Vegetative State Birth

Vegetative State Birth

PHOENIX — The family of an Arizona woman in a vegetative state for years who became pregnant and had a baby said it would care for the child but angrily pressed for answers as the search for her rapist intensified.

Police served a search warrant Tuesday to get DNA from all male employees at a long-term care facility in Phoenix. Owner Hacienda HealthCare said it welcomed the step.

“We will continue to co-operate with Phoenix police and all other investigative agencies to uncover the facts in this deeply disturbing, but unprecedented situation,” the company said in a statement.

Reports that the woman, who was in a vegetative state for more than 10 years after a near-drowning, had delivered a baby on Dec. 29 has triggered reviews by state agencies and highlighted safety concerns for severely disabled or incapacitated patients. Local news website first reported the birth.

A lawyer for the woman’s family said they were outraged at the “neglect of their daughter” and asked for privacy. It’s unclear if staff members at the facility were aware of her pregnancy until the birth.

“The family would like me to convey that the baby boy has been born into a loving family and will be well cared for,” Phoenix attorney John Micheaels said in a statement.

Officials with the San Carlos Apache tribe of southeastern Arizona said they were “deeply shocked and horrified at the treatment of one of our members,” a 29-year-old woman.

“When you have a loved one committed to palliative care, when they are most vulnerable and dependent upon others, you trust their caretakers,” tribal chairman Terry Rambler said. “Sadly, one of her caretakers was not to be trusted and took advantage of her. It is my hope that justice will be served.”

San Carlos Apache Police Chief Alejandro Benally said Phoenix police “will do all they can to find the perpetrator.”

A spokesman for Hacienda HealthCare, David Leibowitz, said investigators served a search warrant Tuesday to obtain DNA samples from all male staffers — a day after company CEO Bill Timmons stepped down.

Board member Gary Orman said the facility “will accept nothing less than a full accounting of this absolutely horrifying situation.”

“We will do everything in our power to ensure the safety of every single one of our patients and our employees,” Orman said in a statement.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s office has called the situation “deeply troubling.” Phoenix police so far have declined to comment but were holding a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

The Hacienda facility serves infants, children and young adults who are “medically fragile” or have developmental disabilities, according to its website.

After the reports, the Arizona Department of Health Services said new safety measures have been implemented, including increased staff presence during any patient interaction, more monitoring of patient care areas and additional security measures involving visitors.

The state’s online complaint database for care facilities shows multiple complaints about the Hacienda centre going back to 2013. Most of them involve fire drill and evacuation preparation or Medicaid eligibility.

But one complaint from December 2013 outlines an allegation that a staff member made inappropriate sexual comments about four patients two months earlier. Nobody relayed the incidents to an administrator. That employee was later fired.

Martin Solomon, a personal injury attorney in Phoenix whose clients are mostly vulnerable adult victims of abuse and neglect, said a lawyer representing the woman who gave birth should call for all pertinent medical records, a list of current and former employees and any past litigation involving Hacienda.

It would be hard for Hacienda to escape any kind of liability in court, he said.

“There’s a lot of information we do not have. But things like this don’t happen without someone either knowing about it or should have known about it,” Solomon said. “Whether it’s an employee or someone from the outside, the facility has an obligation to protect residents.”

Advocates for people with disabilities say Arizona needs to find a way to monitor allegations of sexual abuse and sexual violence in group settings. Doing background checks isn’t enough, said Erica McFadden, executive director of the Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council.

“I think when you’ve had somebody who’s had multiple allegations from different parties, there has to be some way to track that,” McFadden said. “If it’s the same story from different people, then there’s something wrong.”

The council recently formed a task force to look at how to improve training for health care workers when it comes to identifying and reporting sexual abuse.

“We don’t have a systematic way to train people what’s a good touch or a bad touch. We also don’t have required training for providers,” McFadden said. “We really need a lot of work in this area.”

Jon Meyers, executive director of The Arc of Arizona, an advocacy group for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, called the allegations “disturbing, to put it mildly.”

“I can’t believe someone receiving that level of constant care wasn’t recognized as being pregnant prior to the time she delivered,” Meyers said.

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By The Wall of Law January 10, 2019 Off

Family of slain Mississauga teen ‘broken,’ band together for court dates

Wearing T-shirts with the 14-year-old’s photo, the family of Riley Driver-Martin vowed they would show up for all the court proceedings connected to the young boy’s murder.

Driver-Martin was found dead by a passerby in a Mississauga laneway on Dec. 7.

Little is known about how the teenager died, with Peel police only saying he had “obvious signs of trauma.”

“Riley was our nephew, our cousin, our friend, and most importantly he was CJ’s son,” the boy’s uncle, Joseph Medley, said outside a Brampton court on Wednesday, his voice trembling.

“We will never forget that this innocent boy’s life was taken away from him. Riley was a human being. Riley was capable of love and being loved. Help us find justice for Riley, for an innocent child.”

