Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Judge Rotenberg Center Staffer Charged with Rape at Center

When an organization sees nothing wrong with routinely torturing and otherwise abusing the most vulnerable people in our society, it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone to see news reports like this:

Norton - Norton police arrested a staff member of the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center on Shelley Road Tuesday, April 1 on charges of rape and indecent assault and battery.

Police said Elliston Livingstone, 24, of Providence R.I., was charged with one count of rape and one count of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14, for an incident that occurred at the center on March 30.




  • This place makes me so angry. I wish I was able to get hired there and place a hidden camera on me so as to be able to expose them from the inside. Someone needs to do that (similar to what PETA does).

    By Anonymous CS, at 10:07 AM  

  • I hope I'm not the only one who is absolutely fuming over the fact that one of the victims had to be another staffer in order for the story to ever see the light of day.

    By Blogger dkmnow, at 10:45 AM  

  • It seems strange that he would assault the staff when there are so many other and less powerful inmates available for predation. Are they going to check to see if the inmates have been molested?

    By Blogger Alyric, at 11:59 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Ed, at 12:09 PM  

  • Sorry I missed something in the article.

    By Blogger Ed, at 12:16 PM  

  • "Massachusetts lawmakers -- WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO SHUT THIS HELLHOLE DOWN?!"

    I ask the same question.
    And I am a constituent and Massachusetts taxpayer.

    The truth of the matter is that its operator, Matthew Israel, has friends in the right places in the legislature and the judiciary.

    The last attempt to shut JRC down via legislation, IIRC, was stopped by a single spoiler vote in committee by Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez, who has a nephew at JRC.

    A former commissioner of the state Dept. of Mental Retardation (the state agency charged with providing services for those with MR and developmental disabilities including autism spectrum conditions) attempted to shut JRC down in the 1990s, IIRC, and Israel found the right friends within the judiciary to win litigation against DMR. The commissioner's efforts ultimately cost him his job.

    Every time there is a judicial or legislative hearing about JRC, Israel mobilizes a crowd of parents of JRC residents to grab as much testimony time as they can to testify in favor of keeping it in operation.

    Israel can get them to ask "how high?" and jump when he says "jump" because he can threaten them that if JRC is shut down, their violent, unmanageable-except-through-electric-shock children will be dumped on their doorsteps with no further support.

    A majority of JRC's students these days are outplacements from states other than Massachusetts. Some states are moving to withdraw their students from JRC. New York was one of them, under Eliot Spitzer's tenure as attorney general and then governor; we can only hope that David Paterson will continue that effort.

    Washington, DC has only 7 students there but what is happening there may be the key to forward motion: an attorney there has stepped in to help find appropriate new placements for the students who would be withdrawn from JRC. That course of action removes the sword-of-Damocles with which Israel can control the parents.

    By Blogger Phil Schwarz, at 2:42 PM  

  • And yes -- I agree with dkmnow: it is highly probable, and utterly scandalous, that this story would never have been published had the attack been on a resident, rather than on a staffer capable of reporting the crime to the authorities.

    By Blogger Phil Schwarz, at 2:45 PM  

  • Israel plays the "too severe" card to keep the damn place open. He did that the last time when there was a story in the media about it. And some bloggers who are parents of autistic children (you know who I'm talking about) supported him.

    By Blogger Joseph, at 6:29 PM  

  • This is utterly horrifying. I can make no sense of this center, and the abuses that occur there--most with the state's approval. What really threw me over the edge, was reading letters from parents on their website. Unbelievable.

    By Blogger S.L., at 12:53 AM  

  • Having worked in an "institution for intellectually disabled" in Australia (amongst who were some who were autistic), this is one of the reasons I prefered to socialise with the residents not the staff! The staff member is lucky anyone believed them,when I was sexually harrassed it was in front of the charge nurse who did nothing except smile.

