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March 3, 2012

No Justice for Severely-Autistic Adult in California

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To understand this case see the Feb 24th, 2012 story: “Basic Police Work Ignored in Autistic Patient’s Suspicious Death”, written by Ryan Gabrielson of California Watch. Or watch video titled, “Manner of Death Undetermined” on You Tube.

If you’ve ever wondered what happens to severely-autistic people as they age, in the absence of adequate care and support, this is an eye-opener. The following excerpts are based on true, factual events, with a few speculations woven in.

Van Ingraham is a severely- autistic man who had his neck broken in 2006, while living at Fairview Hospital, one of California’s Developmental Center’s that serves the forgotten population of adults with severe autism and behavioral issues.

Johannes Sotingco is a caregiver on duty the morning Van’s neck is broken.

Supervisor—if you can stomach calling her a supervisor— Florens Limbong, is also on duty.


Sotingco’s shift began at 10:30 pm that night.  He works an 8hr shift, so it ends at 6:30am.

At around 1:00 am, that June 6th, 2006, Limbong recalls Van is up from bed, pants wet. It is unclear who changes him. Either Sontingco or another caregiver named Tan.

For the next 2 ½ hours, Van is reportedly up again, up and down the hallways, banging on nurse’s windows, making noises, pulling down pants, etc…His normal antics, by no fault of his own. He’s severely-autistic, remember.

Cargiver Sotingco has to “re-direct” Van several times during this 2 ½ hr period. It must have been mentally and physically exhausting. Had Sotingco been sleep deprived? Nobody in charge of investigating this case at Fairview probably has ever asked.

About 3:30am, Van is reportedly back in bed. Sontingco can finally get a break. So he thinks.  It won’t be long before Van is up again.

Around 4:20 am, Sotingco is told he needs to clean up another client’s “smeared feces” in another room.  Surely the thought of cleaning up someone else’s fecal matter, added to the internal stress saturating Sotingco’s evening.

Around the same time, Van pops up again, apparently having again urinated in his pants. Sotingco must’ve been fuming. My life is nothing but shit and piss. He starts to look at Van and the man with feces on his hands as sub-human. He is growing fed up with this job. He’s been doing it a long time. Surely, he is better than this. Screw these retards, he’s thinking (please note I say this based on media reports and years of listening to people who care for the severely-disabled. They say things like this). I’m sick of them all. Tired of the piss and shit, dressing, feeding; cutting toe nails. 

Back in Van’s room again, when nobody is looking, Sotingco orders Van to pull up his pants. He thinks about the “smeared feces” waiting for him in the other room. Damn it. I’m so sick of this. Just pull up your damn pants you idiot! He gives Van a final warning. “Get your pants on!” Van, terrified by Sontingco’s tone, freezes in fear, does not comply. Sotingco can no longer take it. Sontingco SNAPS.

Sotingco moving behind Van, grabs Van with one arm,  yanks Van by the back of his hair, with opposite arm, pushes on his back, hyperextending Van’s neck, then thrusts Van  forward, in an awkward position, forcing Van to face the ground to see where his pants are by his ankles.  “See your pants at your ankles!” Sotingco quietly yells into Van’s ear. “Pull up your pants.”  Van still doesn’t comply. Sontingco, Van’s hair clenched in his fist, begins to violently shake Van’s head back and forth. Van screams.

Sotingco takes him to ground (he uses an approved technique with a new twist), trying to quiet him.Shut up!” he tells Van. A blind man, nearby, hears the entire scenario go down. Van stops screaming. Sontingco settles into a calm, charming and covertly cruel demeanor, as if this isn’t the first time he’s had to show one of these idiots who the heck is in charge. After all, he’s not paid enough for this kind of work. It’s not his fault these imbeciles are so screwed up. It’s what life dealt them. Why can’t they do as they’re told! Sontingco is a classic abuser type. Finds work with vulnerable people. Has a dual personality. Charming, but covertly cruel. He will NEVER acknowledge the damage he does, did or will do. Not even when he’s caught and thrown into a cell for the rest of his life.

Fact: Johannes Sotingco has previously been investigated four times for his work as a caregiver at Metropolitan State Hospital.  But Fairview hired him anyway. Probably because each time, he had evaded charges of abusing disabled clients.  Sotingco appears an amazing con man who finds places to hide and SURROUNDS himself with submissive, sub-intellectual appointed and hired co-workers, who don’t know how to spot a guy like Sontingco or bring this piece of work to justice.

