What’s wrong with this picture? **UPDATED**
Ok, not a picture, but a news article. There is so much wrong here. See if you can spot all the absurdities.
Woman arrested after disabled teen left at SeaWorld
By Barbara Liston
ORLANDO, Florida | Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:58pm EST
(Reuters) – A Miami woman on Tuesday posted bail and was released from jail following her arrest for allegedly abandoning her severely disabled 18-year-old son at SeaWorld theme park.
Rosa Pou, 44, was arrested on charges of neglecting a disabled person and resisting arrest at the theme park late Monday afternoon.
Other guests and a ride operator reported that her disabled son was left unsupervised for more than an hour, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s arrest report.
Officer Kelly Jockin wrote that the teenager, Rafael Soto, had the physical appearance of an 8-year-old and was so disabled that he could not speak or communicate in any fashion. Jockin said he found Soto playing in a sand box.
The operator of a roller coaster told Jockin that he had to stop the ride several times because the teen kept wandering into a restricted danger zone.
Jockin reported that he carried the teen to a vehicle for a ride to guest services and that he could feel Soto’s cough and chest congestion. Jockin had a video made of Soto to document the extent of his disability.
Pou subsequently was located by SeaWorld employees. Neither Pou nor her family could be reached for comment Tuesday after her release from jail. Soto was turned over to his father, Carlos Rodriguez, who also was at the park, the report said.
Pou arrived at guest services “smiling and laughing about the victim being lost,” according to the report. She refused Jockin’s request to have a paramedic examine the teen, stating “this is ridiculous.”
Pou was arrested after refusing to answer questions and resisting the officer’s attempt to handcuff her, according to the arrest report.
Some of my problems with the article …
Woman arrested after disabled teen left at SeaWorld
By Barbara Liston
ORLANDO, Florida | Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:58pm EST
(Reuters) – A Miami woman on Tuesday posted bail and was released from jail following her arrest for allegedly abandoning (here the reporter says the charge was “abandoning”) her severely disabled 18-year-old son at SeaWorld theme park.
Rosa Pou, 44, was arrested on charges of neglecting (“neglecting”? I thought it was “abandoning”) a disabled person and resisting arrest at the theme park late Monday afternoon.
Other guests and a ride operator reported that her disabled son was left unsupervised for more than an hour, (so the ride operator, a park employee, did nothing for an hour, how bad could the situation have been?) according to the Orange County Sheriff’s arrest report.
Officer Kelly Jockin wrote that the teenager, Rafael Soto, had the physical appearance of an 8-year-old and was so disabled that he could not speak or communicate in any fashion (small and no obvious communication, the reporter calls this “severely disabled”). Jockin said he found Soto playing in a sand box. (Playing in a sand box, not eating the sand, bothering others, no, just playing. What’s the problem? He’s 18, an adult.)
The operator of a roller coaster told Jockin that he had to stop the ride several times because the teen kept wandering into a restricted danger zone. (“kept wandering” so we know he is fully mobile AND the operator of that ride did not think enough call security or do anything, obviously s/he did not think the adult was “severely disabled,” neglected nor abandoned.)
Jockin reported that he carried the teen to a vehicle (“carried” the same person who “kept wandering into …” Either he can walk (ok, “wander”) or he can’t and needs to be carried) for a ride to guest services and that he could feel Soto’s cough and chest congestion. Jockin had a video made of Soto to document the extent of his disability. (Just scary. Where was Jockin’s magic hands to feel chest congestion. A video will document the “extent” of the disability?)
Pou subsequently was located by SeaWorld employees. Neither Pou nor her family could be reached for comment Tuesday after her release from jail. Soto was turned over to his father, Carlos Rodriguez, who also was at the park, the report said. (Note the “also” at the park, hence BOTH mother and father were at the park. Where is the “abandonment” and “neglect”?)
(Also note at this point, that the Miami Herald reports “Pou told deputies that she had left her son under the supervision of her daughter. The daughter told investigators that she left her brother at the playground because he refused to go with her.” Something this Reuters’ report conveniently omits.) (Thanks Christy)
Pou arrived at guest services “smiling and laughing about the victim being lost,” according to the report. She refused Jockin’s request to have a paramedic examine the teen, stating “this is ridiculous.” (Why on earth would a paramedic examine an 18 year old for no apparent reason?)
Pou was arrested after refusing to answer questions and resisting the officer’s attempt to handcuff her, (the reporter leaves out that the “resisting” charge was “resisting an officer without violence”) according to the arrest report. (So the reporter saw the arrest report. Well, was it “abandonment” or “neglect” or both?)
What would happen if a mother left a “normal” 5 year old boy in a sand box with his older sister, and the sister left him, and the kid was found and brought to the “lost and found,” or whatever, and they found the parents and re-united everyone, and the mother laughed it off knowing the kid was fine? ARREST THAT WOMAN!!!
I don’t know who is the worst here, but the Reuters’ reporter, Barbara Liston proved herself to be a fool of a reporter. All the park personnel were fools, the officer and paramedic seem to be lacking as well.
I would LOVE to have Mrs. Pou respond, anyone out there know her? And if you know the reporter, I’d love to hear her defense of this joke of a report. Feel free to email a link to either of them!
I don’t know about absurdities….but the story doesn’t make any sense at all. It is completely incomprehensible. The reporter did a sloppy job of getting the details. I truly don’t get this.