    You can bet residents are being abused, and possibly also staff as well. They need to interview each of the staff separately (ater assuring them that nothing they say will get back to their boss) and ask them, some of the young inexperienced ones like i was at the time don't know who to report resident abuse to, especially if the abuse is by their bosses).

    By Blogger simonbear7, at 1:18 AM  

  • Nice post, lacking in facts though. An accusation is an accusation, not a fact. I know it's a tough concept for those with closed minds to grasp, but innocent until proven guilty is how we roll here in the US. Either way, I fail to see the relevance of this to your objections with the place. I'm glad JRC makes you angry and I'm sure blogging amongst yourselves incessantly will make a huge difference. :)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:32 PM  

  • Don't worry, "Anonymous," I'll be sure to write about any convictions that may occur, too.

    As for bloggers being able to make a difference, well, you wouldn't have taken a break from shocking the kiddies to come here and comment if you weren't afraid of just that, now would you?

    By Blogger abfh, at 7:49 PM  

  • If you shut this place down, where do send the kids? Is there anyplace safe for kids who can't talk?

    Methyl B-12 for everyone makes a lot more sense. At least with that, the kids have a chance.

    By Blogger Foresam, at 10:33 PM  

  • Ms. Bitch,

    I'm an autistic adult and I have an autistic civil rights horror story all my own, unrelated to this posting. I'm user Stranded Wind over at DailyKos, I found you by searching there, and I just shot you a note at your listed email address from a strandedwind.org address. I'd very much like to hear from you ...

    Iowa Boy

    By Blogger Iowa Boy, at 3:15 AM  

  • Anonymous, for all his/her nastiness, is absolutely right that an accusation doesn't necessarily mean it happened.

    I'll tell ya something, though. Given the horrific nature of things PROVEN to be true in the past it would not surprise me for one second. People who have sadistic tendencies do stuff like that.

    The place should have been shut down long ago. Each of the INMATES there should have a court-appointed advocate to figure out what's best for him when they close it forever. There should be *some* kind of help for the voiceless.

    I'm so glad you reported on this issue because the center just sorta dropped out of the news so far as I had seen.

    Thank you. Please DO update when those convictions come in.

    By Blogger Mrs. C, at 2:15 PM  

  • You send the kids to an actually appropriate placement, John. One that uses modern methods rather than medieval ones. Not being able to talk doesn't mean you should be subjected toteh spanish Inquisition.

    By Blogger Joeymom, at 9:31 PM  

  • I think we should all circulate this stuff just like we did with the Kathleen Seidel subpoena fiasco.....

    get it to slashdot, digg, and other sites........get the MSM's attention with it

    By OpenID athenivanidx, at 12:08 PM  

  • hey there Iowa Boy........

    I clicked on your name but couldn't get to your blog.....

    I'm sorry for what you went through...even not knowing any details, the fact that you say its a horror story makes me cringe........I have a kind of story like that of my own.......involving heavy psychiatric medications and misdiagnosis......ugh.

    abfh- hi. Keep us posted on the JRC scandal thingie.


    Ivan of athenivanidx

    By OpenID athenivanidx, at 11:41 PM  

  • I was searching NPR for the latest news in severe behavior treatment and came across this school and literally was shocked. I work in a severe behavior treatment program that is extremely ethical and successful. I can understand some aversive procedures such as dumping blocks, the use of padded time out rooms, and a stand up/sit down procedure but I don't think electroshock therapy could be considered ethical as an aversive procedure. I work with autistic children who have intense self-injury and aggression, and through a systematic behavioral approach , most easily explained by ignoring the bad and reinforcing the good, you can quickly see results. You have to take each behavior, break it down, learn how to track it and graphically represent it, and then evaluate each given intervention. As staff we have to have at least a 2:1 ration for each child and we were soft kevlar arm guards and gloves and pads and hats to protect ourselves. We learn to be very non-reactive and are able to ignore intense agggression such as biting, punching and hair pulling. We explore protective equipment options such as gloves, helmets and face shields for chlidren who have intesne self-injury. Personally I feel that there is a much better and more ethical way to work with these children, and because these methods exists, there is no reason for electroshock therapy to be an option.