So when VAN SCREAMS. Limbong had run in. She finds Sotingco standing over Van. She doesn’t think much of it, because she’s not the thinking type. She blows it off, probably goes back to texting, chatting, checking her Facebook, or answering personal emails.
A little bit later, Sotingco, pretty sure he’s really hurt Van now, reports Van fell and--LATER--will pretend that's how he broke neck.  Sotingco blames (abusers always blame) Van’s alleged fall on his behavior of wetting self and running around, though there is no evidence of urine on floor, and NO EXTERNAL INJURIES showing a fall likely occurred the morning of neck being broken.

Despite the fact Van can’t move his neck isn’t drinking or walking, which is way off Van’s baseline behavior, Sotingco tries to cover his ass and phones in Van’s injury as “injury of unknown origin”. Limbong doesn’t dispute this. She’s submissive type, in a world of her own, waiting for the next paycheck to roll in, as the next patient rolls out, in a body bag.  The kind of person the Sotingco's of the world rely on so things are largely ignored.

Van in a state nobody can deny at this point, is taken to hospital where neck X-rays show he has suffered an injury unlikely caused by a fall. So what happened then?
MRI of cervical spine shows: “dislocation of C5 on C6 with bilateral --facet block, severe central stenosis and cord compressions through C4 through C6, disruption of ligamentum nuchae in C6-C7, prevertebral and epidural hematoma underlying congenital spinal stenosis.”

A doctor says this TYPE of injury occurs when the head is pushed forward and the body was pushed back with a force great enough to dislocate the vertebrae. Dr. Dobkin said it was not likely that the injury was caused by a fall or self inflicted due to the severity of the dislocation.

There is also NO evidence of congenital force or osteoporosis, which could explain a fall causing such injury to neck.

There IS however types of fracture dislocations seen on Van’s tests that are usually caused when the head is bent forward and the back is compressed. “Put on your pants Van!” “See them at your ankles.”  Those kinds of things usually occur when someone is hit.

The lead investigator on Fairview’s side, was a woman named Theresa DePue, a registered nurse, who has never previously investigated a suspicious death.

Sotingco and Limbong insist Van must have fallen. Blame. Blame. Blame. Anything but ourselves.

Investigators from Fairview, those brilliant minds, didn’t swab anything for fingerprints or for any DNA evidence. They did no basic police work on the scene.

Three medical experts said the 50-year-old autistic patient, Van Ingraham, likely had
been killed.

NO arrests have been made, though the state paid Van Ingraham’s brother $800,000 in a wrongful death suit. 

Johannes Sotingco has FOUR prior suspected abuse of client reports filed against him. Johannes Sotingco acknowledged that he was with Van at the time when Van screamed; he acknowledged altering records within 48 hours of the injury. Still, he's never been arrested.

WHERE IS THE JUSTICE?  Arrest Sotingco.

Meanwhile, FORGET stupid privacy laws. If my autistic son were in a state institution or group home, I would WANT (or install) hidden surveillance in every room he was in. In fact, I submit that should be a NEW law on the books. MANDATORY 24 -hour survilleance cameras in every room of every state institution where vulnerable disabled persons are. The videos would be carefully protected, so they don't fall into hands of people who don't need to see them. They should be there for cases like this, when nobody was there to protect Van Ingraham. God bless Larry Ingraham, a retired San Diego Police Officer. What a great man. What an incredible, loving brother. What an inspirational advocate for severely-autistic adults.

May God restore all the years the locusts have eaten, wash away all the tears that flow from a heart so broken. May God bless and prosper Larry Ingraham and his family and bring to justice those who have harmed his sweet brother.

Kim Oakley, mother of severely-autistic  son.

Here's latest fiasco. Someone should be INVESTIGATING the employees at Ca. Dept. of Health who are too lazy, incompetent and unfit for their fancy titled positions, to solve crimes committed against vulnerable disabled adults hidden away in institutions. This is a NATIONAL DISGRACE. CALIFORNIA has failed the disabled population over and over and over again. The etiology of this is BAD people in key positions that aren't doing their F%^$#@#job. 
 http://cironline.org/reports/beating-developmental-center-goes-unpunished-after-years-delays-5600

Historical Background of how some caregivers actually BRAG on line about how they "beat retards"...A Disabled Boy's Death, and a System in Disarray - New York Times
Jun 5, 2011 ... By DANNY HAKIM ... June 9, 2011) ... abuse of residents within a span of two and a half months;  another employee bragged on Facebook about “beating retards.” ...
Lesson:
Always Check the Facebooks of people hired to work with disabled.
www.nytimes.com/.../boys-death-highlights-crisis-in-homes-for-disabled.html

17 comments:

Autism Reality NB said...