The first of two arrests in the case came mere hours after the disturbing discovery. The next day, police had charged two suspects, a pair of brothers, in connection with his death.

Nicholas and Mark Mahabir, both 20 years old, have each been charged with second-degree murder.

The brothers are two of three fraternal triplets. The charges against them haven’t been proven in court.

The details of the case as heard in court are protected under a publication ban.

Court documents obtained by CTV News Toronto indicate that Nicholas Mahabir, who was charged with robbery in May 2018, was ordered by a judge not to communicate with his brother, Mark, as part of the conditions of his release.

The documents showed that Nicholas was also accused of violating that undertaking on Nov. 9, 2018. A warrant for his arrest was issued the following day.

Mark Mahabir appeared before a judge in Brampton on Wednesday morning. Nicholas appeared on Monday, where his case was put over until Feb. 4

Outside the courthouse, members of the Driver-Martin family called on the judge not grant the brothers bail again.

“They should remain in custody. They should not be able to get out on bail. They were already out on bail for crimes they had already (allegedly) committed, and then this,” the boy’s grandmother, Sarah Martin, said.

“This is just incomprehensible. Our family is broken… We will be at every court date, we will be at every trial date, and we will not rest until we see justice.”

Martin said the family has struggled, their grief bringing them to scrap Christmas plans.

“How could you celebrate when you’re missing a part of your heart?” she said.

“He was the heart and soul of our family and he’s gone. We will never have him back. We’re broken. The family is broken.”

Medley, wearing a shirt with the mugshot of one of the suspects, said the family plans on making new shirts for the next court date.

“Every time we come to court, we’re going to have different shirts, some with Riley on it,” he said.

“The next shirt I’m coming up with, the word underneath (his photo) is going to be ‘Family.’”

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By The Wall of Law January 10, 2019 Off

‘I’m going to do whatever it takes to stay in my home,’ says man fighting Toronto islands act

A man on the verge of losing his longtime family home on one of Toronto’s islands says he plans to try and get provincial legislation changed to allow family members to leave such properties to people other than spouses or children.

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By The Wall of Law January 10, 2019 Off

Darwin The Ikea Monkey Has A New Baboon ‘Surrogate Dad’

Darwin the

If your New Year’s resolution was to catch up with old friends, we’re here to make that a little easier: everyone’s favourite viral monkey, Darwin, is doing great.

In fact, the Japanese macaque who was catapulted to worldwide fame after he was spotted wearing a shearling coat at a Toronto Ikea in late 2012 even has a new “surrogate dad” — an 18-year-old olive baboon named Pierre.

These days, as six- or seven-year-old Darwin enters his macaque “teenage” years, “Pierre is very much a father figure,” Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary co-owner Daina Liepa told HuffPost Canada in a phone interview.

Pierre is “a very sweet monkey” with “a lovely gentle personality,” but he’s not afraid to discipline Darwin if he steps out of line. Darwin will sometimes try to steal Pierre’s food, for instance, or will be overly rambunctious — but when that happens, “Pierre will settle him down,” Liepa added.

In case you’re not caught up on the “Ikea monkey” saga, here’s a quick refresher: Darwin was taken away from his owner, Yasmin Nakhuda, after he went viral at Ikea. (Monkeys are on Toronto’s prohibited animal list.) For the last six years he’s been living at the primate sanctuary.

Story Book Farm in Sunderland, Ont., has lemurs, baboons, spider monkeys and capuchins, as well two other Japanese macaques like Darwin. Because monkeys tend to be very tribal, they hoped to place Darwin with other macaques — but Julian and Lexy were much more aggressive than the timid Darwin, and staff were worried they might attack him.

So he got an enclosure of his own, next to two good-natured olive baboons: Sweet Pea, a female, and Pierre.

Initially, they were worried Darwin wouldn’t socialize. Primates “tend to not be friendly with other species,” Liepa said.

Ideally, Darwin would have been transported to an American sanctuary that specializes in Japanese macaques — but because they didn’t have his exact birth date or medical history, they weren’t able to get him across the border. (There’s only one other primate sanctuary in Canada, the Fauna Foundation near Montreal, which specializes in chimpanzees.)

Darwin at the Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary in Sunderland on November 27, 2014.

So the sanctuary’s staff and volunteers were encouraged when Sweet Pea and Darwin started grooming each other through the spaces in their enclosure. The female baboon would sometimes tease him, Liepa said, by offering him toys or blankets through a space between their caging. Once Darwin went to accept her offering, “she would scream and pull it back,” Liepa remembers. “She was such a tease.”

That interaction is probably very common to people with siblings — but overall, Sweet Pea was very motherly to Darwin, Liepa said.

“Darwin is very shy, and [Sweet Pea] was quite patient with him.”

She suspects Darwin’s unusual upbringing is part of why he’s so reclusive. “We don’t know whether it’s because he was paraded around on a leash when he was little, and his former owner took him everywhere with her, whether he liked it or not,” she said.