    By Anonymous concerned, at 8:01 PM  

  • Some of you have no idea what you are talking about. Anyone can say anyting but it does not mean it is true. Or that it is entirely true. There is more than meets they eye. BUT- It happens all over, but because the staff are JRC staff members and the place is controversial anyway, it is a reflection of the workplace, how things are run, how people are treated?

    So it says that a person was arrested at Norton who is alleged of assault on a person around or older than 14 (assuming younger than 18). How many staff do you think are there between the ages of 14 and 17? JRC would not hire anyone who is not a HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE -who typically are 18 and over. So, did anyone think it had to do with two staff and a child belonging to that staff?

    It says NOTHING about the incident happening to a STUDENT or ON THE GROUNDS OF NORTON or OTHER JRC PROPERTY. This STAFF was arrested while WORKING at Norton. It does not mean antyhing happened at Norton or during the shift, or on workplace grounds. It does not SAY anything OTHER THAN: a staff was arrested on the grounds of Norton and that it regarded an allegation from another staff on an alleged assault of someone over 14 but obviously not an adult(18). If the someone assaulted was the same as the individual allegedly assaulted, it simply does not say clearly- it does say another staff made the allegation.

    The problem is people hear JRC, Assault, problems, aversives, abuse, and they go nuts. C'mon, give them a break. Unless you have worked there, you have no idea and should not believe everything you read.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:04 AM  

  • Yes, my name is Valerie Anne Klaassen, and I do agree with you about shutting that damn place down. The Judge Rotenberg Center is no place for human beings at all, because that stupid place has nothing but torture, torture, torture. Let the people of MA shut that damn place down. That is why I am very, very angry myself. How would someone like it if you would be treated like this in a School like that? You would not like it, and either would I or anyone else whether you are handicapped or not. I am sick of that stupid Matthew Isreal and his staff along with that School. I hope the MA Authority shuts and closes that stupid school down. God bless you and good bye.

    Valerie Anne Klaassen

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:29 AM  

  • YOU NEED TO SHUT THE HELL UP YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT WE STAFF MEMBERS GO THROUGH not all of us are bad but those kids have no where else to go and the program ,contrary to popular belief, works these kids are very violent and if this place gets shut down who is going to take care of these kids i know that none of you are going to step up. and you can try to expose them but most of the staff arent doing anything wrong dont judge the place becouse of some sicko oh and there NOT INMATES there students

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:20 PM  

  • One of the jobs I have applied for is a MHA the Judge Rotenberg Center. I didn’t go back, just a feeling. Today after discussing their treatment with a school Vice principle. I googled JRC and was concerned about their descalation therapy methods. During the interview they discussed mild electric shock therapy for severely aggressive violent behavior, but only in extreme cases. Geesh O Pete! It seems to be a matter of course, not the exception. Check them out on Utube. The abuses the children and adults suffer is concerning. The main school in Canton is just weird. It is on the wizard of OZ theme, yellow brick road and continuous loop of the Movie starring Judy garland on a wall at the end of the hall. There are life size animatronic characters from the Movie, the Tin Man, Dorothy, the witches, Good and Bad and the Lion and scarecrow they come “alive” when you pass and reinforce the positive aspects of being in the Reward building. They say things like” I see your on the way to the reward store” where students are able to buy baubles and trinkets for the reward points they accrue. It’s over the top. My own son is Bi-polar and probably very like many of the students in the JRC. I would not ever expose him to the bedlamesq treatment that appears to be common at JRC.
    Treatment is based on B.F. Skinner’s B’Mode ideas. But, shouldn’t the people administering the shocks be qualified psychiatrists or at least grad students. Not the high-school aged kids and social dropouts and folks that would do better off with more education, that were in the interviews with me. Sadly, it seems not. It disturbs me to know that I might have taken the job if I were younger, less educated or more financially strapped than I am now.
    Rape and other abuses of power happen in social constructs. Teachers having sex with students, psychologists sleeping with their patients, Jail guards abusing their detainees. That I understand, it is horrible but a fact of power differentials. It should be monitored by the management. It is the fixation on the Land of Oz and the outlandish decore of the building along with those creepy talking statues and the looping the Wiz vid at the end of the hall. That bothers me. It’s not natural. The mentality of the caregiver drives the behavior. But, what is the underlying message. The place gives me Jim Jones vibes and So far no one has mentioned it.

