A counselor at the Rainier School in Buckley was allegedly caught sexually assaulting an autistic resident early Sunday morning by another employee.
The counselor is identified as 60 year old Terry Shepard who had a supervisory position. The Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office charged Shepard with second-degree rape on Monday.
“The client is a non-verbal autistic adult with an estimated mental age of an eight-year-old,” wrote Erica Eggertsen of the prosecutor’s office in a legal declaration.
The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) operates the institution. There are 320 adults living at the Rainier School with developmental, physical, and intellectual disabilities.
“It is absolutely abhorrent that someone would do this to one of our residents,” said Evelyn Perez, Assistant Secretary of DSHS Developmental Disabilities Administration. “We are grateful for the quick response by the staff member who witnessed this heinous act and took immediate action.”
In 2015 and 2016 the KING 5 Investigators broadcast a series of reports about the Rainier School and the other three similar institutions in the state of Washington. “Last of the Institutions” revealed that Washington state lags behind 75% of the country in operating four such facilities. Several states operate one or two or have closed all of their institutions for the disabled down altogether. The Dept. of Justice considers the continued institutionalization of those with developmental disabilities to be a form of discrimination, under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Washington remains the last state in the western United States to have no plan in place to downsize or close its institutions.