Very sad story Kim. Thank you for highlighting this and providing the link to the California Watch investigative report. I agree with you about the need for surveillance in all areas of facilities providing care to adults with severe autism and others with serious communication deficits. I have commented on the story and your commentary on it and provided a link to a Newsday account from 2007 of the aggravated assaults by attendants on a Uniondale New York severely autistic woman discovered because of surveillance cameras.

http://autisminnb.blogspot.com/2012/03/justice-severe-adult-autism-reality-in.html

Thank you once again for the great efforts you make in raising awareness of severe autism issues including adult autism issues. Thee aren't many speaking honestly on these issues as you do.

larryoflamesa said...

Kim - Thank you for your words about Van's story, and God bless you! You do know you have an angel in your midst in your son, right? My angel was taken, but not in vain. Since Van's neck was broken, many changes in the system have begun to occur benefiting the disabled....and I have been blessed with a much closer connection with our wonderful Lord. What no one knows is, that the night Van finally passed away, it was magical. Van had been lying there for five days, unable to move, scared, and suffering. So I began praying my most heart felt prayer..."Dear Lord, please take my brother this moment..." That was at 11:36 P.M. June 11th. The instant I said this, Van exhaled, and did not inhale again. Then, like magic, I felt something ....someone....come past me, to my brother, and take him, his spirit, away from his distorted, twisted little body.....and it was amazing. I had been blessed with proof of our wonderful Lord, even though we are supposed to live in faith. I experienced God that night, thanks to my brother Van, and I knew I had been in the presence of an angel in Van. You are in the presence of an angel as well, Kim... always remember that...
The battle continues with the state and trying to get justice. I testified at a senate hearing a few weeks back on how the state does not investigate abuse and deaths of the disabled. If you want to read more, just type in your browser "larry Ingraham" or Van Ingraham" and you'll get all the web sites.... May God keep his hands on your shoulders..larry Ingraham

Kim Oakley said...

My heart melts at your brother's story. Thank you for your encouragement even in the midst of your very powerful struggle. What is meant for evil God can turn for good. He will bring justice to your case. There are things hidden that will be revealed. Blessing and hugs and all our prayers for to you and your family. You are the best brother Van could ever have. I will remember your words that angels are with us because it is indeed hard to live by faith.

Anonymous said...

What the institution employee did was wrong.
However the employee did not "kill" Van Ingraham.
According to the news reports, Mr Ingraham's brother gave permission for life support to be withdrawn and that is what caused Van to die.
Something to remember is Van Ingraham had been in the institution for decades because his family could not or would not care for him.
If the institution was such a bad place, no loving family would have left their son/brother there.
The news report makes it sound like the brother saw a chance for a monetary windfall.
Persons who work in those type of institutions are saints--they are doing what parents and siblings will not do for their own.
Do not crucify all of the employees because of the actions of one individual.
Van's brother could have taken Van out of there and home with him anytime.
Even Mrs Oakley admits she had her son in a group home for many years as her family was falling apart because of the autistic son.

Anonymous said...

I followed the link at the end of your article to the one from the NYT about the 13 year old asphyxiated in the institution's van by a callous worker.
The story is horrifying and you have to wonder about parents who act so clueless afterwards. The parents of Jonathan placed him in the institution because THEY could not handle his behavior. What did they think the workers were going to do other than use force in an attempt to make him behave?
I do not agree that the employees in these institutions are saints, I think they are the only people that can be engaged to "look after" a very difficult group.
I suspect the parents of children like Jonathan and Van before him, knew exactly what they were putting their children into and saw it as their only option.
Our neighbor has a child with autism so I personally have a different picture than is painted in the stories here. Stevie, our neighbor's child, exhibits some "strange" behavior at times and seems young for his age but nothing so extreme that his parents would need to put him in an institution.
I remember a family from my home town who had an adult son living with them. I would see them at church, the son was probably my father's age or a little older. My Dad told me he had been injured in the 2nd world war and had a metal plate in his head. He was like a very big little kid and loved to sing at church.
I wonder what happened to him. I would hate to think he ended up at an institution but he probably did after his parents passed away.

armand pennyfeather said...

terribly sad story
there is a california report story from february 2012 which says the man had been living at this place since he was a little boy and his brother is quoted as saying their mother found bite marks on the boy's penis when he was 9 years old, also broken bones, a black eye, abrasions. the brother is quoted as saying he believed it was it was "just natural occurrences, accidents."
only a consenting adult should ever have bite marks on his genitals. what were these parents and older siblings thinking, leaving the boy in a place like that?

Kim Oakley said...

Armand Pennyfeather (not your real name of course). You are simply beyond ignorant. It's people like you that come onto these blogs only to pass by and leave a drive by low level thinking comment that make the world worse. People like you think you're above it all and know it all by extrapolating bits and pieces of information about a situation that is far outta your scope of knowledge and expertise. Do the world a favor and bathe in holy water to remove whatever demons are possessing you to be such a low class cowardly scumbag who has zero insight into the lives of people who live with severe autism. You make me sick, but that's probably what gets you off.

w ford said...

