Home > Uncategorized > Mother, who was charged with abuse after giving son Tylenol and cough syrup, says he is being neglected and isolated in his group home

Mother, who was charged with abuse after giving son Tylenol and cough syrup, says he is being neglected and isolated in his group home

Christine Davidson, who has been charged by the state with abuse after she gave her son prescribed cough syrup and Tylenol, says the real problems her son is facing include isolation and neglect in his group home.

We have joined Christine in expressing concern to the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) about conditions in the residence and a ban on home visits from her son John.

John Davidson is a resident of a group home in Waltham, which is run by WCI, Inc., a corporate provider to DDS. Christine contends that the conditions under which John is now living violate a number of DDS regulations referred to as “standards to promote dignity” (115 CMR 5 et seq.).

Christine is a co-guardian of her son. The other co-guardian, George Papastrat, is Christine’s nephew and lives in North Carolina.

Christine wants to take John back home with her, and John has repeatedly said he wants to come home. That is not being permitted, however. She said John is effectively being confined in his group home with virtually no activities.

As we noted in a recent blog post, we have raised numerous questions about the accuracy of a report written by the Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DPPC), which concluded that Christine abused her son after she gave him an “undetermined” amount of cough syrup and Tylenol last June. Since then, John has been subject to a prohibition on visits home based on the abuse finding.

Christine’s attorney, Thomas Frain, who is also COFAR’s president, has filed an appeal with DPPC of the abuse finding.

Last November, I emailed George Papastrat, John’s other co-guardian, with an explanation of our concerns about the DPPC investigation and its apparent bias against Christine. I have not recieved a reply to my message.

Only person left in the home during the day

Christine said she visited John in his group home yesterday (January 18), and found him sitting alone in the kitchen. She said the other three residents currently living in the home are being taken to day programs.

John no longer has a functioning day program, according to Christine. An Individual Support Plan (ISP) states that he lost his previous day program activities at Jewish Family Chai Works in Waltham in March 2020 because of COVID restrictions.

The ISP states that when the day program reopened on a limited basis in August 2020, John was not alowed to return to it. The ISP does not specify the reason he was not allowed to return.

Christine also said John’s physical therapy services, which he received after fracturing his leg outside his group home in 2019, have been discontinued. Yet, she said, he is still in need of those services.

Personal hygiene allegedly neglected

Christine said she often finds John’s bedroom and the bathroom in the group home to be dirty, and John is frequently unshaven and dirty when she visits him. She provided photographs of his bed, which show several damp spots that she said are urine.

She also sent a photo of what appears to be soiled toilet paper in a waste can in the bathroom. She said the toilet paper contained fecal matter.

Christine filed a complaint with DPPC on December 7 after finding Jonn sitting alone and naked on the floor of his bedroom, apparently after he slid off his wheelchair while under the care of a staff member. The complaint has been referred to the DDS area office for an administrative review, according to a letter sent by DDS to Christine on December 8.

As noted below, many of the conditions Christine described would appear to violate DDS “standards to promote dignity,” including the “opportunity to undergo typical developmental experiences.”

Christine said she believes John is declining physically and mentally in the group home and is severely depressed. “I don’t know if he’ll ever be the same person he was — energetic and engaging,” she said.

DDS doesn’t respond to concerns

On January 10, I sent an email to Joan Thompson, DDS area director, calling her attention to the apparent violations and asking that the Department investigate them.

Thompson responded the following day with a two-sentence email that did not appear to relate to my request. Thompson’s email stated the following:

After review of your request, you would need written authorization from both (co)guardians to release any information.  Without the written authorization, you do not have the authority to make such a request.

Thompson’s message wasn’t signed.

I reiterated my request in a second email on January 12 and copied Gail Gillespie, the DDS director for the Boston Metro Region. I haven’t received a response to that message from either Thompson or Gillespie.

Apparent violations of DDS regulations in group home

Christine said that after his hospitalization, John was kept for months at Tewksbury State Hospital, ostensibly for treatment of a leg injury from a fall outside his group home in 2019. But she said his leg actually got worse at Tewksbury, yet he was discharged to his group home where he now needs a wheelchair.

She said the group home staff does not appear to be encouraging John to get exercise. She added that John wants to get out of his wheelchair, but the staff are not encouraging him to do so or helping him.

When John was discharged from Tewksbury in November, the group home staff was supposed to develop a chart listing weekly activities for him. But Christine said no such chart has been developed for him.

We are concerned that this overall situation may violate a number of DDS standards to promote human dignity, including a number of the “general principles,” which state that services are supposed to be provided in a manner that promotes:

  • The opportunity to undergo typical developmental experiences, provided that the person’s safety and well-being are not unreasonably jeopardized,
  • The opportunity to engage in activities and styles of living which encourage and maintain the integration of the person in the community through individualized social and physical environments, and
  • Opportunities for daily recreational activity and physical exercise, as appropriate to the age and interests of the individual.

The apparent confinement in the group home against John’s stated wishes appears to violate additional DDS standards and other rights that are intended to promote or include:

  • Self-determination to the person’s fullest capacity,
  • Least restrictive care, and
  • The right to be visited and to visit others under circumstances that are conducive to friendships and relationships.

ISP specified activities 

John’s Individual Support Plans (ISPs) in both 2019 and 2020 discussed his enthusiasm for his day program at Chai Works. As noted, he lost that program in 2020.

John’s 2020 ISP stated that while at the day program, which he had attended since 2012, he participated in numerous activities including dance, yoga, and martial arts. He was also taken on community outings.

The 2020 ISP stated that after the day program was initially shut down in March 2020, John was able to participate in online groups connected with the program a couple of days a week for an hour or two at a time. Accoring to the ISP, John needed help logging in to the online sessions.

