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Tell Them You Love Me (2023) | Transcript

A professor has a relationship with a nonverbal man with cerebral palsy. Their affair leads to a criminal trial over disability and consent. The film shows interviews and footage presenting both perspectives.
Tell Them You Love Me (2023)

Tell Them You Love Me (2023)
Director: Nick August-Perna

A true crime documentary inspired by one of the most polarising criminal trials of recent history. It explores themes including disability, race, sex and perception of consent by looking back on the controversial case of philosophy professor Anna Stubblefield.

* * *

The following program me contains adult themes and scenes which some viewers may find distressing.

(GENTLE MUSIC)

ANNA: In the beginning when I was first convicted, I felt like Alice In Wonderland.

Down the rabbit hole in this strange place that doesn’t follow any rules that I’m used to or anything like that.

(SHUTTER CLICKING)

When I came out, I remember I went to my hairstylist, and.

(SIGHS) I gave a big sigh, and I said, “OK, you’re gonna be my first experience with experimenting with how much I say or don’t say about where I’ve been the past couple of years,” and where I’ve been is – I was in prison.

(DRAMATIC MUSIC)

My inclination, you know, here I am sitting here doing this, is you know, I don’t mind people knowing because you know, I’m not guilty of a crime, so…

(MUSIC CONTINUES)

(DISTANT SIRENS WAIL)

(GENTLE MUSIC)

DAISY: Derrick, let’s go.

(SNORING) Are you ready to get up?

(GROANING)

Good morning.

Come on.

Come on.

JOHN: I remember when they brought Derrick home from the hospital.

And I was just disappointed. I was like, “I got a baby brother. I wanted a little sister.”

And then when they brought him in the house, and I saw him, it was like an instant connection.

Everything was fine, you know. Nothing out of the ordinary.

I just remember that a certain point he became very listless, he didn’t move much.

He wouldn’t wake up. You know, he slept all the time.

He wasn’t doing what he was supposed to do.

Like he wasn’t sucking, he wasn’t holding his bottle.

And he couldn’t hold his head.

I would ask the doctor, “Well, what’s wrong with Derrick?”

And he said, “Oh, you’re comparing him to your older son.

He’ll be alright.”

And I says, “No, something’s not right.”

(MUFFLED COUGHING)

Early on, Derrick had a series of seizures.

So then they took Derrick, they put him in a sound room.

And they would do the lights for his eyes to follow, and he just wouldn’t react, or couldn’t.

And that’s when they told me that he has cerebral palsy, mm-hm, and he would never, you know, be able to do as normal children would do.

Mm-hm.

Derrick visited a few psychologists.

They deemed him, as the term they used, mentally retarded, non-verbal with cerebral palsy.

You know, then not knowing what the heck that meant, it just meant Derrick can’t walk, Derrick can’t talk.

(BACKGROUND CHATTER ON TV) Yes.

It’s all gone.

It’s all gone. You’re done.

You’re done, mm-hm.

OK.

Take your hands out your ears. What you want?

What’s the problem?

Hm?

You know the routine.

One finger. What’s that? Shh. You signing me?

Hm?

(GENTLE MUSIC)

Eventually, the seizures started to subside,

but what his cognitive level was,

I didn’t have a way of assessing that.

I know that he was listless for a point in time,

and then all of a sudden there was an awakening of sorts,

where he was in the world.

(UPBEAT MUSIC)

Whenever we would lock eyes, like, there was recognition there.

I just began to see Derrick,

you know, develop his own personality

and kind of come into his own.

Oh! They were inseparable.

Derrick would come home after school.

John would run home,

meet Derrick’s bus,

get Derrick in the house, call me, “Ma, we in the house.”

At a certain point, I just threw him on my back.

Play together, get into mischief together.

You know, wherever I go, Derrick has to go.

Derrick’s a character. You know, he loves to give hugs.

He just loves to smile a lot, you know.

You know when he’s happy.

He used to do, we called it, “the Stevie Wonder dance”.

You know, when Stevie Wonder is playing on the piano

and really feeling the music, and his head would sway side to side.

And so Derrick would do that from time to time too,

especially in church when he’s, like, really feeling the music.

(HUMMING)

Sometimes he’s self-abusive. We can be somewhere,

and then all of a sudden, “Ah,” he’ll put his hand in his mouth

and start banging his head and his knee.

And I don’t know why. Maybe he’s frustrated, um,

but he can’t communicate.

So what is going on in your head, Derrick?

Like I really

to me that was the great mystery.

(WATER PATTERING)

(CAR ENGINE WHIRRING)

NICK: Camera’s rolling. ANNA: OK. Everything’s fine.

Tell me the story of how you met.

I’m pretty sure,

or at least, I’m hopeful that I haven’t

been rewriting things in my head.

I don’t… didn’t wanna do that.

You know, I see how easily it can happen.

(UPBEAT MUSIC)

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

(BIRDS CHIRPING)

PRESENTER: (ON VIDEO) Our next speaker is Anna Stubblefield,

the Director of the Philosophy Department at Rutgers.

Thanks, David, is that one working?

This one? (MICROPHONE FEEDBACK) How’s this one?

Ah, that’s better. OK.

‘I was teaching

in the American Studies doctoral program me at Rutgers Newark.’

Race, class, gender, and sexual orientation and disability

are inextricably intertwined,

such that none of these concepts

would exist as it does without the others.

‘And John was one of my students.’

JOHN: When I was doing my PhD at Rutgers…

When a person cannot understand

Anna Stubblefield was a philosopher of race,

and also had a class about disability studies.

Alongside theorising about disability and ethics,

I also provide support

to people labelled with developmental disabilities.

I work with people who cannot communicate vocally

to provide them with access

to alternative forms of verbal expression and to literacy.

You know, while I grew up with a disabled brother,

I was not familiar with disability studies.

And I think, as an instructor, she was great.

And as a scholar, she was great as well.

The course was looking at the notion

of intelligence as a concept.

For example, the notion that if somebody can’t speak, it must be

because they’re too stupid, and there’s just nothing in their head.

That just is not the case.

It’s not the case.

Lacking speech doesn’t mean that you don’t have anything to say.

It doesn’t mean that you can’t use language.

If somebody can just get you access to a way to do it.

(PENSIVE MUSIC ON VIDEO)

INTERVIEWER: Can you describe what your world was like

before you were able to communicate?

Can you describe that for me?

Somewhere along the course, we ended up watching this video.

(SPEAKER VOCALISING ON VIDEO)

The person who was in the video had autism.

Want to go to Grandma. You want to go to Grandma’s?

