HOMES OF ILL REPUTE

IF YOU'RE MENTALLY RETARDED AND LIVING IN ARIZONA, BEWARE. THIS STATE IS NOT YOUR FRIEND.

Brune took on Rose Raymond as a client after he learned Rose's grandmother and legal guardian, Matilda Osiff, wanted her to abort the fetus. "Rose was saying to everyone, `I want to have my baby and they won't let me,'" Brune says. "It was kind of like man bites dog."

Doctors say there is about a nine-in-ten chance Rose Marie Raymond's baby will be of normal intelligence. For a time, however, it seemed as if Matilda Osiff was going to get her way. But in February Brune won a temporary restraining order in Gila River Indian Community Tribal Court. Then, in early March, Osiff bowed to her granddaughter's wishes.

"Isn't the real issue, especially with Rose," says state DDD chief Lyn Rucker, "do adult people with developmental disabilities have the right equal to yours and mine to make decisions about their personal lives and their relationships?"

Few would disagree with that. But others say the real point is that Rose Raymond may have been cruelly taken advantage of, and that nobody did anything about it.

"I don't care if she was a willing participant, which I fully believe she was," argues developmental disabilities advocate Doug Bacon. "Had she not turned up pregnant, I would assume it would still be going on business as usual with Rose Marie. What I mean is that people were using her for sex. No one wants to get to the bottom of this."

A chronology of the Rose Raymond case bears him out. Police and court records indicate the Kadota home supervisors notified Rose's state case manager last December 27 of her pregnancy. But the Casa Grande Police Department apparently didn't hear about it until January 11.

That day, Casa Grande Sergeant Don Davis met with a state investigator to discuss the case. Davis noted in a police report, "According to [the state] investigation, the inner course [sic] was mutual" between Rose and the group-home employee.

The Casa Grande investigation languished for almost two months after Davis' initial report, as the locals deferred to the state's investigative team. However, the results of the state's investigation still weren't in sight by mid-February. Finally, Davis interviewed the Kadota group-home employee. He denied paternity and agreed to take a polygraph test, according to police. For undisclosed reasons, the test was never administered. The man soon left town, several sources say.

On February 21, Sergeant Davis concluded: "Due to the openness of the suspect and his willingness to aid in the investigation, and the opportunities Rose had to sex partners, it is my opinion at this time that no criminal activity occurred in this case."

Davis wrote in an April report that Rose Raymond's accounts to police had been inconsistent. He also pointed out that Rose had had "one and maybe two prior abortions. This shows she is sexually active." The tepid Casa Grande investigation didn't pass muster with Center of Law in the Public Interest attorney Tom Berning.

"Somebody has a very good lawsuit in this matter," Berning says. "The police sat on its hands on this. They finally said, `We don't know how to deal with these folks. Let's ship it over to the state.'"

The Center for Law filed a complaint against the Casa Grande police on June 20 with the federal Office of Civil Rights. The complaint alleges the department failed "to adequately investigate" the circumstances of Rose Raymond's pregnancy as a possible sexual assault.

Casa Grande Police Lieutenant Al Apger says in his department's defense, "To say we treat possible crimes against anyone lightly isn't true."

But Doug Bacon and other advocates aren't impressed.
"We owe the handicapped segment of our population a chance at a minimally decent life," Bacon says. "Minimally means you don't get sodomized by someone who's supposed to be taking care of you. Or that you don't get left in vans and die. It means you don't have staff members having sex with you. It means that the state agencies and the police try their best, that they care. Someone has to care."

end part 2 of 2

"She said something scary was going on at the home and I drove right over there," Howell recalls. "Someone told me W.A. was dead in the van."

"He was an old, mentally retarded black man, and that's pretty far down on the list," says an attorney with the Center for Law in the Public Interest.

"We're dying under the weight of all this," says the state's Developmental Disabilities Division chief.

"It was a very disheartening environment," George Coppock says. "People sitting around on floors with football helmets on."

"Human services in Arizona are about twenty years behind the times," one advocate says.

"W.A. was a special kind of guy. I mean, his big thing in life was toy trucks, Tonka trucks. He was just an old kid."

"Rose was saying to everyone, `I want to have my baby and they won't let me,'" her lawyer says.

"Had she not turned up pregnant, I would assume it would still be going on business as usual with Rose Marie . . . people were using her for sex."

George Coppock learned the state hadn't relayed its news until four days after his son was almost sodomized. And then it came by mail.

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