International Disability Rights News Service
Your quick, once-a-day look at disability rights, self-determination
and the movement toward full community inclusion around the world.

Thursday, March 18, 2004
Year V, Edition 897

Today's front page features 8 news and information items, each preceded by a number (#) symbol.
Click on the"Below the Fold" link at the bottom of this page for 35 more news items.

"My son is not a piece of furniture. He is a human."

--Claudio Trujillo, who is suing his condominium association for discrimination after they required his 9-year-old son, Jaime, to use the a back entrance to the 12-story building because of concerns his wheelchair might damage the front doors (Third story)



ADAPT Marchers In DC Demanding End To "Stolen Lives"

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 18, 2004

WASHINGTON, DC--Hundreds of disability rights activists from ADAPT are meeting in the nation's capital March 20-25 to draw attention to changes needed in how Medicaid pays for long-term care supports.

The demonstrators want Senate Finance Committee Chair Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Democrat Max Baucus (D-Montana) to hold hearings on S. 971, otherwise known as MiCASSA, the Medicaid Community-Based Attendant Services and Supports Act, and S.1394, the Money Follows the Person Act.

MiCASSA would change the bias within Medicaid that currently gives nearly 75 percent of long-term care funds to nursing homes and other institutions rather than in-home supports. The measure was first introduced into Congress by House Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997 and has been reintroduced nearly every year since.

The Money Follows the Person Act would give money to states to help transition people from institutions to community-based supports. It was introduced into the Senate last July.

In a media statement, ADAPT organizer Bob Kafka said that Congress and the President are allowing too many Americans to be "denied the freedom we say we are fighting for around the world because those people are forced into nursing homes and other institutions".

Many of the advocates involved in the campaign are people who have "been freed from institutional settings to enjoy typical lives in the community," the statement said.

S. 971: "Medicaid Community-Based Attendant Services and Supports Act" (Association of University Centers on Disabilities)
S.1394: "Money Follows The Person Act of 2003" (Association of University Centers on Disabilities)
ADAPT (American Disabled For Attendant Programs Today)



Earl Washington's Attorney Calls For Prosecutor To Step Down

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 18, 2004

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA--The state prosecutor heading up the investigation into the 1982 rape and murder of Rebecca Lynn Williams has decided to withdraw from the case and hand it over to a deputy in his office.

Albemarle County's Commonwealth's Attorney James Camblos III announced Wednesday that he would step down.

Documents unsealed earlier this month showed that Camblos once defended Kenneth Tinsley, who is considered a prime suspect in Williams' stabbing death. Lab tests on evidence found at the murder scene reportedly point to Tinsley, a convicted rapist.

The documents were opened as part of a civil suit filed on behalf of Earl Washington Jr., who is suing investigators involved in the Williams case. Washington, who reportedly has mental retardation, spent 18 years behind bars after being convicted of raping and murdering Williams. He was pardoned and released three years ago.

Washington's attorney, Robert Hall, called Camblos' position a conflict of interest and demanded he be removed from the current investigation.

Camblos still considers Washington a suspect in the case.

"I can't exclude him -- he confessed!" Camblos said of Washington.

Washington did confess to the crime in 1983, but his defense attorneys later said investigators forced the then 21-year-old to confess. They also pointed out that in Washington's confession, he did not accurately identify the victim's race, that he claimed he stabbed the woman twice, and said he was alone when he killed her.

Williams was actually stabbed 38 times -- in front of her two children.

Washington was sentenced to die for the crime, and at one point in 1994 came within nine days of a scheduled execution.

In the fall of 2000, tests done on DNA found at the crime scene cleared Washington and implicated Tinsley.

Washington was pardoned by Governor Jim Gilmore and released from prison on February 12, 2001.

He now lives with his wife in Virginia Beach, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

"Prosecutor steps down from rape, murder case" (Times-Dispatch)
"Earl Washington, Jr" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)



Condo Association Told Boy To Use Back Door Only, Suit Claims

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 18, 2004

GLENVIEW, ILLINOIS--Nine-year-old Jaime Trujillo and his parents are suing a condominium association in this north Chicago suburb, claiming it discriminates against the boy by keeping him from bringing his wheelchair through the building's front doors.

Claudio and Luz Trujillo, along with their son, filed the suit Monday in U.S. District Court against the Triumvera Tower Condominium Association. The suit accuses the association's Board of Directors and Board President of violating Jaime's rights under 1998 amendments to the federal Fair Housing Act.

According to a statement from Access Living, which is providing legal representation for the Trujillos, the family was told before they moved into the condominium last September, that condo policy does not allow furniture, strollers or wheelchairs to enter through the front entrance because they might damage the doors. The Trujillos said that they did not openly protest the rule at first for fear of being denied a home.