Want to go to Grandma. Yeah, Grandma is gonna come here…

Sue Rubin,

she’s somebody who’s perceived by her parents and everybody

as severely intellectually impaired and just not there.

(VOCALISES) Yeah. Yeah.

But then she’s given access to a way to communicate.

COMPUTER VOICE: “When I was 13, my mother said she had seen someone”

start to communicate using a keyboard and support.

It’s called facilitated communication.

“As I began to type, my mind began to wake up.”

Bye-bye. ‘The person who was in the video’

used a keyboard and eventually became proficient enough

to communicate the complexities of her life.

She was able to do college-level work,

and she graduated with a dual major, etcetera, etcetera.

And this was her story.

WOMAN: “I think I was lost.” W-A.

“In some way.

I… acted like my worst nightmare.”

Y-E.

“Yes.”

At that time, I had never heard anything

about this facilitated communication.

(DOOR OPENS)

After that class, John, he said,

“This woman in this film reminds me a lot of my brother.”

How she moves, how she looks, and then…

I see her typing, and she’s going to college,

and we’ve always been told

that my brother, you know, basically, he should be institutionalised.

But we’ve always felt that maybe

“there’s something more going on there.”

We recognised that Derrick had a disability.

But we never thought that he was incapable

of doing any number of things.

I always knew that there was something there.

Like right on cue, at certain points,

Derrick would say, “Uh, uh, uh,” you know, Derrick was paying attention.

Derrick wanted to weigh in on this discussion.

(CLIPPER BUZZING) ‘When we would go to get haircuts, ‘

I would sit there and read The Daily News.

And Derrick would be sitting next to me, and so every so often,

Derrick would look over my shoulder and look in the newspaper.

And was it a mimicking behaviour? Maybe.

But he has this way of

appearing to be absorbing information.

And so there were dozens

of these kinds of moments through our lifetime.

(CHATTER ON TV)

I love my brother to death,

and I always want nothing but the best for him.

And so I asked her, “I would love to hear more

about facilitated communication. Who can I talk to?”

(DRAMATIC MUSIC)

I told him the nearest place on the East Coast

where there’s support for facilitated communication

is Syracuse University.

But it’s gonna be too expensive.

So I said to John,

“If you wanted,

I could at least just kind of

do some initial stuff, kind of see if it’s working.”

(MUSIC INTENSIFIES)

DAISY: She was Miss Anna.

You know, she could do great things.

She was gonna move mountains, and…

I… accepted her at her word.

(WIND CHIMES RING GENTLY) (BIRDS CHIRPING)

(GENTLE MUSIC)

ANNA: When I was a child, I came from an unusual family.

My mom did work with people

with a range of physical disabilities,

with intellectual disabilities, who came to the house.

My mom had a T-shirt with the slogan,

“Labels are for jars, not people.”

I found disability interesting

because of that exposure.

And so I got my dad to, you know, build me a pair of crutches

so I could, you know, pretend to be post-polio,

or have cerebral palsy, or something like that.

I’d tie a blindfold on and spend all afternoon…

SANDI: During her elementary years,

I taught her how to write Braille.

At her request, I got her a blind pen pal.

She was interested in sign language,

and I think she may have learned some of that.

I was fascinated by the way in which,

you know, it’s not really the impairment,

it’s the environment

that creates impairments for people.

Growing up, I got that message very powerfully, how in our society,

it’s like we want everybody to walk through the same-size door.

And if you don’t fit in that door, there’s something wrong with you,

and that doesn’t have to be that way.

(CROWD CHATTERING)

Welcome to the 1993 Conference

on Facilitated Communication in Syracuse sponsored by

the Facilitated Communication Institute at Syracuse University.

I learned about facilitated communication

in December of 1990 at a conference.

Rosemary Crossley reported on the work she’d done in Australia.

(FOOTSTEPS APPROACHING)

ROSEMARY: I had done some work

with a girl named Anne McDonald

who had athetoid cerebral palsy.

Couldn’t move her hands.

Couldn’t speak. There was nothing.

We had a spelling board,

but because she had cerebral palsy,

her hands would move so much

that she couldn’t actually hit a target.

I tried what would happen

if I supported her, um

under her upper arm.

She could then move from the elbow

and do better in selecting items.

And it turned out that she could spell.

She was VERY smart.

We gave her the page-turner

so that every time she hit a button,

the page would turn,

and suddenly she could read books.

As soon as I heard their presentation,

I knew that’s what I needed.

This is how to help all these kids who I used to work with.

ANNA: My mother’s one of the first people in the country

who started doing training workshops in facilitated communication.

When she came back and started using it,

she was videotaping everybody,

and I ended up being the one who ran the camera.

So I was there when she first started using it.

I was part of that moment.

To see people for the first time

be able to type out something.

Being part of that was, you know… was amazing.

We find that once we open this world for the kids,

they are social now, they are appropriate.

They do have language. They do understand.

MAN: I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

Cherise has typed 120 poems, nine short stories.

She talks about everything she feels. (VOCALISES)

We understood that people knew

what it was they wanted to communicate.

And we needed to just provide some means

to make that possible physically.

(WIND SOUGHING GENTLY)

(BIRDS CHIRPING)

ANNA: When I met Derrick, I’d been told he had cerebral palsy,

and that was all.

He walks. He needs to hold onto somebody’s arm,

have a little support.

He can focus his gaze,

but his eyes kind of go off, his head turns.

If you’re not used to that,

we see that as signs of lack of intelligence.

I’ve seen enough people like that in my life

to know that that’s simply not true.

So I don’t register things that way.

(GENTLE MUSIC)

So I had just cut out some pictures from magazines

or drawn some pictures.

John and Daisy were in the room watching.

And I said to Derrick,

“I’m gonna ask you some questions,

and I’m not asking them

because I don’t think you’re smart enough or anything.

I just want to see what happens when you try to point to something.”

So I watched and he

would kind of start moving his arm. It would go a little ways.

And then he’d have this kind of muscle jerk reaction,

which turned out to be very typical.

You can see how hard he works

to try to have the least little bit of control over his arm,

and it’s slow.

If you’ve got cerebral palsy, you might be able to get your hand

to something you’re pointing at, but it might take you a minute.

How do you have a conversation like that?

So I had started with just a little support on his elbow.

And that was it initially, that freed him up enough,

and then he could select which picture he wanted.

So, so far, so good.

Then I said, “Now what I want to do is

see where you’re at with literacy.”

So I had cards that just had letters on them,

kind of like doing Boggle,

so if you have A, B, C, and T,

you can spell cat, you can spell bat.

And when I asked him to spell as many words as he could

using these four letters, he made a very good showing with that.

