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Stephen Bulzomi John Christensen Jeremy Johnston James McCormick Gemma Zanowski

EPIC Case Profile: Stallone vs. State of Washington

Case Overview:

The Plaintiff, Maryann Stallone, is a non-verbal autistic adult with the mental capacity of an eight-year-old. Stallone was a resident at Rainier School in Buckley, Washington—a habilitation center for individuals with developmental disabilities.

Maryann Stallone and guardian Catherine McIvor

Maryann Stallone and legal guardian Catherine McIvor

On November 13, 2016, Terry Wayne Shepard, who was a manager and supervisor at Rainier School at the time, raped Stallone. The rape was witnessed by another Rainier School employee. Pierce County prosecutors charged Shepard with second-degree rape the next day.

There is reason to believe that this was not Shepard’s first sexual assault against Stallone. Following the incident, investigations showed that Shepard sexually assaulted at least one other vulnerable adult during his employment at Rainier School.

Rainier State School in Buckley, WA

Rainier School, Photo credit: KOMO News

Case Details

To protect vulnerable adults from abuse, neglect, financial exploitation or abandonment by a care provider, Washington State legislature enacted the Abuse of Vulnerable Adult Statute.

Under the Vulnerable Adult Statute, the State of Washington is liable for the abuse and neglect suffered by Stallone. The state must be held accountable for the actions of the employees they hire to care for some of the most vulnerable adults in our community. The VAS provides specific language to ensure such accountability.

According to RCW 74.34.200:

“…a vulnerable adult who has been subjected to abandonment, abuse, financial exploitation, or neglect either while residing in a facility or in the case of a person residing at home who receives care from a home health, hospice, or home care agency, or an individual provider, shall have a cause of action for damages on account of his or her injuries, pain and suffering, and loss of property sustained thereby.”

The fact that the rape occurred imposes liability upon the State of Washington.

The State of Washington was also negligent in its employment and supervision of Shepard, therefore exposing Stallone to great harm. Shepard had been previously suspected of and investigated for sexual assault while employed at Rainier School. The State of Washington should have taken appropriate action to protect Stallone and other residents of Rainier School from Shepard. They did not. As a result Stallone suffered unspeakable acts of abuse.

Terry Wayne Shepard, Accused of Rape at Rainier School

Terry Wayne Shepard, Photo credit: KIRO 7 News

Additional Resources:

KING5 Investigators did an investigative series on the State of Washington’s treatment of developmentally disabled adults, featuring Rainier School among others.

KOMO News‘ coverage on the sexual assault case on Stallone.

News Tribune‘s article on Shepard.