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Man forced to publicly admit to bullying those with disabilities

In our Saint Louis Social Security disability law blog, we have said before that a disability isn’t something a person is but something that they have. This differentiation isn’t always that easy for other people to see. A disability such as epilepsy, cerebral palsy, paralysis or even dementia is often visible to the public.

Each of the disabilities mentioned above are impairments that one mother and wife is very familiar with. Her husband developed dementia, her son was paralyzed and one adult, adopted child was diagnosed with cerebral palsy while the other suffered from epilepsy. The disabilities were something that she said her neighbor targeted, and also why some that knew him felt a recent punishment was so fitting.

What was the crime and how did it help serve justice, as one neighbor described it? The man was accused of bullying his neighbors over a span of 15 years, including this family and others. When the case was brought to court, it ended with him entering a plea of no contest to disorderly conduct. This wasn’t the first time that he was convicted of a crime relating to the harassment of his neighbors, and the judge likely had that information available when she sentenced him.

Not only was the man charged with 15 days in jail, seven months probation and 100 community service hours, but he was also required to hold a sign for five hours at a public location on a Sunday. The last part is what was considered controversial, drawing national attention to the case.

The message was powerful. The man couldn’t hide the sign from the public, opening him up to comments and stares of those who walked by. The sign read “I AM A BULLY! I pick on children that are disabled, and I am intolerant of those that are different from myself. My actions do not reflect an appreciation for the diverse South Euclid community that I live in.”

Source: cleveland.com, “Accused bully says judge who sentenced him to hold sign in public ‘destroyed’ his life,” Adam Ferrise, April 13, 2014

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Alan E. DeWoskin, P.C.
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