A New Low for Disability Rights Washington

I have recently been informed of a situation in which a lawyer from Disability Rights Washington – Susan Kas – removed a 19 year old young woman from her family home and took her to an undisclosed ‘shelter” in another city.  Disability Rights Washington  (DRW) is the federally funded Protection and Advocacy Agency for our state.

Last month, Amber O’Neil, age 19, went missing from Seattle and was thought to be with a 52 year old man she met at Seattle Central College.  Here is a link to the news media coverage of her missing and then of her being found in Oregon.  David Posey was the man she was with and he was taken into custody in Oregon by US Marshall Service on June 20, 2018 for parole violations and remains in prison.  He had previously been charged and found guilty of grand larceny, larceny of banknotes/checks (counterfeit money) and “simple assault of family members”.  He also had counterfeit money on his person when he was taken into custody on June 30, 2018.  Amber returned home to Seattle but continued to correspond with David Posey, claiming to be in love and wanting to marry him.  Amber’s father is against this relationship and this difference of opinion has caused some turmoil in the family.

David Posey had instructed Amber to contact DRW regarding her civil rights.  Amber did as she was instructed and DRW staff lawyer, Susan Kas, has personally been involved in helping Amber with her civil rights.

Susan Kas, staff lawyer with DRW

Susan Kas personally went to Amber’s home, served some papers to Amber’s father and together with some other staff removed Amber from her home and took her to an undisclosed “shelter”.  Amber appeared in court with about 5 DRW lawyers/staff on July 9, 2018 regarding issues of guardianship.  Adult Protective Services was also involved.

Disability Rights Washington cannot provide direct assistance in the following situations:

  • Criminal law
  • Family law
  • Assistance becoming the guardian of an individual with a disability
  • Out-of-state issues
  • Workers compensation
  • General medical malpractice & personal injury
  • General consumer bankruptcy issues
  • Any issue or problem not directly related to your disability
  • Assistance finding employment, housing or financial assistance
  • Assistance filling out forms & Social Security applications
  • Anything that is not the wish of the person with the disability

From the video Disability Rights Washington – Rooted in Rights

“when we choose how we advocate, we don’t advocate for what a person may say is best for a person with a disability, we really try to focus on the expressed interest which is different than what some people might call the best interest of someone.  That’s what we think everybody, regardless if you have a disability ought to be able to make important personal decisions for themselves.” (Susan Kas, Staff Attorney, Disability Rights Washington)

Issues of Guardianship – The court needs to be involved  there are legitimate concerns in this issue regarding the relationship of a vulnerable adult with man almost 3 times her age who has a history of being convicted of grand larceny, counterfeiting and abuse.  He was on parole but is currently incarcerated after taking Amber out of state – she was missing for about 30 days – when they were located in Portland on June 30, 2018.  Common sense tells us that this relationship would be cause of concern FOR ANYONE! Having a concern about this relationship is not abuse – it is true concern for the safety, well-being and protection from exploitation of a young woman who just recently graduated from High School.

DRW sees this as a violation of Amber’s civil rights.  Are they now providing her with the counseling that her father was?  Are they providing Amber with honest choices and truth about the situation?  Or, are they using her as a PAWN to in this horrendous situation of civil rights vs. common sense and caring?  This is not a game, this is the life of a young woman who was in school and had an internship for this summer that she has now lost.  She had goals of an education and a better life.  What does she have now? What will she have in the future?

Disability Rights Washington is governed by a Board of Directors, with help from our Advisory Councils. These groups are made up of people with disabilities, family members, and others who have an interest in disability rights.

This video describes the Protection and Advocacy System

A substantial portion of the Disability Rights Washington budget is federally funded.

6 comments on “A New Low for Disability Rights Washington

  1. Lauren Feaux says:

    Susan Kas, what a hero! She’s so awesome she found Amber a 90 day home and “relieved” the evil parents of guardianship. How dare they try to protect their child from felonious exploitation. Every parent’s worst nightmare is the exploitation of their child. After 90 days Amber will be free as a bird … and homeless. I didn’t realize that homelessness was a goal of our state funded organizations.

