Unspeakable: An Autistic Woman's Family Says the State Exposed Her to Sexual Abuse

Tue Jul 24 2018
Image of Maryann Stallone

BuzzFeed News special report looked at one family's case against the state of Washington alleging that the state is at fault for failing to protect Maryann Stallone from being sexually assaulted. In the article "Unspeakable: An Autistic Woman's Family Says the State Exposed Her to Sexual Abuse ," details of Stallone's assault are recounted in graphic detail. On November 13, 2016, Stallone was sexually abused by supervising attendant Terry Wayne Shepard at the state-run institution where she lives. Stallone, who is autistic and requires 24-hour assistance, didn't know the signs to tell anyone of her assault. However, another worker at the Rainier School institution witnessed the attack and reported it to police. The next day, another resident of that facility came forward to report abuse by Shepard. 

But family of Stallone believe the fault doesn't exclusively lie with Shephard, and have sued Washington state for failing to protect her in one of their facilities. Stallone's sister, Cathy McIvor, believes that circumstances leading up to the assault were built into the institution where Stallone has lived since she was a young girl. Buzzfeed News interviewed ICI director Amy Hewitt on the level of training staff at such institutions receive. Hewitt explained that individual states set their own hiring standards for people working with institutional residents. There are no federal standards for training nor supervision.