The family of a woman who has the mental capacity of an 8-year-old sued the state Wednesday, alleging the Department of Social and Health Services failed to protect her from being raped by one of its employees.
Maryann Stallone, 57, who loved ones say is autistic and non-verbal, since the 1970s has lived at the Rainier School in Buckley — a state facility for adults with developmental disabilities.
Pierce County prosecutors charged one of the school’s employees last year with raping her at the center, which DSHS runs.
Now Stallone and her sister, Cathy McIvor, allege in their lawsuit that the state didn’t take enough precautions to prevent the sexual assault.
“We’re certainly condemning DSHS and the state for the fact that he was there and able to be alone with the most vulnerable adults living at the Rainier School,” said Gemma Zanowski, one of Stallone’s attorneys. “She can’t speak up for herself. This school has both the responsibility and the obligation to protect her, and they didn’t.”
DSHS officials said they could not comment on the pending litigation.
The officials released a statement Wednesday that said the suspect, 61-year-old Terry Wayne Shepard, was fired Nov. 16. He awaits trial for two counts each of second-degree rape and indecent liberties.
According to charging papers:
Another staff member walked in on Shepard, a supervisor at the school, as he raped Stallone in her room Nov. 13. After Shepard’s arrest, another woman at the school told staff members he had sexually assaulted her, too.
The lawsuit alleges Shepard sexually assaulted Stallone other times, as well, and that the state should have known he was a risk to residents at the school.
Zanowski said Stallone’s family made the decision to release her name and photo.
“It’s important for the family that people know that this is a real human being who has gone through this suffering,” the attorney said.
They’re considering moving Stallone out of state, to be closer to her sister. For now, she still lives at the Rainier School, where she has a caretaker with whom she’s bonded, Zanowski said.
“Uprooting her is something that may also be very traumatic,” the attorney said.