary resignation", and was even offered employment verification for a new teaching position in Virginia. Says Cohen, "All of these actions by the District and its officials demonstrate a clear evidence of deliberate indifference of the victims to the heinous actions of Matthews."

In the criminal case against Matthews in 2006, Matthews was sentenced to eleven and one-half years to twenty-four years for crimes committed against his former students. The sentence provides that he will serve his time in a state correctional institution. Prior to the sentence, Matthews was also held as a "sexually violent predator" under Pennsylvania's version of Meghan's Law.

The civil case, which was settled on December 17, 2009 (Civil action # 08-CV-581) in the United States District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania, concludes that the district, principal and superintendents should have taken immediate action against Matthews.

The lawsuit is the latest in a series of suits against school districts alleging that the districts knew or should have known of potential sexual abuse and failed to investigate the allegations adequately. "This case was especially egregious because there were so many signs that Matthews was a predator to the young children at the school," says Cohen, "The District, responsible for the caring of these children, did absolutely nothing to protect them from this monster. As parents we trust our school administrators and principals will act in our children's best interests, yet sadly this does not always happen, and this case is a perfect example of what happens when those in charge turn a blind eye."

"Principals and administrators want to believe it couldn't happen in their town," said Cohen. "Schools need to be vigilant, and hopefully this settlement will lead to increased programming for teachers and administrators."

The former student's parents, Karen and Matthew Freeman called on the superintendent and the school board to raise public awareness of the problem.

"The suit was never about financial compensation," said Mrs. Freeman. "Rather, we believe it was a necessary vehicle to raise the district's consciousness toward issues concerning the manipulation of power by a teacher over his or her students and the failure of administrators and the district to recognize and report such an abuse of power."

To read the article in its entirety, please click the following link:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

TX: 2009 Restraint Report Issued; Number Unchanged Since 2008

Excerpt from the Texas Tribune:

Still Restrained

By Emily Ramshaw

January 10, 2010

Texas educators forcibly pinned down students with disabilities as many times in 2009 as they did in 2008, despite efforts to curb the practice in public schools.

The static numbers hide dramatic drops in restraints in many large school districts. Because many smaller school districts reported restraints for the first time in 2009, statewide numbers remained virtually unchanged.

School districts like Leander and Garland, which had some of the most restraints in 2008, cut their numbers in half in 2009, according to data collected by the Texas Education Agency (TEA). But some tiny school districts reported dozens of restraints, even when they had just a few disabled students.

Of the 10 school districts that reported the most restraints of disabled students in 2008, all but one saw fewer restraints in 2009. The Northside school district in San Antonio reported 1,604 restraints in 2009 — up almost 13 percent from the previous year. Meanwhile, Leander’s restraints dropped by 55 percent. Austin’s fell by 22 percent. And Garland more than halved its restraints.


Advocates for children with disabilities say it’s a good sign that restraints appear to be dropping in many large school districts — though they question whether the practice is being phased out, or whether districts have simply changed their reporting method.

“If there are some drops, I think it’s entirely random,” said Steve Elliot, an attorney who reviews school districts restraints for the non-profit Advocacy, Inc. “There is no evidence the state has been doing anything about it.”

And they say restraints, which are dangerous and are supposed to be used only as a last resort, are still far too prevalent in Texas schools. In both 2008 and 2009, Texas educatorsrestrained students with disabilities roughly 18,000 times a year — an average of 100 times a day. In some cases, the children were injured, suffering everything from bruises and black eyes to broken bones.

To access the full article, please click the following link:

Monday, January 11, 2010


Florida House of Representatives

Representative Dorothy L. Hukill

District 28


Contact: Lindsey Swindle

Phone: 386-316-9033

1/11/2010 4:30 PM


Tallahassee – On Wednesday, January 13th, State Representative Dorothy L. Hukill (R-Port Orange) will hold a press conference on House Bill 81, which restricts the use of restraint and seclusion on students with disabilities. The legislation would ban the use of seclusion rooms and restrict the use of manual physical restraint to emergency situations as well as require incidents to be reported and tracked. Florida currently has no regulations in place on the use of restraint or seclusion.

While under supervision or due to lack of proper supervision, there have been many instances of students dying or being severely traumatized from being restrained or placed in seclusion. Some children do to their physical limitations are unable to speak out against this type of treatment. This bill serves to create a safe environment for all students and school personnel. House Bill 81 has been endorsed by numerous disability rights groups, many of whom will have representatives join Representative Hukill in speaking. The press conference will be on Wednesday January 13th, on the 4th floor rotunda of The Capitol building, 400 South Monroe Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1300.

WHO: State Representative Dorothy L. Hukill, Parents of children restrained or placed into seclusion rooms, Representatives of disability rights groups.