But it’s one thing to reach your whole hand

toward a very large target.

It’s an entirely different thing

to get one finger pushing a key.

So I had this small, very lightweight, portable keyboard

with a small LED display called the Neo.

I ended up where I was keeping his fingers folded down

so that his index finger was isolated.

And the first thing I asked him to do

was point to the letter H, the letter T.

And he started making mistakes.

So he mixed up the A and the H,

and he mixed up the T and the F,

and the U and the V.

What I realised was that the alphabetical-order letter board

that I’d set up were all lowercase letters

and on the Neo is capital letters.

And so the difference between the A and the H

was one little line across the top of the A,

that sort of thing.

When he was making those mistakes, I just said, “No, no, you’re wrong.

I asked for the A, you hit the H. Here’s the A here.”

And then I went through some other letters, and then I would go back.

He didn’t make the same mistake twice.

So he was a really fast learner.

Tell him once, he’s got it.

(PROMISING MUSIC)

DAISY: It was like the porch lights went on.

And I was like, “Wow, is he doing it?”

And I felt very excited about it.

She said, “Don’t forget you’re travelling with him”,

you’re taking him places,

and when you’re taking him,

“he’s reading the signs.”

And, you know, I’m mama

tell me what my sons can do.

JOHN: I was elated. I mean, I always knew that there was something there.

And so in a way,

it somewhat confirmed what I’d already knew.

In the school that he attended, the Essex County Day Training Programme,

they had did some remarkable things with him.

They were able to get him to the point where he can,

you know, walk on his own.

But there was this question of intellectual capacity.

And so to have this revelation

that Derrick can do these things, it was just like, “Wow.”

I knew it was there, and I’m just happy for him.

(DISTANT SIRENS WAIL)

(WIND SOUGHING GENTLY) (BIRDS CHIRPING)

One day when Derrick came, and I just asked him,

“Did you do anything particularly interesting this week?”

And he typed “GM”.

His spelling was very, very creative in the beginning.

And I said, “Hm, you know, did you play a game?

“Was there some kind of game?” No.

“Gym, did you go to the gym?” Yes.

And then Daisy popped in with,

“Oh, yeah, his day program me had gone to a health club,

and he had walked on a treadmill, and he’d really enjoyed that.”

At that point, Daisy had stepped outside the room.

(DOOR CLOSES)

I said, “You know, it’s occurring to me

that I never actually asked you what you like to be called.

Your brother told me your name was Derrick, and I’ve been calling you, Derrick.

Tell me what do you want me to call you?”

And he typed D-M-A-N.

I was looking at that, and it didn’t look like any name that I recognised.

Daisy came back in the room at that point,

and I said, “He typed D-M-A-N.

Does that mean anything to you? Does…”

She said, “Oh! He had this really great teacher,

back when he was about 13 years old, who used to call him DMan.

That was the teacher who got him out of the wheelchair

and got him walking.”

So I said, “Is she right?”

And he said, “Yes.”

So I called him DMan from there.

That was a really important moment.

Being able to tell people what you wanna be called

is this important, emotional aspect of life

that we take away from people when they can’t speak.

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

DMan and I saw each other several hours a week.

And over the course of the year, as he speeded up,

as his spelling got a little better

it went from a couple-word answers

to five-word answers

to a whole sentence, to a couple sentences.

So by the end of a year,

we could really have a decent conversation.

And he could then be more expressive

and more detailed about what he had to say.

And that was… that was real progress. That’s huge.

I didn’t really feel like I was getting to know him as a person

until he got to that stage.

(CLOCK TICKING) (MUFFLED CHATTER ON TV)

(CUCKOO CLOCK CHIRPS)

Somewhat early on, Anna started saying

Derrick had the intellectual capacity to do high-level work

and to put sentences together and do all these different things.

I was like, “Woah, this is great.”

She told us, “Because Derrick was hanging around you all for so long”

and listened to your conversations, and you went to movies,

and you would watch TV,

and so he’s absorbing all of these things,

“and so that’s how he built his body of knowledge.”

Without, you know, going through a peer-reviewed (LAUGHS)

assessment of those assertions, I was like, “OK, I buy that, cool.”

(GENTLE MUSIC) (INDISTINCT CHATTER)

One of the things that really bothered him was

that he hadn’t had the opportunity

to get a formal education of any sort.

His brother was getting a doctoral degree,

so he had watched his brother and the whole process,

and he really, really, really wanted to have that also.

So there was a course

being offered on Saturday mornings at Rutgers Newark.

It was an African American literature course,

and that looked really interesting to him.

I guess the idea was for Derrick to go to a class,

possibly write papers, or at least be able to show the work

that may put him in line to then go on and pursue a BA.

I was getting towards the end of my PhD program me,

and so… you know, this kind of thing, you know,

Black scholar. My baby brother, who was developmentally disabled,

was gonna be a Black… could be a Black scholar. I felt great.

I sat in the class with him

and provided communication support for class.

We ended up finding him a student

who would facilitate DMan for doing part of the homework.

Her name was Sheronda Jones.

Sheronda met with him outside of class

for several hours a week so he could read the book

and then at least take a crack at writing the essay.

She had never taken this class.

She never read the books. She just provided the support.

He wasn’t doing 400-level writing,

but he was correctly identifying characters and plot elements.

He clearly had read the book and understood the book.

MAN: (ON VIDEO) From 1619,

when 20 of us were sold by a Dutch ship to the English…

ANNA: One day in class, the professor started it out

by showing a film on the entire African diaspora.

And DMan wrote something.

He wasn’t expressing himself

as articulately as I knew he was capable of,

and I was typing back to him because we were in class.

So I typed back,

“What if you said it this way, wouldn’t this be better?”

And he typed, “I know what you’re saying,

but just read it the way I wrote it.” And I said, “OK, fair enough.”

And then we got called on right at that point.

I couldn’t resist. I was sort of editing slightly as I read,

which all it did was make it worse.

Screwed up the whole thing, but I got to the end,

and the discussion went on.

He typed,

“Never ever, ever, ever, ever, ever do that again.”

I can tell DMan’s mad. (LAUGHS)

This was DMan furious.

And I typed back, “I’m so sorry.”

And he said, “I’m not mad, but don’t ever do that again.”

Because, you know, I did speak for him and that was wrong.

Needless to say, I never did it before,

and I never did it since.

But he was pissed.

(WIND CHIMES RING GENTLY) (BIRDS CHIRPING)

(MUG CLINKS)

(MUG THUDS)

(PENSIVE MUSIC)

(CAR DOOR CLOSES)

About a year after DMan started typing,

my mother was organising this panel with other FC users

for the Society For Disability Studies Conference,

and she asked if he wanted to be part of the panel.

