Bailey’s Law now! Hold criminals accountable for victimizing the developmentally disabled!
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We cannot allow criminals to get away with the death of their victims.
My 19 year old autistic son, Bailey, committed suicide on 7-31-17, my birthday of all days. After nearly 20 years of complete family devotion and cultivating our lives in support, contemplation and preparation of his each new life phase, new stage, new challenge, and new triumph our lives were completely and irrevocably upended in the span of 8 minutes.
Bailey had many friends. He was kind, funny, caring, generous, gentle, down to earth, and creative. He was an artist, a lover of history, and had compassion for all living things. He was a teacher his whole life as much as he was a student of it. Bailey made me stronger, made me determined, made me timely, made me adjustable, made me more understanding...and it was Bailey that made me an advocate for kids with special needs for all these years. Of course, his 3 siblings also helped make me, and him, over the years...we all made each other. Our family has always been very tight. Being a single mom the last 16 years enabled me to make my children my world, and show them we are a team. I’ve tried to give them everything I am and everything I have within me, with intention. But despite everything I’d, we’d, put in over the years my son, their brother, is gone...less then 8 minutes after leaving my side.
Bailey resorted to suicide 7 days after being a victim of a financial crime, 4 days after I realized he was victimized, and less than 5 hours of being asked to ID one of the perpetrators. He was preyed upon, betrayed, and taken advantage of by a girl he knew for years and had recently befriended him. This girl connected her male friend to my son under the guise of helping them cash a check. From what I’ve been told by State Police, Bailey was hesitant to help them, unsure of whether or not the request was legitimate, and she assured my son that the request was fine and then promised him, I believe, $200 from the proceeds for his assistance. I suspect Bailey provided them with his bank card and his PIN number. On 7-24-17 the male deposited a $1675.00 fraudulent check at an atm in Highland, NY and then immediately withdrew $200 (the amount fronted with a check hold); this was caught on atm bank video. I realized there was a problem on Thursday the 27th when I noted on our joint account both the deposit and withdrawal as well as the $200 withdrawal ultimately being pulled from my separate account. Bailey was learning banking and I would transfer his disability money to the joint account so he would learn about money management, budgeting, grocery shopping, etc. Bailey was devastated over the loss. We connected with local police on the 27th, who then directed us to the nearest state troopers on the 28th, who in turn directed us to State Troopers in Highland on 7-29-17 where we filed a complaint. Later on that Saturday, my youngest son told me he overheard his brother Bailey on the phone after hearing of the banking problem on Thursday, extremely upset over the financial loss and insisting on the return of funds. On Monday, 7-31-17 the investigator came to our house at 12:30 to see if Bailey could ID the male in the bank video. Bailey claimed he did not know the person and by his reaction I believe he didn’t. At 5:16pm he left our home stating he was going for a walk to draw; this was not unlike him as his executive processing speed is slower than many and he’d use walks or drawing to manage stresses. By 5:30 I heard the emergency response sirens and ran down our street, because I never wanted my kids around the chaos when EMS was in the area, and of course I wanted to count the safety of my chicks. The area they were responding to is a nuisance area that has had more than it’s fair share of fires....but there was no fire truck, only medical response. My son had hung himself in the woods less than a block from our home. The next day I was presented with a note he’d written; he clearly believed he’d done something very wrong in trusting the wrong person.
No law enforcement involved in this case believes that Bailey had the faculty to understand what was happening, or the complexities that he was a victim, and neither does any of his family nor his longstanding therapist. There is no doubt in my mind that he merely thought he was helping someone.
Both accused, at this point, will only be charged minimally; one with grand larceny 4th and the other with Endangering a disabled person 1st, both class E non violent felonies. Theoretically they could each get probation. They have each since been arrested for other crimes; her on drug charges in October 2017 and him for killing a 16 year old with his car after an argument in Yonkers in December 2017. The male is being held without bail in Westchester and has yet to be charged for our case. The female was arrested and arraigned for this case but was granted release on $2000 cash/$4000 bond.
I am sickened over what may be obvious to you at this point, that the charges do not reflect their role in the death of my son.
People with disabilities, including autism, are among our most vulnerable community members. It seems so unjust that a charge of endangering specifically relates to affecting the mental well-being of a vulnerable person yet they are not charged with the actual consequences of this criminal action.
I’m currently working with our local representatives to start the process of pushing for new legislation in the state to hold perpetrators fully accountable for the consequences of their actions.
The law for Endangering in NY currently states:
“Under our law, a person is guilty of Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person in the First Degree when he or she knowingly acts in a manner likely to be injurious to the physical, mental or moral welfare of a person who is unable to care for himself or herself because of physical disability, mental disease or defect. The term "knowingly” has its own special meaning in our law. I will now give you the meaning of that term. A person KNOWINGLY acts in a manner likely to be injurious to the physical, mental or moral welfare of a person who is unable to care for himself or herself because of physical disability, mental disease or defect when that person is aware that he or she is acting in such manner. Actual harm to the incompetent or physically disabled person need not result.”
Currently under our criminal laws culpability for a persons suicide rests on the aspect of “aiding and abetting”, or, in practical terms, specifically aiding, directing or encouraging the suicide.
This MUST change. Those that would intentionally cultivate an environment and/or circumstances specifically to use people with disabilities to commit a crime, need to be held accountable for the full range of actual damages they cause, including the death of their victim. We need #BaileysLaw to firmly establish...
If a defendant is charged with endangering in the first degree, or another crime related and/or connected to a charge of endangering in the first degree (as in coconspirators/codefendant), whereby the events result in the victim’s suicide within reasonable proximity of the crime, defendants should be criminally charged for the victim’s death.
I urge you to support Bailey’s Law. It will not help my family but it will help many others.
To learn more about my beloved Bailey you can visit the guestbook at https://m.legacy.com/obituaries/poughkeepsiejournal/obituary.aspx?n=&pid=186269333&referrer=0&preview=True
To follow our journey, visit https://m.facebook.com/DearBaileyLoveMom/
Gae Marie Cannon, Poughkeepsie, NY
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