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Entries in Cerebral Palsy (3)

Wednesday
Nov282012

Ohio Man Sentenced to One Month in Jail After Teasing Disabled Girl

Comstock/Thinkstock(CANTON, Ohio) -- An Ohio man faces one month of jail time for teasing and taunting a 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy after a video of the incident went viral.

On Nov. 27, Judge John A. Poulos of the Canton Municipal Court sentenced 43-year-old William Bailey to 29 days in jail.

The taunting occurred on Sept. 26, when Tricia Knight and her mother-in-law were waiting for her children’s bus to return from school. Knight’s three children, including 10-year-old Hope, attend Walker Elementary with Bailey’s 9-year-old son, Joseph.

What happened next was caught on an iPod camera by Knight’s mother-in-law, Marie Prince.

William Bailey “was dragging his leg and patting his arm across his chest to pick his son Joseph up,” said Knight. “I asked him to please stop doing this. ‘My daughter can see you.’ He then told his son to walk like the R-word.”

The next day Knight posted the video on her Facebook page while Prince uploaded the video they called “Bus Stop Ignorance” to YouTube. Within days, the video went viral.

The Knight family has lived next door to the Baileys for the past two years, and the incident at the bus stop, according to Knight, is the culmination of rising tensions and intimidation against her kids.

In the days that followed the taunting at the bus stop, the Knight family filed a complaint with Canton City prosecutors.

Jennifer Fitzsimmons, the chief assistant city prosecutor for this case, says in the three years she’s been in this role, she’s never seen anything like this.

“I think when we look at cases, there’s case law out there regarding people commenting and gesturing against race and religion. But when there’s nothing out there regarding disabilities, it took me a little bit longer to come to a decision.”

After Fitzsimmons reviewed the Knight family’s complaint, a police report based on a phone call from the Knight family, and the video captured by Prince, she decided to press charges.

“It was settled without Hope having to relive what she saw and how it impacted her,” said Fitzsimmons. “I think the trial could have been just as traumatic as the event itself.”

Bailey, who works as a truck driver, was charged twice. He was originally charged for aggravated menacing, a misdemeanor of the first degree. In this charge, the victim was Knight, in an incident she says took place the same day as the bus stop scene.

Bailey, she said, “was swinging a tow chain on his porch, saying he was going to choke me until I stopped twitching. I sent my kids with my mother-in-law to leave with them. My husband called the sheriff.”

In Ohio, a menacing charge is a misdemeanor fourth degree, which carries a maximum of 30 days in jail.

The second original charge, for the bus stop incident, was disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. A disorderly conduct is a minor misdemeanor and carries no jail time.

Although Bailey’s sentencing technically reflects the charges brought by his actions toward Knight, Hope’s mother, Fitzsimmons explains how the plea deal enabled the sentence to cover his actions toward Hope.

“Because the menacing misdemeanor charge was directed toward Hope’s mother, and they’re all interrelated, the judge took into account all the actions of Mr. Bailey and the entire Holcomb family,” said Fitzsimmons.

Bailey “entered a plea of ‘no contest’ to a menacing charge and to disorderly conduct,” said Fitzsimmons. His sentence will go into effect on Jan. 2.

Judge Poulos required Bailey to pay $400 in court costs as well as other fees. He was given a credit for one day which is why his sentence is 29 days and not the maximum 30.

Following the Nov. 27 hearing, Bailey’s attorney, John R. Giua, released a statement and apology on Bailey’s behalf, according to the The Repository, a newspaper for Stark County, Ohio.

“I don’t think this sentence will change things because it hasn’t so far,” said Knight.

Knight says living next door to the Baileys affects their everyday lives.

Just last summer, said Knight, 9-year-old Joseph Bailey came over to play with Knight’s children and brought over a pocket knife, threatening to “cut [Hope] up,” followed by name calling. That harassment continued into the school year.

Since the bus stop incident, Knight has spoken with the bus driver and the school’s principal. Knight now drives Hope to school every day while her other two children ride another bus to school.