I like to arrange conferences

that people with disabilities

can actually do some presenting.

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

JOHN: What I had noticed was that, in terms of the FC community,

Derrick was the only African American, and saw this

as a very white space, and in a way, Derrick was a

a path breaker, a trailblazer.

The Jackie Robinson of FC.

The panel was on the right to communication clause

in the UN Convention on Disability Rights.

But I said to him, “Don’t worry about the official topic of the panel.”

Just write something about the right to communicate,

or what it means to you to be able to communicate.

(PAGE TURNS)

He wanted to be able to refer to some of the literature.

I was getting books for him. Steven Pinker, who’s a neurologist,

who’s written about language being very hardwired.

I got him some Piaget.

It wasn’t much, but it was to give him a taste.

So he was reading the books, we were talking about things.

What he wrote for the panel

was very impressive to me.

It was less than a page,

but he had a choice of words,

a way of phrasing things. It really struck me.

I just became more and more aware that, you know, this was a man

who was very… insightful and very thoughtful.

He spent a lot of time sitting around,

and he was sitting around thinking,

and give him some ideas and something to work with,

and he was just digging in and seeing stuff.

That is what I… I mean, that’s what I like in my friends.

That’s honestly what I like in men.

You know, I’m the kind of nerdy, intellectual girl

who wants a nerdy, intellectual guy.

You know, you find you really enjoy talking to them, and

you know, you share tastes,

but you also disagree on things, but you learn from it.

I mean, we were just having those kinds of experiences.

But, you know, I was married. My marriage wasn’t terrific,

but I wasn’t in any way thinking about going outside the relationship.

I wasn’t shopping around. It was nothing like that.

At the time,

if you’d asked me, you know, “How do you feel about DMan?”

It’s, you know, “He’s my friend.”

I just really, really liked him, and I really, really enjoyed his company,

and I was really impressed by him.

(GENTLE MUSIC) (WIND SOUGHING, BIRDS CHIRPING)

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

In March of 2011,

I invited DMan to speak to an undergraduate class

where we were talking about disability issues.

So students were asking him questions,

and somebody asked him about, you know, what his hopes and dreams were.

And he talked about going to college

and maybe being a writer someday,

which was kind of where he was heading.

And then somebody else in the class said to him,

you know, what about love? What about relationships?

Is that something that you hope for?

And he typed, “I want that more than anything,

but that doesn’t happen for people with disabilities like mine.”

And

in that moment…

I mean, what I wanted to say was…

I-I almost (STAMMERS)

you know, y-y-you know, you can have that with me.

(EXHALES)

I started thinking about, “OK, well, wow, if this is the way I’m feeling,

OK, I’ve gotta think about this.”

And I didn’t… I still didn’t wanna say anything to him.

I was like, “Look, I’ve gotta figure this out.” I mean…

I had my husband and my kids.

I-I… OK, I’m in love with DMan. I realise this now, but…

I’m not gonna say anything. I have to sort all of this out. It was awkward.

(WIND SOUGHS GENTLY)

Then I saw him about a week later,

and I found myself saying

that I help the other people that I do facilitated communication with

because I believe so strongly

that everyone has a right to communication.

And then I said, “I do what I do for you because I love you.”

And he typed,

he said, “I know.

I love you too.”

And I said, “I know.”

He asked me to kiss him, and I did.

And

then he said, “Kiss me again.” (LAUGHS)

And I did, and

he said, “So now what?”

(KEYBOARD KEY CLICKS)

(KEYBOARD KEY CLICKS)

(KEYBOARD KEY CLICKS)

(HORN HONKS)

(“YOU MUST LIVE RIGHT TO MAKE IT IN” BY SHIRLEY CAESAR PLAYS)

As things went along,

Derrick started going on the speaking circuit,

I guess, going to these conferences and all.

And there started to be some tension.

♪ Can you see it No, no, no, you can’t see it

♪ A man asked me…

They were driving to this event in suburban Trenton somewhere,

and my mom was playing gospel music.

And Anna goes and turns the station…

(CLASSICAL MUSIC PLAYS)

and puts on classical music.

“He doesn’t wanna hear this, he wants that.”

She had ejected my gospel music,

so I hit it, and it went back to playing.

♪ ..be right at home… ♪

Derrick loves gospel. He goes to church. He hears the music.

That assumption that he prefers the high culture of classical music

and not the low culture of gospel, I mean, it was just

uh… too much of a leap.

(SOFTLY) Slow down.

There were different things, like one day,

when we broke for lunch,

I was cutting up his chicken,

and she rolled over to the table and said,

“What are you doing giving him meat?! He’s a vegetarian.”

I said, “Nobody sent me any friggin’ memo.”

There was another time she’s working with Derrick on the computer.

I said something to the effect to Derrick jokingly, “I can’t wait till we get home

so we can kick… get a beer, kick back and just relax.”

And then on the keyboard, it said something to the effect of,

“Well, I don’t like beer. I like red wine.”

And I just thought that to be hell a peculiar.

Derrick does not… He doesn’t even like communion wine.

If you’re in a “giving care” frame of mind,

you don’t see the person you’re supporting

as somebody who’s in a position to make their own decisions,

who has their own ideas about how they want things done.

(SOFTLY) OK.

(SOFTLY) OK.

You wanna give them some control

to develop into a person who has a good sense of themselves.

Come on.

So that part is

a hard adjustment for parents or teachers

who’ve been in a “I’m taking care of you” mode.

Turn your feet. Turn your body.

Now step off. Thank you.

My mom kept telling me oh, you know, Anna was saying that,

you know, she’s too mothering, she’s smothering Derrick,

Derrick doesn’t want all of this help from her,

that, you know, you can’t be my mom all the time.

All these different things, that it seemed to be breaking my mom down.

And… then to add to that,

this idea that, oh, Derrick now wants to live independently.

DMan had wanted to look into a more independent living arrangement,

moving out of his mother’s house

and moving into a supported living situation.

There was an organisation

that was able to provide supervised housing for Derrick.

Derrick would have individuals looking out for him 24 hours a day.

He would take classes. He would get his degree.

As my mom was telling me this, I thought,

“Where’s this money gonna come from for this? It’s not gonna be free.”

And I just kind of saw that as…

“Alright, you’re getting a little too personal here.

Now you’re looking into Derrick’s support?”

‘And I just wasn’t comfortable with that.'(PHONE BUZZES)

I said, “Anna

if he’s gonna move in a place, he’s gonna move in the basement

where John lived before John got on his own.