WHAT: Press Conference on House Bill 81

WHEN: Wednesday January 13th, 2010 at 11:00am

WHERE: 4th Floor Rotunda, Capitol Building, Tallahassee, Florida.


AR: 11 year old Autistic boy, IQ of 68, charged with Felonious Assault January 10th, 2010

http://www.theautis 2010/01/10/ 11-year-old- autistic- boy-iq-of- 68-charged- with-felonious- assault/

By the-newrepublic. blogspot. com

11 year old Zakhqurey Price, has struggled to cope at the Beard Elementary School in Fort Smith, Arkansas, after repeated attempts by his parents to ensure the delivery of the support recommended by the Ozark Guidance and Counseling Center, which included a full-time 1 on 1 aide, failed.

They cornered him and tried to take him down

On Oct 30th, Zakhqurey exhibited behaviors manifested by his Autism, which led to restraints. The police were called. In the process of attempting to restrain him, two staff members were injured and filed felony charges against the 11 year old child.

Taken away in handcuffs and booked

They cornered him and tried to take him down, he fought back. There were very minor injuries to principal and teacher. The fifth grader was taken away in handcuffs and booked with juvenile criminals. He has an IQ of 68

Zak is due in court this Monday morning and faces being detained for at least a month at a Mental Institute for assessment.

His parents have launched an the Zakh Appeal for help to pay for a specialist lawyer to represent them.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

CA: D.A. to review case against Del Norte coach

Excerpt from the San Diego Tribune:


— A 35-year-old high school soccer coach was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of committing sex crimes and fired from his job after reports of inappropriate behavior.

Robin Alarcon, who coached the girls freshman soccer team at Del Norte High School in 4S Ranch, was arrested by San Diego police officers on suspicion of luring a minor for a sexual offense and sending harmful material to a minor with intent to seduce, San Diego sex crimes Lt. Rick O’Hanlon said yesterday.

Alarcon, a coach on other campuses as well, is accused of sending a few “very inappropriate” text messages to a female student Tuesday night, O’Hanlon said.

The victim’s mother told The San Diego Union-Tribune that the incident began when her 14-year-old daughter, a freshman on the soccer team, texted Alarcon asking what color jersey she was supposed to wear in the upcoming game.


His response was flirty, and the girl tried to end the conversation, her mother said. The texts started up again the next morning and got more sexually explicit, including one text in which he reportedly invited the girl and a fellow teammate to join him and his girlfriend in an “orgy.”


“She didn’t do anything to provoke that kind of behavior. I’m thankful nothing worse happened,” she said.

The girl informed school officials about the messages shortly after, and police were immediately notified, O’Hanlon said. Alarcon was arrested at the school about 2 p.m. and is being held on $75,000 bail at the downtown San Diego jail.

For the full article, please click the following link:

Coaches Gone Wild

Excerpt from Tampa Bay Online:

Tough is OK; abuse is not
By Joey Johnston
January 10, 2010

USF Coach Fired

For the third time in five weeks, a high-profile college football coach lost his job after being accused of physical or verbal abuse toward a player, even while explaining the actions as routine discipline and motivation.

The University of South Florida fired head football coach Jim Leavitt on Friday after a monthlong probe concluded he grabbed a player by the throat, slapped him, then lied about it to investigators.

That continued the disturbing trend.

On Dec. 3, University of Kansas coach Mark Mangino was forced to resign after complaints of abuse surfaced from former and current players, including one who said he was forced to crawl across searing-hot artificial turf after failing to weigh in, leaving him with blisters and a patch of missing skin.

On Dec. 30, Texas Tech University coach Mike Leach was fired after being accused of mistreating a player with a concussion, forcing him to remain in a darkened shed as a form of punishment.

"I have never seen anything like this, ever," Teaff said. "I'm baffled. I don't even know how to describe what is happening here."

For the full article, please click the following link:

PA/DE: Many missed horrors of Dr. Earl Bradley's alleged sex abuse

Excerpt from

By Chris Barrish

January 10, 2010

Despite suspicions, no action was taken

Pediatrician Earl Bradley's strange behavior, especially with the young girls he treated, became known in recent years to many medical professionals, police and prosecutors.

At Beebe Medical Center in Lewes, administrators knew police had investigated him in 2005.

Doctors who worked with him were told by parents of Bradley's former patients that he forced reluctant girls to undress, performed long vaginal exams and took girls alone to get treats. One doctor didn't mince words with police, calling Bradley a pedophile.

Workers in the Lewes and Milford offices of his BayBees Pediatrics knew he kissed, hugged and cuddled girls. An office manager said Bradley took antidepressants from the office and told police she wrote a letter about his problems to the Medical Society of Delaware.

Police had tried since at least 2005 to build a criminal case against Bradley. They documented his questionable behavior and reputation in reports that were not made public until last week about Bradley, 56, who was charged in December with raping nine girls since August -- eight of whom he videotaped. Authorities said there could be 100 victims.