Ditto Claire. Although the tone makes me shudder.
This kind of story always smacks of the legacy of institutionalizing children who were other than normal. I see it every time I do special events work, people assuming that a disabled person ought not be on their own.
I read that the parents were foolish for leaving their son on his own if he was indeed unable to heed warning signs. If that is true then their parenting should be examined to make sure they aren’t putting their son in harm’s way.
I suspect though, that if the parents went through the trouble to retain custody of their son and bring him to a pricey amusement park, that they are probably doing okay.
Mostly it sounds like the staff and police were being presumptuous, intentionally ignorant, violating the young man’s autonomy and attempting to criminalize a normal that they can’t or won’t understand. The press doesn’t help.
Let’s see . . .
If the kid is 18, then technically does he need supervision? Once the police found out he was 18, was there still a neglect case? Once they found out he’s 18, does the mother still have to answer questions?
How can they really know the kid can’t communicate? Maybe he WON’T communicate to strangers?
Carrying a person who appears to be 8 years old, and there’s nothing here about his being unable to walk. Shoddy reporting: WHY was he carried?
Where was the father in all this? Did he show up to collect his son? If so, was he NOT arrested because he was cooperative about answering questions? If not, why aren’t they on HIS case about neglect? Shoddy reporting.
The one thing that stood out for me is that the kid is over 18. Why is the mom being arrested for neglect if the “kid” is legally an adult?
This story is horrifying. Also horrifying is that all kinds of media outlets just parroted Reuter’s craptastic reporting. Florida AP offers a little more detail and a slightly less sensational and damning presentation
Even AP fails to notice that this woman’s and her son’s rights may have been violated. No wonder she resisted arrest.
– Mom says her son got lost, there’s no evidence presented to the contrary, but she has allegedly “abandoned” him and been ARRESTED for it?
– Then son is turned over to his father who was also at the theme park — so why is mom a criminal but not dad?
– She “abandoned” Rafael but then decided to stick around the park?
– The officer made a video of Rafael to document the extent of his disability? For what purpose? Seriously, a video? Did he have to document the disability on video because it might DISAPPEAR? There is no credible reason (based on the information in this article) that the officer would have to video Rafael.
A cousin of mine has fostered/adopted several children with a wide range of disabilities (who really were abandoned), the most severe among them being a non-verbal guy with autism, intellectual disabilities, cortical blindness and a partridge in a pear tree. After a nice visit a couple of years ago they all joined us at the airport to see us off. We were having a nice little chat when I realized he had wandered off. I alerted my cousin, but she was nonchalant. “Yeah, he likes to get some time away from us and explore. He always knows to show up when it’s time to leave, though.” I figured she knew him better than I did, and sure enough, he reappeared right when our flight was called. No one has figured out how he manages such things, but he does.
This incident seen from the eyes of a disability advocate may very well read “Disabled man with youthful appearance tries to independently ride rollercoasters, gets discriminated against and detained, while his mom is arrested for being insufficiently ashamed of letting him go off on his own in public.”
That’s nuckin’ futs.
This article is making no sense at all.
Also: yay! I’m finally up to date on your blog. I’ve read all the posts now. Please keep them coming.
The update was even better than the original.
This is interesting. I am a social worker who works in South Florida (and have experience working with children with disabilities) and I did not hear about this on the news.
I see many of you asking about the woman’s child being 18 years old, and asking if the parents are responsible for this child, or if he is able to be independent due to his age. Much of this answer will depend on if he has a legal guardian or not. If the court granted his parents guardianship, he was found to be unable to care for himself. Should that be the case, he “shouldnt” be left alone… in a theme park. I say “shouldnt” because even typical children can get lost. Things happen, which at first glance look like bad parenting, when in fact its just life happening.
Being 18 years old and disabled can be complicated. Some parents fight for guardianship because they know their child cant care for themselves, or make their own decisions in terms of finances or medical decisions. I have a feeling this information will help make or break the families case.
Noting that I have been a paramedic, I am a parent of a severely disabled young lady AND I have been to court to get guardianship …
Let us assume the parents do NOT have legal guardianship (and the laws are similar to my state, which they typically are). The paramedic has absolutely medically abandoned the young man. In the paramedic’s mind, the young man needed to be medically evaluated and he was unable to give informed consent. The parents, not having guardianship have no rights or say in the young man’s medical decisions (sick, but true). Hence, the paramedic is guilty of medical abandonment. The young man was not in danger nor endangering others, and as an emancipated individual he was neither neglected nor abandoned by his parents. The messed up part of the law is that his parents, if not guardians, cannot legally neglect or abandon, anymore than they could if he was “normal.” Throwing your emancipated child out of the house, no matter his or her mental status, as long as you are not the legal guardian, is completely legal. Talking law, not ethics, morals, etc.
If, in fact, the mother was a legal guardian, she had every right to refuse medical treatment for her son, every right to leave him with his sister, and every right to not answer any questions, especially about his medical status or any other topic.
The truth is that the reporter filed such a horrendously written report, and the editor accepted it, and we don’t know anywhere near all the facts. Nor any, since there are such gross discrepancies here. Again, I’d love to hear from Mrs. Pou …
And I know this makes me Captain Asshole of the U.S.S. Jerkerprise, but why do I giggle every time I hear the words Mrs. Poo..?
@ Ken: I do too.