Derrick is not going anywhere.”

“You need to cut the apron strings.”

I said, “How am I gonna cut my apron strings

when Derrick cannot walk, talk, or do anything on his own?”

“See, that’s where you’re wrong. Derrick can do it.”

“You’re opening up a whole new world for him.'”

The ways in which she talked to my mom,

you know, not mothering the proper way,

and saying that Derrick doesn’t like this and wants this,

or “Daisy, you need to let him be a MAN.”

It just kind of rubbed me the wrong way.

Part of it might be a level of self-consciousness on my part

because I remember growing up in the late ’80s, early ’90s, and

you know, when my mom and dad separated and then divorced,

the idea of single parenthood was resonant.

There was all these studies about,

you know, “Children of single-parent households just don’t do well”.

You know, invariably it was framed around,

you know, “Black women aren’t good parents”,

“there’s things that Black women can’t teach their sons”, and

all of that was kind of in my ear.

Now, I think it’s important to recognise

that my mom, prior to all of this, was affiliated

with a number of organisations that were headed by women of colour,

who were advocates for people of colour with disabilities,

who otherwise may have been overlooked.

For Anna to make certain assumptions

about my mom’s expertise or her decision-making

and those kinds of things,

it just has those racial undertones and overtones.

It wasn’t like, you know,

“Nigger, get in the back of the bus” kind of racism.

It wasn’t that, but it was more like making assumptions

based on the idea certain people might be inherently… deficient.

Anna was just ignoring the past 30-some-odd years

and everything that my mom has done to get us to this point, right?

And so I had it in my mind,

we’re gonna have a long conversation.

We are gonna have to, like, really set some hard, fast rules,

or we may have to just kind of begin to draw things down.

DMan and I had debated on several occasions

whether we wanted to say anything

to Daisy and John about the change in our relationship.

We knew we were gonna tell them eventually.

So it was more just

we were enjoying that

kind of initial beginning of a romance

when it’s very private, and it’s very intimate,

and it’s just the two of you, and it changes

when you start sharing with family.

(CAR DOOR CLOSES) ‘But we had started figuring out’

ways that we could, you know, try to spend time together.

And there was the Sunday.

DMan and I had made plans to go to a film festival in New York,

where there was a film being shown

called Wretches And Jabberers, which was about FC users.

(BELLS TOLL) ‘Daisy wanted to go to church that morning.’

And in thinking about locations and stuff

for eventual romantic rendezvous,

we definitely didn’t want to use,

you know, his mother’s house.

But, you know, here we are at the house,

and she’s not there, and

it’s difficult for him to kiss,

so we wanted to practise.

Like anything else, it was a physical challenge for him.

(CLOCK TICKING) (MUFFLED CHATTER ON TV)

I could tell that he’s very tense,

and every time he tried to sit back,

he would kind of pop up again.

And I said, like, “Talk to me, you know,

obviously, this is not working for you. What’s going on?”

And he typed,

“I really, really love being with you, and I wanna be doing this,

but I’m just really overwhelmed right now, I need a minute.”

And I said, you know, “Fine, take all the time you need, of course.”

So he excluded himself down the hallway,

and I got a glass of water. I was just giving him some time.

And I said to him, “Look, you know”,

you’re the one where this is all a brand-new thing for you.

You’ve gotta call the shots. You’ve gotta

you know, I don’t wanna do anything that makes you uncomfortable.

I don’t wanna push anything faster.

I don’t know what’s gonna work for your body and what isn’t,

“so you tell me.”

I was figuring at that point

that, like, the moment had passed, and that was alright.

And

he typed, “May I touch your breasts?”

And I was like, “Wow, OK.”

I didn’t know where that was… That wasn’t what I was expecting.

OK. (CHUCKLES)

And then he typed,

“Take your shirt off all the way.”

I was like, “OK.” So I did that.

And then he said, “Take the rest of your clothes off.”

And OK, so I did.

And, um

then he said, “You know, I’ve dreamed about this.”

It seemed to me that what he was doing

was taking control of the situation.

He was, like, really ordering me around and, (LAUGHS)

but that was kind of cool because I wasn’t necessarily anticipating

that element of the relationship.

He said,

“I long to hold you the way that men do.”

I said to him, “Look, I feel held.”

He

Said,

“Do you think that it would even be possible

with my cerebral palsy

for us to make love?”

And I said, “You know, I have no idea,

but there’s only… there’s only one way to find out.”

(WIND SOUGHING GENTLY)

(CAR ENGINE WHIRRING)

We had this meeting scheduled for Memorial Day for DMan

to talk to Daisy and John about the independent living counsellor.

And DMan brought up, or I brought up, I don’t even remember,

you know, should we also use this opportunity

to tell them about the change in our relationship?

But I said to him, “Look, if Daisy and John did get upset about this

and chose to separate us,

technically, that’s a violation of your rights,

but it would be very hard to challenge them on that.”

‘He said to me…’ (DOORBELL RINGS)

“They would never do that to me. They love me too much.”

JOHN: We all sit down, and

there just seemed to be this awkwardness about it, you know?

If we’re gonna talk business, let’s talk business.

But she seemed… She looked at Derrick and said,

“Do you want me to tell them?”

And so…

I’m like, “Tell us what?”

And then she grabs Derrick’s hand,

and on the keyboard comes up,

“We are in love.”

So he typed, you know, “Anna and I are in love,

and we’ve, you know, we have a physical relationship,”

I think John said something about, you know, “Did you use protection?”

and DMan said, “Yes,” and…

She said, “Yes, we have made love.”

And I was like, “What?”

“Yes, we’ve made love.

He’s a man in every sense of the word.”

And what I did, I sat on my hands,

and I said, “You did what?”

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

You know, they asked me

about where things were at with my husband,

and, you know, I told them

I really did wanna, you know, be with DMan permanently to marry him,

that I hadn’t talked to my husband yet,

but that I was going to very soon, and…

There was a moment as part of the conversation

where he asked me to kiss him, I found that a little awkward.

Like, I didn’t really want to in that moment, just like…

You know, but he insisted, so I did.

(CLOCK TICKING)

I tried to be civil.

John had gone somewhere, and I think he went down and threw up.

I was shocked.

I didn’t really know what to make of it at the time, but…

I felt myself getting so angry,

and rage-filled that I left.

I went downstairs. I paced the floor a bunch of times.

I looked at the cracks in the wall. I remember…

I had to

let my anger subside.

I said goodbye to DMan, and Daisy was there, and she,

you know, came and gave me a big hug

and said, “You know, we’ll get through this.

We’ll figure this out.”

I was heading out the door and just saying goodbye to DMan.