As allegations piled up over nearly five years, though, unaware parents kept sending their girls and boys to his one-man, Disney-themed medical practice, which drew patients from nearby resorts and distant farming towns.

Yet no one in the medical or law enforcement communities did what Delaware law mandates -- put their observations and suspicions in writing to the Delaware Board of Medical Practice, which investigates physician misconduct. Failure to report such behavior, which the law deems an "affirmative duty," can bring a fine of $250 to $5,000.

If even one had followed the law, the 16-member board's medical professionals and lay persons would have had to investigate, and if warranted, discipline him publicly.

Though police said officers questioned Bradley in 2005 about kissing a toddler, he grew bolder and his alleged crimes, many of which he filmed, became brutal.


After his arrest, police searched his office and said they found haunting videotapes of rapes against eight girls on a computer flash drive -- all since August.

In one, he had intercourse with a girl between 2 and 3 who was naked from the waist down, police said. In another, he forced a girl 3 to 6 months old to perform oral sex while the baby "screams and resists.''

For the full article, please click the following link:

US study says smacking kids helps them

Excerpt from Digital

Smacking leads to happier kids, according to a new US study. Ironically, it took this long to find enough people who hadn’t been smacked to do the study. Now, a US study says that smacking into adolescence actually helps.

January 3, 2010

Prof. Marjorie Gunnoe, of Calvin University, Grand Rapids, Michigan, did a study of 2600 people, including about 25% who’d never received physical chastisement. The press coverage of this is sparse, and it looks like there’s a paper in the works, which has reduced the output in the releases, but Prof. Gunnoe has stated that the data from her study simply doesn’t support the no-smack concept.
Her research states that children smacked up to the age of six were likely to do better, in fact, at school, and more likely to do volunteer work, want go to university, and other signs of higher participatory involvements.
Gunnoe isn’t saying smacking is an answer. She considers it a “dangerous tool”, which may indicate she started her research with more than a few reservations of her own. She also said that it’s not appropriate for all situations.

To read the full article, please click the following link:

Friday, January 8, 2010


Forwarded message from Ari Ne'eman of ASAN:


In the past, we've written to you about advocacy issues relating to the rights of adults and youth on the autism spectrum. Our voices have made a difference on all manner of policy concerns and have sent a clear message that those who seek to deprive Autistic people of any age of their rights will have our community to answer to. Now we'd like to ask you to help us take action to help protect an 11-year old Autistic boy in Arkansas named Zakhqurey Price, currently being charged with felony assault after fighting back when two staff members restrained him in response to behavioral challenges. The school has ignored repeated efforts from Zakh's grandmother over the course of the last five months to obtain needed IEP supports to improve his educational options and manage his behavioral difficulties.

According to the suspension notice, the restraint was in response to Zakh destroying school property - something beyond the scope of what would be allowed under recently introduced federal civil rights legislation around restraint and seclusion in schools. Disability advocates, including ASAN, are fighting to pass this crucial legislation that would broaden the protections available to students like Zakh as well as those with other disabilities and with no disability at all. We have asked for your help in passing this important legislation, and together we can succeed in bringing proposed civil rights protections into law - but not in time to help Zakh. That is why we need you to take action now. Find out how below:

School Principal:

Pam Siebenmorgan (One of the charging parties in Zakh's felony hearing - polite but firm calls and e-mails encouraging her to drop the charges would be helpful)
Phone: 479-646-0834

School Superintendent:

Dr. Benny Gooden (The Superintendent runs the entire school district - polite but firm calls and e-mails communicating how this situation is damaging Fort Smith Public Schools' reputation would be helpful as well)
School Board Office: 1-479-785-2501 Ext. 1201
We recommend that you both e-mail and call if you can. If necessary, e-mail is the preferable option. If you would like your e-mails to be passed along to Zakh's grandmother, please bcc: Please stress the importance of Fort Smith Public Schools taking the following steps:
-Drop the charges against Zakhqurey Price

-Work with his grandmother to put in place an IEP that will fulfill Zakh's right for a Free and Appropriate Public Education in theLeast Restrictive Environment

-Improve training for school personnel to prevent future such incidents and to ensure that students on the autism spectrum as well as with other disabilities are included, supported and educated in Fort Smith Public Schools.

If Zakh is declared incompetent as part of the hearing scheduled for January 12th, state law requires that he be placed into a mental hospital for at least 30 days. Carole's grandmother fears that, due to the negative repercussions of being taken out of the community and being forced into an institutional setting, Zakh may lose skills in such an environment and not be returned to her indefinitely. That is why we need you to act now. Please distribute and repost this action alert. Thank you for your time and your advocacy, and as always, Nothing About Us, Without Us!


Ari Ne'eman
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network
(202) 596-1056