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  2. Jennie says:

    If a non-disabled 19 yr old disappeared with a shady, older character their parents would do everything they could to intervene. Young people can be exploited and introduced to all manner of dangerous behaviors such as drugs or prostitution. If the guy ends up in jail the person may naturally realize the err of their ways and return. The 52 year old is in jail (clue #1) and ironically this criminal referred her to DRW to seek liberation from her oppressors. She had a guardianship in place (clue #2) which would indicate some manner of impaired decision making had already been established. DRW apparently believes that all people, even those with decision making deficits, should be free to be exploited and abused. It’s one thing to help someone wanting to have a relationship with their same age peer but quite another to help facilitate her involvement with a known criminal. This may indicate some impaired decision making on the part of DRW. If this individual ends up harmed because of the actions taken by DRW they should be liable. It’s one thing to advise and quite another to facilitate. Is there a power differential in this relationship with this guy? Is DRW a tool in a criminal’s manipulative hold on this young woman? If she ends up being harmed by their actions, Daddy should get himself a good lawyer. DSHS routinely pays out millions not always for direct harm caused but for not protecting from harm that was present and known. DRW has an equal, more compelling obligation to protect the vulnerable from harm.

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  3. Kristina says:

    This comment only lists a small fraction of the facts. A very small portion and also doesn’t have the facts about her home life and how she felt she was treated. Every person deserves self directed care and to be treated respectfully at home even by family members. The writer should have spoken to Amber and gotten to know this nice young lady.

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    • Thank you for your reply. Yes, correct, not all the facts but enough to know that just because something is legal, it is not necessarily ethical and just.

      Also, correct that every person deserves to be treated respectfully. If Amber was having issues at home, my judgement is that a man who has a criminal history (and is currently incarcerated) may not be the best person for her to be in a relationship with. This man has also been manipulating Amber. He has been writing her with explicit instructions of what she is to write ( she is NOT to use his letters but to re-write exactly what he has written in her own handwriting so that he can get out of jail.) Amber has spent almost $400.00 this month calling him in jail.

      It sounds as if you know Amber – if so, I hope she is doing well and that she is getting some therapy and guidance to help her make decisions. I hope that she is not a pawn in the hands of DRW but that they are truly helping her to think through these processes.

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  4. Lauren Feaux says:

    Nice Kristina,

    The crux of the matter: the rights of a disabled person under full guardianship – do not include the right or freedom to be groomed for criminal enterprise, sexual exploitation, or financial exploitation. Unfortunately, DRW and DSHS, are now supporting criminals – instead of abiding by its mission of supporting people with disabilities. Way to go!

    Yes, I actually do know Amber. And I have known her for many years, and am familiar with her home life. I know for a fact that whatever “freedoms” that DRW/APS provide, Amber’s life will be vastly diminished as a result of their (your) meddling. They won’t provide a family, they won’t provide money or any lifestyle beyond abject poverty, they won’t and haven’t provide a job (oh yeah, she had a job before she was whisked away), they won’t provide friends or a community, they won’t provide counseling. 90 days. Nothing. The shortcut to homelessness. There is a process for removing guardianship, and Amber has every right to participate in that process. DRW, on the other hand, has no process. Since when do lawyers show up and take people from guardians? Kristina, if your daughter brought home a career criminal who systematically groomed her, committed crimes with her without her understanding, and subsequently wound up in jail, and spent all her money on phone calls to that prisoner… would you stand around and do nothing???? Would you say “That’s great dear, you’re a free adult, feel free to bring him home and commit crimes from the house.” I don’t know any parent of a young adult who would permit that. Now imagine your daughter is disabled, and that criminal is 30 years older, and has spent a lifetime doing similar acts. Would you expect to see a well-meaning state sponsored lawyer taking her so she could have a nice free place to live while she spends all her small funds on the criminal? Since when does a ward simply cry abuse and hope to get a free ride and new home without any standards… after a criminal has carefully choreographed complaints against the parents? The fact is, everything the criminal told her to say, she has recanted.

    To all those people who wait years and years waiting for housing from DSHS and DDA, including those with aged parents, including those who abuse their parents but are still trapped at home – here we have a case where somebody can waltz to the front of the very long line for housing, who in fact, does have parents, does have people able to care for her.

    This is a clear case of an agency with a mission – undermining guardianship at all costs, replacing a guardian because of its own narrow vision. Do we really think DSHS is going provide more than a family?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you, Lauren, for your comment. This issue is one that needs to be widely addressed.

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