I said, you know, I said to him, like, “Good call, love, hon.

You know, hon, it was a good choice to tell them.”

And then I left, and, you know, I was feeling fine.

(BIRD CAWING)

John called me the next morning

about 10 o’clock in the morning, and…

I think I knew something was gonna be wrong

when I saw he was calling.

He said, “Daisy and I don’t want you to see DMan

until you, and she and I have a chance to sit down and talk.”

We sort of scheduled a meeting, then she pulled out.

Then John or Daisy got back to me

and said, “You know what? We just don’t wanna meet.”

That was when… Then I started calling Daisy…

She would talk to me on the phone.

I would kind of address her concerns and talk about things.

And then she stopped returning my calls.

One of the things that happened with the facilitated communication

was that part of the sessions were for us, my mom and I,

to also practise with him.

And so Anna would be there with him,

and you know, a sentence will come out.

“Alright, John, you try.” So I would try to, and I would get nothing.

You know, eventually he would apply pressure.

I may get two words, but it wouldn’t make sense.

And then when my mama tried, nothing would happen.

See all these marks on my arm? That was Derrick’s facilitating.

He would grab me and pull my hand,

you know, take my hand away from his.

The coaching from Anna was,

“You have to keep trying. You have to keep practising.

You have to anticipate what he’s gonna say.”

That was one of those like, “Hm?”

That’s when I guess my own doubts started to creep in,

and that’s when I started looking

for the video that I initially saw in the classroom

to see, what in the world am I doing wrong? Um…

And that’s when I stumbled upon the Frontline Documentary on FC.

NARRATOR: Some people had doubts about facilitated communication.

Dr Howard Shane has devoted his life

to helping disabled non-verbal people to communicate.

MAN: You must be Dr Shane. How are you? Great to meet you.

In 1990, I got a call

from a prosecutor in Western Massachusetts

because someone was being facilitated,

and while being facilitated,

he mentioned that his aid in his group residence

was sexually abusing him.

And the prosecutor wanted to be sure

that this individual was actually independently communicating.

When you have somebody hold your hand,

it obviously brings up the question every time,

“Well, are they being influenced?”

How can you be sure that these individuals

are actually, you know, independently communicating?

Or they aren’t being facilitated and really being influenced?

I went on to design a protocol

that would enable me

to determine who was authoring the message.

OK, folks, what I’m gonna be doing now…

Shane had devised a double-blind test like this.

He showed both a series of pictures

and asked them to type what they saw.

Betsy, you sure you’re looking at…

When both Betsy and her facilitators saw a picture of a key

the letters K-E-Y were typed.

But Shane wanted to discover what happened

if each saw a different picture.

When Betsy saw a cup,

she didn’t type “cup”, she typed “hat”,

what the facilitator saw.

Now take a look at this one, OK?

When Betsy was shown a picture of a dog,

she didn’t type “dog”, but “sneakers”,

what the facilitator saw.

OK, here’s the next one.

Later work that I did and others have done

seems to indicate that facilitators were doing this

thinking they were giving people the ability to be able to communicate.

I don’t think that they’re intentionally

trying to create a false message.

They believe that this is coming from the person

who’s being facilitated.

The scientific evidence suggested

that far from unlocking the minds of autistic individuals,

FC tapped the unconscious thoughts of the facilitator.

I just remember thinking at the time,

you know, Derrick was writing those papers.

What I find interesting, in hindsight,

is that a lot of it revolved around this idea of

you know, “Now I have a voice. Now I can speak and talk,”

and, uh…

“Whereas I was trapped, now I have this freedom.”

And a lot of it revolved around things

that just, in my estimation, were not

about Derrick.

And so to me, it was just like this whole FC thing is bogus.

ANNA: I never got any vibe off of John or Daisy

that they didn’t 100% believe

that what DMan said was DMan’s words.

I had been careful in the beginning

to make sure that I wasn’t influencing him,

but there were so many, so many situations

that he was telling me information I didn’t know.

In the beginning, I was checking to make sure that I wasn’t influencing,

and the fact that we had arguments and disagreements,

and so on, and so forth, I mean, he very clearly had his own mind.

He more than proved himself.

The homework assignments that DMan had typed

with Sheronda, and she hadn’t read the books.

I mean, had John come and talk to me, I had all of this… proof

that I could have shared with him to reassure him.

(BELLS TOLL)

At the time, we weren’t trying to pursue any kind of legal thing.

We just wanted to leave us alone.

But then one day,

the Director of Derrick’s Day program me got an email from Anna.

And the gist of it was,

“Daisy and John have not allowed me to see Derrick,

but Daisy and John don’t know what’s in Derrick’s best interest,

but we, as people who work with people with disabilities, do.”

And at that point, I thought, “You know what?”

If she’s gonna go to these lengths to

try to get to Derrick behind our back,

there’s no telling what she may do,

“and I need to take steps necessary to put an end to this.”

And so I made an appointment to meet with the Dean.

I remember going into her office,

and I started to tell her what was going on.

She kinda froze and was like

took a deep breath and was somewhat in disbelief.

I don’t think I had taken the opportunity to kind of

let myself release this emotion.

I was just sat in that office… (CHUCKLES) ..and I don’t think

I ever cried in front of a white woman before, but I just broke down.

And she basically said to me,

in so many words, “John, make sure you get a lawyer.”

(LINE RINGING)

I got a phone call one day from Daisy,

and she said…

She said, “He’s been biting his hand a lot more. He’s really unhappy.”

So she said, “I’m just trying to understand

what happened between the two of you.”

(SERIOUS MUSIC)

To me, it sounded like,

“Oh, maybe this is an opening. Maybe they’re seeing he’s unhappy,

and they’re reconsidering, and,”

so I was happy to answer her questions.

You know, again, that feels kinda weird to talk about with

your lover’s mother,

but, you know, whatever.

If it kept the conversation going, and if she was listening…

I found out later that that was

that phone call had been set up by the police,

and they had coached her on what to say,

and it was being recorded.

(DETECTIVE READS)

The crimes investigated are crimes of the sexual assault nature.

(CAR ENGINE WHIRRING)

It was a Monday,

and I was teaching class in the afternoon,

so I pulled into the parking lot,

and I was approached by two people in plain clothes.

And they said, “We’re with the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office,

and we need to ask you some questions.”

And the only thing I could think of was something about a student.

(INDISTINCT RADIO CHATTER)

You know, I’m wondering what’s going on.

And then they said,

“Do you know somebody named Derrick Johnson?”

I was like…

“OK,” you know? And that was…

It’s starting to penetrate that, um…

“Wow, OK, this is…”

(FOREBODING MUSIC)

So then I had to make a decision on the spot

about how much do I say.