I was once in a mental hospital part of Kaisers permenente.over near china town la and the kind of people that workrd there scared me I was thirsty at about 3am and left my small prison cell like room and over heared a nurse and a doctor talking this doctor wad from Russia and he was talking about how that country would put people who complained about social issue in mental hospital and other wiered tales from his birth country I was in that awful place e four days and never want go back

Christine CBcrafts Ann said...

Kim Oakley, I read your blog very sad. Meltheart and tear. Thanks for stare us

larryoflamesa, sorry heard about lose your brother Van. Meltheart and tear. He always watch you and your family over and he Angel with you. Hugs and bless you and your family

Laurence Ingraham said...


Hey Kim.....each day I think about Van, I think about you, and how brave you have been in taking on ignorance about our situations.....I love ya, Kim....you are one of my few heroes...larry Ingraham

Laurence Ingraham said...

Each time I think about my brother Van, I think of you Kim.....so it's quite often. Thank you, Kim, for taking on ignorance and callousness that some live by. I love you, Kim...you are one of my few heroes.....larry Ingraham

Laurence Ingraham said...

FYI....I just was told that the 8/05/2012 "Anonymous" person who wrote negatively about Van's case and I not doing more for Van, as well as in essence stating I killed Van then profited from his death, is none other than the psche tech union itself, who represented the suspect... what a surprise....and what morons :)

Laurence Ingraham said...

FYI....I just was told that the 8/05/2012 "Anonymous" person who wrote negatively about Van's case and I not doing more for Van, as well as in essence stating I killed Van then profited from his death, is none other than the psche tech union itself, who represented the suspect... what a surprise....and what morons :)

Kim Oakley said...

Larry Ingraham, So glad you updated me. Well well well. No surprise there, right? These evil people try to plant LIES, engage in subterfuge, villify innocent parties all the time. It's how they roll. Truly are the most disgusting humans alive. They make the Meth dealers, coke heads, hop heads and town drunks look like Boy Scouts. I learned a very hard lessson when my autistic son was abused. I learned that what society thinks are the most heinous criminals isn't what we've been told because evil really does pose as an angel of "light." Those who are most evil, the most corrup are always those who hide behind masks of sanity. Who plead with us to all get along and let's go to another charity ball and seminar, symposium and let's talk about how we help the disabled as we squander another 5 million dollars paying our attorneys to represent our agencies to fight against familes trying to protect their children and relatives with developmental disablities. Oh, I know the type. I can see them before they have time to drop a name, number or more of their pathetic nonsense. Larry, you are a true man. A man who stood by his brother, fought for his honor and didn't take any crap from these double minded, twisted sociopaths running things in the system serving disabled. You did everything a good brother does for his autistic brother and more than even expected. Never let any of this nefarious, putrid, resentful coward scumbags who hide behind their shame and guilt of being lousy employees or reps in the system serving vulnerable adults cause you to lose a minute of your life. F them.

Kim Oakley said...

http://www.sdpolicemuseum.com/Larry-Ingraham.html

Larry, never forget who you are and what God gifted you to do. Stand proud. You are someone who has and will always make a difference in the world, especially in the autism community. You have done so much good on so many levels. Great man. An honorable man.

Laurence Ingraham said...

...thanks, Kim.....your words mean a LOT to me. I see you as a true warrior, taking on each and every wrong dumped on your precious angel / son; then exposing it to the world, to help other autistic angels and their families. I also need to tell you, that I was told to drive to Fairview Developmental Center and check it out, So a few weeks back, I did so, and was overwhelmed to see the majority of this vast facility vacant, with most of the disabled now moved into smaller, more secure and better monitored residences. It was truly weird, driving the 2 mile perimeter of this behemoth facility, which at one time had nearly 3,000 disabled and another 15,000 employees, contractors, specialists, maintenance and kitchen staff, hospital staffing, etc....now all gone.....To see this, brought true closure for me, Kim. That was my goal starting in 2007, and now it's a reality, and the abuse has been halted. May God keep His hand on your shoulder, Kim.....larry

Kim Oakley said...

Wow Larry, this is amazing work you did. All your advoacy and exposing the horrendous conditions at this place paid off! You probably saved a few lives. People who couldn't speak or defend themselves from pernicious people hiding within the massive system serving clients at Fairview. Smaller homes allows for more quailty control. I'm sure your brother is always looking down on you, smiling. Proud. Bragging about you, as he sips that soda he so loved. I remember reading this. Bless you Larry for all you did. May you have many more wonderful days ahead of you and enjoy your life. And thank you for your service in past. I had found where you received the medal of valor, and wasn't surprised. That's the kind of man you are! Hugs. Kim

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