The Daily Moth 3-1-18

March 2, 2018

Scranton Deaf School Settles Lawsuit with Parents Who Claimed Sex Abuse Cover-Up; Over $2,000 Raised For Deaf Children to Watch “Black Panther”; Laura Moser Apologizes for Using “Deaf-Mute” Term; Anecdote about Nanette Fabray and AG Bell Association; Deaf Georgia Man Dies After Being Hit By Car, Leaves Behind Pregnant Wife and Child; Deaf Teen Pleads Guilty to Causing Mayhem in Melbourne, Australia

Hello, welcome to the Daily Moth! It is Thursday, March 1. Two months are already gone in 2018. Ready for news? 




The Scranton School for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Children in Pennsylvania has reached a settlement with parents of a student who sued them in 2011 accusing their staff of not acting to intervene or report alleged sexual assault from an older student in the dormitory. 


I got this information from local news “The Times Tribune.” The case went on jury trial last week with four ASL interpreters at the Lackawanna County Court. The trial was expect to last until the end of this week, but ended Monday night with the settlement. 


According to the article, the incident was in 2009 when the student (a girl) was 8. The alleged abuser was 13, also a girl.


The parents’ lawyer said the assault happened in the bathroom and continued for six months and stopped after the parents took her to the hospital, where she told the doctor what happened. The parents’ lawyer said the school covered this up. 


But the lawyer representing the school said there was no reasonable suspicion of child abuse, which is why there was no report. She said the school’s staff and supervisors acted appropriately. 


School lawyers also said the doctor led the student on with inappropriate questioning. 


I reached out to the leadership team of Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, which oversees the Scranton School, for comment. 


Their CEO, Steve Farmer, said during their investigation, they found the student’s claims to be unsubstantiated (no evidence of it). 


He said once the trial started, the witnesses called were favorable to the school’s defense, which provided an opportunity for them to settle the case reasonably. 


Steve said the school can’t discuss the terms of the settlement. He said the responsibility for the health and welfare of the students is always uppermost in their actions. 


So, that’s the school’s comments on the case. 


One additional note — the article referred to court documents that said the alleged perpetrator (abuser) was later adjudicated delinquent (meaning she was found guilty by a judge, presumably in juvenile court). 


I asked Steve if this was related to the case and whether the school expelled the student or not. He said he couldn’t answer because she is a minor protected under FERPA laws. 


Links to Times Tribune articles: / 




The movie “Black Panther”  is a huge success, with over $750 million in the box office worldwid. But not everybody has the opportunity to watch the movie. 


One Deaf man from San Francisco, William Albright, who is a software engineer, has raised over $2,000 dollars on GoFundMe to buy tickets so deaf children in the Bay Area can watch the movie. 


William said the movie inspired him because of it’s black cultural significance. But when he watched the movie at an AMC Theater, he was frustrated by the captioning devices, which did not work perfectly.


He ended up getting free tickets for future showings. So he thought of giving it to deaf kids, but then someone suggested him to start a GoFundMe similar to other fundraising campaigns online — the #BlackPantherChallenge, but for deaf children. 


When he set it up only two days ago, the donations immediately started pouring in, exceeding the $1,500 goal. 


William is now reaching out to local movie theaters in the Bay Area to set up open-captioned showings so the kids won’t have to deal with any technical difficulties. 


There are two scheduled showings in the coming weeks, with more on the way, for children at the California School for the Deaf, Fremont and possibly from other programs. The cost of transportation will be covered as well. 


William said he is very grateful for the community support. 


You can still donate if you want, at the link below. William also supports the idea of other deaf communities doing a “#BlackPantherChallenge” for local deaf children. 






Yesterday I reported about a Texas Congressional candidate, Laura Moser, who used the term, “deaf-mute” in an article she wrote in 2014. 


This got the attention of Laura and her campaign team. She has apologized — she sent me an email. I will sign what she said. 



Dear Alex,


I apologize for the deeply offensive language in my 2014 Washingtonian article. My choice of language was extremely inappropriate and insensitive, and I regret it deeply. I try to be an ally, but I am still learning.


I just wanted to make clear that, as someone who lived across the street from Gallaudet for 5 years, I had wonderful relationships with many members of the deaf community. This (terrible) article was about a single individual with a serious drug problem. I will never use such language again.


My sincere apologies,






I replied to her thanking her for taking the time to contact me and for her apology, and told her I would share it with you. 


My report was picked up by other media — shared by reporters from MSNBC and The Hill. So this is getting around, and hopefully more know that the term, “deaf-mute” is offensive and should never be used, especially by a lawmaker. 




On Monday I reported the death of deaf/hard-of-hearing actress Nanette Fabray and told about her ability to sign and her advocacy with the deaf community. 


One person, Mickey Jones, and her wife, emailed me an anecdote about her. He said she knew how to sign and that she hated the AG Bell Association. 


He said back in the 60’s, when Nanette was a very famous actress, there was nobody using ASL on TV. Signing on TV was looked down by many. 


Nanette asked a TV network to sing a song in ASL on one of her appearances because she wanted to be a pioneer for signing on TV. 


The song was taped and heavily advertised. But on the day it was to be aired, there was a national tragedy, so the network pulled it off and focused on covering the news. 


But the next day, the TV network and Nanette received thousands of letters from viewers who complained about her signing, saying her performance was awful. (Even though it was never aired). 


Mickey said AG Bell members wrote the letters and mailed it in advance, and they got caught with their pants down. 


Mickey said Nanette deserves a pat on the back for playing her part in making ASL acceptable on TV and society in general. 


Wow, what a story, those times were different, but in a lot of ways it’s still the same. Thanks for sharing, Mickey! 



Two weeks ago, a Deaf man, Mickey Jay Saenz, died after he was hit by a vehicle as he walked on a road near to his family home in Snelling, Georgia (near Atlanta). 


He was 25 years old and leaves behind his Deaf wife, MaryAnn who is pregnant, and a 3-year old daughter. They got married last year. 


Mickey graduated from the Texas School for the Deaf in 2011. His funeral was on Sunday. 


The family has set up a GoFundMe to cover the cost of funeral expenses and to support the immediate needs of the widow and her children. 


I read several comments by people on social media who showed grief at his passing. Rest in peace, Mickey. 


The link to support the family is above or in the transcript. 






In Australia, a deaf 15-year old boy has pled guilty to charges for an incident in September when he drove his father’s green SUV wildly in Melbourne’s city center, almost hitting pedestrians and cyclists.


When the SUV stopped, he got out and was dressed in all black, “combat gear” — with a helmet and boots, and carrying a knife and a bicycle pump, and a backpack. He walked around on the streets, apparently trying to intimidate people. 


Several police officers approached him, one spraying with with pepper spray. He wouldn’t back down, charging at one officer, who fell backwards, but he was quickly contained by other officers, who tasered him. 


He was in custody for three months and released in January. He recently appeared in court. 


The court said he was “deaf and mute” (inappropriate term) — and that he had mental health issues. They said he was isolated at home, neglected, and not getting enough food. 


There were more serious charges dropped — including attempted murder. This was not considered terrorism. He pled guilty to reckless conduct endangering life, assaulting police, and driving unlicensed. 


Media articles said it is doubtful he will be detained, more likely getting probation. 


Many applauded the police for not shooting and killing him, even though they didn’t know if he had a bomb or something in his backpack. 


Very scary incident, and I hope the boy learns to never do this again, and gets the mental health support he needs.




That is all for this week. Have a wonderful weekend and stay with the light! 



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