But I figured, “You know what? I didn’t do anything wrong.”

I talked to them for about two hours, and I told them the whole story.

That we were in love and all of that stuff.

I just didn’t actually say the words,

you know, “We consummated the relationship.”

They drove me back to the parking lot at Rutgers,

and there was a person I didn’t know,

who identified himself as a representative of the Dean’s Office.

He handed me a letter, and the letter informed me

as of this moment, I was suspended from my teaching duties at Rutgers,

I was not allowed on campus.

(MUSIC CONTINUES)

(SHUTTER CLICKING)

And while I was there,

they had gone to my house with a search warrant.

My… now ex-husband was there,

so he’s found out that I’m under investigation.

(DISTANT SIRENS WAIL)

CHRISTINE: This is Detective Christine McKowski

of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.

Today, we’re conducting an interview with Ms Karen Moore. Um…

(BIRDS CALLING)

(OARS CREAKING, WATER SLOSHING)

DR SHANE: I got a call from my assistant

saying that the Special Victims Unit in New Jersey was calling.

Asked me if I would be willing

provide some assistance as an expert.

As it was described to me,

I’d never encountered any case

that mirrored these particular circumstances.

I had never seen anything like it.

(PLANE ENGINE WHIRRING)

In this case, the question to me was,

“Could you evaluate Derrick to understand

his best level of communication?”

From everything that I read,

there was a consistency to the extent of his disability,

but I went in with an open mind.

I met him when he was brought to the prosecutor’s office.

He was accompanied by his brother and his mother.

‘I already knew that he had no speech.'(PEN JOTTING)

So I proceeded

to introduce different types

of materials for him to indicate.

Pictures, photographs, which are very realistic.

It was difficult for him, you know,

I really didn’t get very much from that.

He was able to pick up some objects, but not when I said, you know,

“Pick up the spoon,” or, “Pick up the cup.”

I did an interview of his mother.

Based on everything that she had observed,

and she certainly was a very good observer,

I found that he was, you know, functioning at a pretty low level.

His way of telling you that he wanted something to eat

was he would scoot over to the refrigerator

and tap on the refrigerator. That’s very functional.

But to move from that to pointing to a picture of the refrigerator,

that’s a greater level of abstraction.

And in all the years he had been in these different programmes,

he had never moved from the physical

to that type of communication.

(PENSIVE MUSIC) (PEN JOTTING)

I spent two or three hours with him.

He spent a lot of time just moving around the room.

He liked coat hangers, so if he saw a coat hanger,

he would go over, and he recognised that.

He liked to slap ’em on the floor.

So I just basically reported what I found.

I made a determination that what I was observing

was consistent with what the medical record had indicated

for, you know, over 20 years of his life.

There was no one in the 20 years

who saw some sparkling of, you know, something different.

(SHUTTER CLICKS)

(SOMBRE MUSIC)

(PENSIVE MUSIC)

I was actually looking forward to the trial

as finally, this nightmare is gonna be over.

I knew she was not guilty of anything.

ANNA: I’m not guilty

of what they were accusing me of.

If the accusation is

I have some weird perversion that makes me

want to molest helpless, intellectually impaired people.

(SHUTTERS CLICK, CROWD MURMURS) ‘that’s simply not the case.’

(GAVEL BANGING)

This whole thing is framed

in terms of consent and his ability to consent

because I’m the one who’s accused of assault.

It’s all as if it was all coming from me,

which is really not fair to him

because he seduced me,

and he deserves some credit for that.

Here’s this guy who’s so physically impaired,

and he

he got me to fall in love with him, and with his words.

The judge kept taking things away

and taking things away in terms of evidence.

I knew that DMan was the author of what he typed.

I wasn’t influencing him, but at the end of the day,

I didn’t have anything except my word for that.

(WIND SOUGHS GENTLY) (BIRDS CHIRPING)

(DISTANT SIRENS WAIL)

There was a morning, the prosecutor said,

“We’re gonna bring DMan into the courtroom.”

(DOOR OPENS)

It was Daisy who walked him in.

(SHUTTERS CLICKING)

DAISY: I had to say who he was.

And, you know, I was his mother.

And the fact that he could not walk by himself independently,

I just walked him

in front of the judge and then around by the jury stand.

It was horrifying to me

that a human being had been basically made an exhibit.

I know with DMan, there are ways of walking with him

in which he looks less handicapped,

and his mother walked him in

in a way that made him look as handicapped

and incapable as one could possibly manage.

She turned around again, and she turned

always putting her body in between him and… me,

and walked him out.

(GAVEL BANGING)

What we didn’t have on the jury was anyone

with significant physical disabilities or that understanding

of a disability rights perspective on the whole case.

At the end of the day, it was just

be myself and tell my story, and

hopefully, the jury would see that guy over there

is this wonderful, intelligent man who I was in love with.

NICK: Was there any moment, either during your time with Derrick,

or during the trial, or now,

where you had doubts about what might have occurred between you two?

Never.

(DISTANT SIRENS WAIL) (TRAFFIC WHIRRING)

DAISY: Her attorney came, and he was making me to be the villain.

And he said, “Well, how do you feel

about her being his lover?”

I said, “No.” I said, “She’s not his lover.”

This whore done laid down, raped my son,

and I had to compose myself because

that’s my son.

Days and nights, I walked through hospital corridors

not knowing what was wrong with my son,

not knowing his medical condition,

him having seizures.

And for that moment,

I almost lost it.

I did.

I really did.

Because who does that?

Who does that?

And then go criticise me.

Make me look like I’m… I’m nobody,

I don’t understand.

Who does that?

JOHN: I don’t think that Anna Stubblefield truly recognised

how she devalued my brother

and also devalued my family.

It’s one thing to

hear Anna Stubblefield say, “Derrick and I love each other.”

Just like…

But as the details of what actually transpired unfold,

that she was in her office,

she had this mat on the floor.

And then you recall that moment or that day

where I was changing Derrick’s diaper,

and I saw these abrasions on his back.

Strawberries, like somebody’s dragging you across the floor.

And we couldn’t figure out where the heck these things came from.

We called the school. “Did Derrick fall down?

Did something happen at the school? Did somebody hit my brother?”

They’re like, “No, nothing happened. We don’t know.”

Prosecutor’s trying to figure out what happened. The story comes out, “Oh!

Something happened in the office.”

And, I mean, this woman, 140, 150 pounds,

I don’t know how much she weighed, but she’s much heavier than him.

Derrick is slight. He’s 5’3 “, 5’4”.