The statement explained that the family tried to follow the policy, which directed them to use a rear entrance, until they found the route was barely wide enough for Jaime's wheelchair. The statement also noted that the family objected to the fact that their son was being sent to the back entrance because of his disabilities, and compared their situation to pre-Civil Rights era policies that required African Americans to sit at the back of buses.

The Trujillos claim they decided to use the front entrance, with the hopes that board members and other residents would see that Jaime's wheelchair does not cause damage to doors. This was met, however, with a letter from the association directing them again to use the rear entrance. On another occasion, the Board president allegedly ordered a building maintenance worker to physically block the front door to keep Jaime and his nurse from entering, then threatened to fine the Trujillos $50 each time the boy came through the front entrance.

"My son is not a piece of furniture. He is a human," Claudio Trujillo told the Chicago Tribune. "He is entitled to every right."

"I have never felt so discriminated," Mr. Trujillo said. "You cannot imagine the feeling inside ourselves, especially since it's our son. He is our precious treasure."

The suit seeks a change in the policy, along with unspecified monetary damages for the family's pain, suffering and humiliation.

Access Living



Son Catches Mom's Abuser On Video

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 18, 2004

SINGAPORE--Hidden video cameras, installed by a safety-minded son, captured the images of a man sexually assaulting his 59-year-old mother, who has mental disabilities.

The man who committed the crime -- the woman's own uncle -- was sentenced Tuesday to two years in jail, according to the Straits Times.

The son, who was not named in news accounts in order to protect his mother's privacy, said he had installed video surveillance equipment in the bedrooms and living room of their flat in late 2002. After he smelled an unfamiliar cologne in his mother's bedroom room a few months later, he viewed recordings from the video cameras and was shocked and revolted to find images of his great-uncle forcing his mother to perform oral sex on him.

The son turned the video tapes over to police, who arrested his 65-year-old great-uncle.

During his trial, the great-uncle -- a retired police officer -- did not deny the actions recorded on the tapes, but tried to convince the court that the sexual relationship with his niece was consensual. The judge called that a "sham defense" and said the man "acted out of lust, not love."

The victim, who reportedly has schizophrenia and mental retardation, testified that her uncle had convinced her that oral sex would make her teeth grow back so she could eat the kinds of food she enjoyed.

The newspaper noted that she has been given sedatives to help her deal with stress and trauma since the incidents.

The 38-year-old son explained that their entire home has been tainted by the events, and that he plans to move his mother with him to another flat.

"I am going to have a video camera in my home for as long as my mother lives, for her protection," he said. "We cannot be there 24 hours a day."



Unimpressed With Route To Impressionists' Gallery

March 18, 2004

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND--The following three paragraphs are excerpts from a story by Ed Guiton from Thursday's Guardian Unlimited:

I recently went to an art gallery in my home town of Sheffield to see some impressionist paintings. Normally, after this sort of opening, you would expect a critical account of the exhibition, but not this time; I'm going to concentrate on the journey.

Being paralysed, I travel everywhere in a wheelchair. On this occasion my brother was pushing.

The art gallery occupies the top floor of the central library building. The first obstacle was apparent immediately -- six steep steps up to the heavy wooden doors.

Entire article:
"Life goes on" (Guardian Unlimited),3604,1172015,00.html



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# EXPRESS EXTRA!!! From the Inclusion Daily Express Archives -- Four years ago:


ADA Award Reduced For Chuck E. Cheese Pizza

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 16, 2000

MADISON, WISCONSIN -- In 1997, Chuck E. Cheese restaurant district manager Donald Creasy fired Donald Perkl from his janitorial job at a Madison franchise, explaining that the pizza chain did not want "mentally retarded" people working for it. The restaurant manager, a general manager, and two other employees resigned in protest.

Last November, a U.S. District Court jury determined that the restaurant had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, and ordered it to pay $70,000 in compensatory damages to Perkl for emotional distress. The jury also ordered the company to pay $13 million in punitive damages, the highest amount levied against an employer under the 1990 anti-discrimination law.

On Tuesday, Judge Magistrate Stephen Crocker reduced the entire damages to $300,000, which is the limit set by federal law. In doing so, Crocker kept the $70,000 compensatory amount in place. In addition, he directed the company to pay for most of Perkl's legal expenses and to hire him back.

Perkl, who communicates with pictures and signs, has repeatedly refused the company's offers for a job since the initial firing. In November, he was working three other jobs.

Details on the original November 6, 1999 ruling are still available on line from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:


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