“We don’t know if that’s the reason, but it certainly seems to be something that must have happened before he came to us, that he was very shy.”

The founder of Story Book Farm, Sherri Delaney, has alleged that Darwin was abused by his former owners, a charge Nakhuda’s lawyers have strenuously denied. HuffPost Canada reached out to Nakhuda, but she declined an interview.

Darwin sits in the corner, with Pierre in the forefront.

No matter what his life was like pre-sanctuary, Liepa says it’s clear from Darwin’s behaviour that he was taken away from his mother too young.

“Macaques should be with their families for the first two or three years of their lives, which is when they teach them how to behave, how to be part of the group,” she said.

They think Darwin was about six months old when they took him in, which would mean he was separated from his mother after two or three months. For that reason, “it was great for him to have this relationship with Pea and Pierre.”

Once Darwin moved into the enclosure with Sweet Pea and Pierre, Liepa and the volunteers were relieved they got along so well, especially because of their different species. She said the dynamic between the three became very familial, with the baboons serving as “surrogate parents.” And when Sweet Pea died last January, Liepa says she was was glad that Pierre and Darwin had each other.

Pierre, an olive baboon, is Darwin's new "surrogate dad."

Through Pierre, Darwin is leaning what most monkeys learn from their mothers. “It takes another monkey to teach a monkey how to behave,” Liepa said.

And even though monkeys are close to humans genetically, Liepa stresses that they aren’t domesticated. The sanctuary offers visits to the public, but she regularly has to remind people that they can’t cuddle with the lemurs or spider monkeys, no mater how cute they are.

“They’re wild animals,” she said.

This is a different approach than that of Nakhuda, who has referred to Darwin as her “son.” She launched a legal challenge to get him back, which failed when judge ruled that Darwin was “not a domestic animal.” After losing her court battle in 2013 she moved to the small village of Pontypool in Kawartha Lakes, where exotic animals were not restricted.

In 2016, she told reporters she owned four monkeys, as well as two miniature donkeys, a wallaroo, several alpacas, two ferrets and a fox. (The municipality banned exotic animals in 2017, but the by-law included a “grandfather” clause that allowed residents to keep their existing animals.)

Watch: Why monkeys don’t make good pets. Story continues below video.

Story Book, meanwhile, is launching a fundraiser to raise money for its newest initiative: saving lab monkeys. Across the country, even healthy primates are routinely euthanized after they’ve served their purpose for medical research, the Globe and Mail notes. The sanctuary has saved three of Canada’s nearly 6,500 lab monkeys from death — Cedric, Cody and Pugsley — but they’re hoping to house more.

Liepa says she’s amazed at the lasting impression Darwin has made on the public.

“Six years later, people still remember him, people talk about him,” she said. “I’m going to get my coffee at Second Cup or wherever, and people start talking to me.

“It’s certainly a conversation-starter.”

Daina Liepa feeds Rudy, a squirrel monkey, at the Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary.

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SEATTLE — Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos is divorcing his wife MacKenzie, ending a 25-year marriage that played a role in the creation of an e-commerce company that made him the world’s wealthiest person.

The decision to divorce comes after a trial separation, according to a statement posted Wednesday on Bezos’ Twitter account. Both Bezos and MacKenzie signed the announcement that ended with a vow to remain “cherished friends.”

Left unanswered was one of the biggest sticking points in any divorce: How the assets amassed during the marriage will be divided.

And there has never been more money than in this case.

Bezos’ fortune currently hovers around $137 billion, based on estimates by both Forbes and Bloomberg. Virtually all of that is tied up in the nearly 79 million shares of Amazon stock (currently worth about $130 billion) that Bezos owns in the Seattle company, translating into a 16 per cent stake. Bezos also owns rocket ship maker Blue Origin and The Washington Post, which he bought for $250 million in 2013.

Amazon’s origins trace back to a road trip that Bezos took with MacKenzie, not long after they met in New York while working at hedge fund D.E. Shaw. They got married just six months after they began dating, according to Bezos.

Not long after they got married, Bezos quit his job at Shaw and started an online book store. While MacKenzie did the driving, Bezos wrote a business plan as they travelling across the country to Seattle — chosen for its abundance of tech talent. By July 1995, Amazon was operating out of a garage, with MacKenzie lending a hand, according to a review she posted on Amazon in 2013 panning “The Everything Store,” a book about Bezos and the company written by Brad Stone.

“I was there when he wrote the business plan, and I worked with him and many others represented in the converted garage, the basement warehouse closet, the barbecue-scented offices, the Christmas-rush distribution centres, and the door-desk filled conference rooms in the early years of Amazon’s history,” MacKenzie recalled.

Amazon has since evolved from an upstart website selling books to an e-commerce goliath that sells virtually all imaginable merchandise and runs data centres that power many other digital services such as Netflix. It also has become a leader in the voice-activated speakers in Echo, which is emerging as a command centre for internet-connected homes while also making it easier for people to buy more stuff from Amazon.

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By The Wall of Law January 10, 2019 Off