Hope was born 29 weeks premature after Knight was involved in a head-on auto collision. When she was born, Hope weighed only two pounds, 12 ounces, which caused several medical problems resulting in two brain surgeries. Knight says her daughter fought for her life the first two years.

As for whether this case presents a new precedent in Ohio is another debate.

“I don’t know if it sets a precedent so much maybe as it begins a conversation between people,” said Fitzsimmons. “I think conversation starts progress, and I think if it can bring something else to light, it would be good.”

 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May102012

Marine Returns, Son With Cerebral Palsy Walks for First Time

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A North Carolina Marine got a shocking welcome home from his son, who suffers from cerebral palsy. The young boy walked to his father on his own for the first time.

When Staff Sgt. Jeremy Cooney was deployed, his 6-year-old son could not walk. What he didn’t know was that the boy learned to walk while his father was serving in Afghanistan.

The heartwarming video was posted by Cooney’s wife Melissa Cooney on WelcomeHomeBlog.com, a website for videos of surprise military homecomings.

“When my husband left on his deployment, our 6-year-old son could not walk on his own,” Melissa Cooney wrote on the site.  “He has cerebral palsy. Doctors originally said that he would never walk or do much of anything. While daddy was away, he learned to walk. For his homecoming, we set it up for Michael to walk to his daddy for the first time ever! We kept the fact that he could walk a secret the whole time his dad was gone!”

The family could not be reached to comment. Cerebral palsy is a brain disorder that causes physical and mental disabilities.

In the video, Sgt. Cooney crouches down and watches in amazement as his son walks toward him when they see each other in a gym at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune. When the boy gets within arm’s reach, Cooney scoops him up in his arms and the two share a long hug.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar302012

Alabama Teachers Caught Mistreating Special Needs Student

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(NEWTON, Ala.) -- Two Alabama teachers have been put on administrative leave after the mother of a 10-year-old student with cerebral palsy attached an audio recorder to the bottom of his wheelchair and caught them scolding him about drooling, among other things.

Jose Salinas, or as his friends and family call him, "Little Joe," is in fourth grade at Wicksburg High School, a public school in Newton, Ala.  Jose has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair at school, but is high-functioning and can walk with a walker.

His mother, Melisha Salinas, a nursing student, knew he didn't enjoy school and would come home sick many days, but he would tell her he had a "good day" every day when she asked.

A psychologist told Salinas, 31, the problem could be stress or anxiety, but she didn't know the source.

One day, a little girl in Jose's class who lives in the neighborhood told Salinas that the teacher's aide had been mean to Jose three times that day.  Salinas got Jose to confirm two of the instances, but wanted to be sure.

"I went ahead and put a recorder on his wheelchair to make sure for myself," Salinas said.

She recorded several days of class in mid-March and was "shocked" with what she heard.

"You drooled on the paper," a male's voice, allegedly that of teacher's aide Drew Faircloth, could be heard saying impatiently.  "That's disgusting."

"Keep your mouth closed and don't drool on my paper," a woman's voice said, allegedly teacher Alicia Brown.  "I do not want to touch your drool.  Do you understand that?  Obviously, you don't."

Over the three days of recordings, Salinas said Jose received about 20 minutes of actual instruction and spent almost the entire day sitting in silence with no one speaking to him.

After Salinas listened to the recordings, she took Jose out of school.  She said that when Jose is at home, she can't get him to stop talking, but in the tapes he was "dead silent."

Salinas took the recordings to the school board and the teachers were put on administrative leave.  But last Friday, the teachers were back at school.

"They were back at the school and my children were there so I got them out of school and so did several angry parents," Salinas said.  "I just lost all hope.  Nobody was listening to me."

The normally "shy and reserved" Salinas had hoped to handle the matter quietly with the school, but when the teachers were returned to their positions, she shared the recordings with her local newspaper.

By Monday, the teachers were back on paid administrative leave, and on April 9 the school board will meet to decide what further action to take.

For now, Jose is back in school and his mother said he has been doing much better.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio