Secret Settlement Transparency for Dependent Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Who Are Victims of Sexual Assault
WHEREAS, there is a sexual assault epidemic among dependent adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). According to National Public Radio (NPR), individuals with I/DD are sexually assaulted at a rate seven times higher than the general population and many of these crimes go unpunished. NPR added, “[victims] are easily manipulated and will have difficulty testifying later. These crimes go mostly unrecognized, unprosecuted, and unpunished. And the abuser is free to abuse again.”
WHEREAS, this is an epidemic among a highly vulnerable population that is largely silent and incapable of self-advocacy, we need data to speak to us about the scope of the problem to inform consumers and to drive and inform policy.
WHEREAS, secret settlements seek to cover a larger issue and prevent advocates from taking on systemic reform and from holding organizations and criminals accountable for human rights violations protected by the Lanterman Act. DisabilityJustice.org found that, “Just 3% of sexual abuses involving people with developmental disabilities are ever reported.” and significantly, “Approximately 80% of women and 30% of men with developmental disabilities have been sexually assaulted – half of these women have been assaulted more than 10 times.”
Therefore, we ask that the California Democratic Party join us in asking our county state and federal representatives to consider legislation that will mandate government agencies that serve dependent individuals to file an annual report that outlines the number of settlements they have entered into and why a claim was brought forth. It would require reports to be filed dating back 10 years so that we can have historical data. Government funded monetary settlements will provide taxpayers with transparency and accountability about how their money is being spent and discourage government agencies from covering up sexual crimes against a largely silent, intellectually disabled population.
Therefore, a percentage of monetary settlements will go towards better care provider screening, research into better protocols to prevent and document incidents of sexual assault and technologies that will enable this vulnerable population to better communicate distress, and installing protective and remedial measures for intellectually disabled individuals who are at risk or victims of sexual assault in nursing homes or being cared for at home by government- employed home care providers.

Authors: Julie Neward and Marisol Rubio
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