    By Blogger pru, at 4:18 PM  

  • I used to work there. I knew this gentleman and was very surprised to read this. He was a good staff. It was a little scary to think you were working with someone who could do something like that.
    This is not unique to JRC though. I have also worked at other similar schools where I actually did witness abuse by staff on students.
    The only reason everyone in this blog is so outraged at this is because it happened to be at JRC.
    In defense of JRC, I have seen many students go from extreme aggressive behavior constantly all day to perfect angels.
    If you don't like it, you don't have to send your kids there. Much like the abortion issue, if you don't like abortion, don't get one, but why do you have to butt your nose into other people's business and take away a parent's right to choose the way they want their child treated?
    There are many parents that are extremely pleased with JRC and would never remove their child, but there are many others who were very dissatisfied with JRC. Guess what they can do? They can remove their kid and place them somewhere else, or if they can't do that they can cease the shock treatment.
    Sure some horrible things have happened at JRC, but if the shock treatment was not a part of the school, these things would've and will still happen, just as they do and will still happen at other schools that use only positive approaches.
    Don't let your bias get in the way of the facts. If you have a problem with the shocks, that's one thing, but this was about a staff that got arrested at a JRC house. That's got nothing to do with shock treatment.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:03 PM  

  • my name iz jeremy i am here in diz fuckin place all ya talkin bout im only able to write diz right now cuz well da staff really dont give a fuq wat im doin ive been fucked up in diz place i dont no wat wat happenz to the autstic kidz but there r kidz with anger problems here 2 n ive seen sum outragus stuff here n been involved n my own share i really do agree to get diz shit shut down i cant really voice my concerns to the public ive maid complaints off bein assulted abused i talked to the department of social services about it they came up n interviewed me wrote down my bruieses n cutz n left later that day i waz sent to the hospital due to the handz of a staff he waz suspended or wat ever i dont really give a fuck diz place iz sum bull shit so i hope u can get diz bitch shut down so no kid will ever have 2 go through wat im goin through thiz again itz true i guess diz man got tiez in the all da right places i told my mom wat happened put it like diz she want really concerened the way they got me here i feel iz outragus they az in my mom told me thiz waz job corps they were takin me on an interview so i went to the van n asked them if diz waz job corps they told me yes n now im sittin job corps if sum body iz readin diz can they call me a fuckin attoreney or sum tin help!!!!!!!

    By Anonymous jeremy roman, at 1:33 PM  

  • I was an employee of JRC and it is a big waste of tax payers money. First of most of the staff can't even speak english well. The staff are treated and spoken to with no respect. Everytime you make a minor mistake you get written up. You recieve was called a PIO or proformance improvement oppurtuinty. You can recieve a suspension for having your cell phone in your pocket, not wearing your apron, (which is company issued and part off the dress code) and forgeting you name tag. Many of the staff members have secert relationships with the students other staff members have relationships with supervisors or quality control staff as their called to avoid silly write ups. Theirs no job security one day your a case manager the next day your demoted to a mental health asisstant its crazy. They play staff members like pawns their was this idiot that worked their named Kama Thomas they used that poor guy like a pawn promoted and demoted him like a yo yo. He played right into their game.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:55 PM  

  • the staff member being spoken about had consentual sex with another staff member this took place in a bathroom at a JRC residence. Another staff member walked in on the two having sex the women was embarassed ran out and said she was raped. This happens frequently lots of staff members have sex during whats called sleep aid shifts.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:02 PM  


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:14 PM  

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