And she was exerting so much force on him

that his back was being drug across this mat,

and it was leaving scars.

(EXHALES DEEPLY, TAPPING LEG)

That woman did not give a damn about my brother.

(SOMBRE MUSIC)

I didn’t think I was gonna be convicted,

but I wear contacts,

and that morning when the jury came back,

I did put my glasses in my purse.

It was my one little concession to.

If I ended up in prison, I needed my glasses.

SANDI: I think by the time

the verdict actually came.

I was expecting it.

When the jury read the conviction,

I started saying out loud to the judge,

“Just please let me take care of my daughter.

Just please let me take care of my daughter.”

Never doubted her.

No, not for an instant.

I mean, I watched her interact with people her whole life,

and she is

as compassionate a person as I’ve ever known.

And there’s no way, I mean, she’s never harmed anybody.

And there’s certainly no way she would’ve harmed a man.

Do you think she believed that he was typing?

Yeah, in her wicked mind.

In her wicked mind.

(DOOR OPENS)

(SHUTTERS CLICKING)

(GAVEL BANGING)

JUDGE: State versus Marjorie Anna Stubblefield,

indictment number 13-1-44.

We are here today for the sentencing of Marjorie Anna Stubblefield.

Yes, Your Honour. The victim’s brother, John Johnson,

would like to address the court, his mother would like to approach

and stand with him while he addresses the court.

That’s fine.

JOHN: Good afternoon, Your Honour.

Good afternoon. (CLEARS THROAT)

Thirty-four years ago, doctors said

my brother would not live to see his third birthday.

Those doctors and the devil are liars.

My brother since then has grown to become a loving person.

He is a beautiful brother, and he is a beautiful son.

I don’t think Anna understood the depth of pain she caused my family.

She tried to lay claim to him and rename him.

She tried to supplant Derrick’s life,

a life steeped…

Go ahead. (BREATHING HEAVILY)

Take your time.

Take your time.

A life steeped in the history and culture

of his God-fearing, southern-rooted African-American family.

She tried to supplant that with some version of life

she thought was better.

We need to disenchant ourselves from the notion

that Anna Stubblefield is some tragic “shero”.

Anna is not Sandra Bullock, and this is not The Blind Side.

Derrick is not some poor Black kid from the ghetto

that needs someone to save him.

An able-bodied woman raped a disabled young man

that could not consent to sex.

You were wrong, Anna. You committed a crime.

There is no grey area. In closing,

thank Your Honour for helping bring this ordeal to a close.

JUDGE: I have read and received letters

from the former husband of the defendant,

who wrote a very compelling impact statement.

“I believe that Anna is a pathological liar and narcissist.”

She will stop at nothing to fool the court and seek vindication

regardless of the emotional and financial expense

to her family or the primary victim’s family.

Clearly, I am distraught,

but this and the impact on my immediate family,

“I leave it to the wisdom of the court to determine a just sentence.”

Ms Stubblefield, please stand.

As to count one,

first-degree aggravated sexual assault,

where the victim was physically helpless or mentally incapacitated,

I sentence you to 12 years in New Jersey State Prison.

As to count two, I sentence you

to 12 years New Jersey State Prison concurrent with count one.

After you are released from prison,

you are placed on parole supervision for life.(GAVEL BANGS)

(SHUTTERS CLICKING)

(ATTENDEES MURMUR)

(BIRD CAWING)

DR SHANE: I never thought that she was a predator.

She truly believed that what she was doing

was in Derrick’s best interest.

She thought that he deserves the opportunity

to have a life outside of, you know, living with his mother.

But I think that given what I observed,

and what I learned from his record,

I think that it would’ve been a false life with Anna.

I think that she was a unfortunate victim

of methodology that’s very problematic.

However, she interpreted what was going on,

whether she actually had those conversations with him,

I don’t know. But she… you know, from my perspective,

she was having conversations with herself.

Um, and, you know…

(STAMMERS) I don’t know where to even go with that.

(CAR ENGINE WHIRRING)

ANNA: When I first came out of prison,

I managed to pick up a waitressing job,

and then there was some publicity around when I did the plea bargain

and I was sentenced, and

one of their customers complained, and so they let me go.

So I was doing that kind of thing

for the first year.

And then I do have,

you know, what’s now kind of part-time work.

I’m working at home, nobody knows me.

And so, you know, that’s OK,

but it’s not teaching.

That was my whole identity. That was everything.

(KNIFE THUDDING SOFTLY)

I don’t know what DMan’s life is like now, um…

As far as his mother and brother,

I think they had to really decide

that he wasn’t intelligent,

and he wasn’t typing, and it was all a fraud and a hoax.

A friend of mine, who is another… somebody else

who uses facilitated communication,

who knew DMan and was friends with DMan, um…

He said, “Look, if I was DMan,

I would rather have

had the relationship with you and lost it

than never to have had it in the first place.”

So I hope that he’s right.

You know, um, but…

(SOFTLY) Yeah.

(BIRDS CHIRPING)

(DOG BARKING)

People don’t think that there was damage done.

Yes, there was.

And it’s still going on.

I had to put him on medication.

Because he masturbates.

He has this urge, and, you know, it’s like a itch that he can’t scratch.

And it’s hard enough to give him a life without him going through that.

And she did that.

Because if you don’t ever strike that match or do whatever, how will you ever know?

There we go.

Showing all your muscles, huh?

You good?

Ready?

‘One of the tough things about this whole process is that there was this idea that, “Oh, he can do all these wonderful things.”

And then to have to…

Looking at everything that was taking place, then say… that he can’t.’

You got the walk right there, haven’t you?

Alright.

In a sense I kinda felt as though

I was diminishing his value. “Yeah, Derrick can’t do that.”

Pick ’em up and put ’em down.

Pick ’em up.

‘Going through that process of having to recognise that,

“Damn, yeah, he is really disabled.” And that’s fine.’

He can’t do all other things that other people can do.

And that’s perfectly fine because we’re gonna be alright regardless.

OK. (LAUGHS)

Oh, you gonna show them that smile?

Yeah, say, “Here I am.”

The psychiatrist determined that Derrick was deemed

incapable and incompetent of taking care of himself.

Well, I knew.

I knew.

And knowing and accepting it, and just embrace him. Just love him for who he is.

No matter what or how strong he gets, he’s still my child.

He will always have that younger mindset.

And I, you know, he’s 40 years old, and that’s where we are.

(PENSIVE MUSIC)

You OK? (VOCALISING)

And I don’t love him no less, and I don’t love him no more.

He’s my baby.

He… is my baby.

Go ahead.

(MUSIC INTENSIFIES)

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