Christine said she was told at both Tewksbury State Hospital and at the group home that they were too short-staffed to help him log into the day program sessions. As a result, John has not been able to participate in his day program, even online, for at least the past six months, she said.

Additional conditions in group home

Christine also said that in addition to the problems with cleanliness in the home, she discovered that other residents’ laundry is repeatedly put in John’s dresser drawers even though all of his clothing is labeled.

The overall situation appears to violate the principle specifying “freedom from discomfort, distress, and deprivation which arise from an unresponsive and inhumane environment.” There also appears to be a violation of John’s additional right to “individual storage space for personal use.”

Further, according to Christine, John’s cell phones have repeatedly gone missing, first at Tewksbury and later at the group home. As a result, he is unable to make or receive calls directly from Christine or anyone else.

Christine said she has also been told not to call the group home after 6 p.m. All of that appears to violate the right of individuals to have “reasonable access to a telephone and opportunities to make and receive confidential calls…”

John’s 2020 ISP and an August 2020 staff memo noted that John liked to talk to his mother on the phone, so much so that a protocol was established to end the calls at 10 p.m.

DDS needs to change course

In my January 10 email to DDS Area Director Thompson, I requested that DDS revisit and reverse the prohibition placed on John’s visits home. As noted, I have not received a response to that email.

We are also requesting that the area office expand its review of Christine’s complaint in December after she found her son on the floor of his room. We are urging the Department to examine the overall conditions under which John is currently living and the potential violations of the Department’s regulatory standards.

  1. Anonymous
    January 19, 2022 at 11:57 am

    This is really sad for that young man. The isolation and neglect in private group homes is a disgrace. Our loved ones need our help.

    Safeguards, such as periodic unannounced home visits by a team of human rights professionals should investigate parents complaints at group homes for violations that are overlooked, and ignored by State agencies..


  2. Patricia
    January 19, 2022 at 4:33 pm

    Thanks for the update. Hopefully those in charge will realize just how much damage has been done to John’s physical and mental
    health. As you note, he has rights that are being ignored. John is a very kind, gentle and caring young man who has lived thru unbelievable circumstances over the last few years and is slowly being worn down by those is charge ignoring his request to just be free to see and be with his mother.


  3. Gloria
    January 19, 2022 at 7:46 pm

    Johnny deserves to live a life that is engaging, healthy, stimulating and loving. I certainly hope and pray that he will be able to see his mom, my sister Christine, whenever he wants to. Johnny needs to feel safe and valuable. All of his life Christine has been johnny’s biggest cheerleader. She has had him involved in various activities that would help him grow. My nephew Johnny is a kindhearted person. My sons have always admired Johnny for his accomplishments. We would watch in amazement as he would swim carelessly in the ocean. My sister has advocated for his basic rights since he was an infant. There is no greater love ❤️ in Christines life than that for her son John.

    Johnny needs to be active to the best of his abilities. I’m praying for the best life that Johnny can have !


  4. Gloria
    January 19, 2022 at 8:03 pm

    My nephew Johnny deserves to live with dignity, in a clean, stimulating loving place. My sister Christine has always provided Johnny with the best life possible. Soon after John was born, Christine researched every possible avenue that would enable the best life for her and her son John . There is an extremely strong bond between this mother and son. I pray that Johnny will be afforded the cleanest, healthiest most loving life possible.


    January 19, 2022 at 10:58 pm

    These state agencies have way to much power and they all stick together the charges put on Christine are just another way to take her God given rights away as John’s mother on the strength of a phone call to a Judge because she didn’t agree with DDS on a discussion about John’s group home.
    This to me is an abuse of power Christine is not an unfit mother and doesn’t need a co guardian and her rights need to be restored after all John is the one who suffers the most and his rights to return home should be met.
    It appears to me all they care about is funding, funding, funding and show no signs of meeting John’s needs.


  6. Sara
    January 20, 2022 at 11:16 am

    This is very sad how this once and vibrant young man has been treated. If this was my child and I had walked into his bedroom and saw him sitting on the floor naked my first instinct would’ve been to have called 911 and had them pick him up off the floor. This would’ve created/started a paper trail of documentation. My heart aches for this poor mother and what they are putting her through because she’s a strong advocate for her son. They sure don’t like you when you challenge them which is evident by the false accusations against Christine.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Amy
    January 21, 2022 at 10:11 am

    My sister, Christine, has been Johnny’s biggest advocate since the day he was born. She has given him a life full of hope and challenges. For years John participated in Special Olympics winning numerous medals in the swim competition. Watching Johnny graduate from high school was another highlight in his life that would not have happened had it not been for Christine’s love and guidance. Christine has always put Johnny’s needs first and foremost. They share a special bond full of trust and love. I pray that there will soon be comfort and peace once again in their lives.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jo Ann Provo
    January 24, 2022 at 10:22 am

    I totally concur with all the comments. I have known Christine all my life and she has championed for Johnny all his life. The situation of the past few years has taken a drastic toll on them both. These agencies need to be accountable for their gross mistreatment of a person in their care. I’m betting Johnny isn’t alone. Thank you, COFAR, for getting the word out there that the MA DSS system desperately needs delving into.

    Liked by 1 person

    February 16, 2022 at 11:04 am

    Christine’s lawyer needs. to get an injunction over to Judge Casey.
    Judge Casey is the Chief Probate Judge of Middlesex County her lawyer needs to bring attention to the beginning of this whole BS telephone court case and the unconditional way this was handled with state lawyer Maria Belafonte and untrue information that was given to Judge William McSweeny which led to John’s Mother losing her Guardianship of 43 years she was never asked if she wanted a lawyer present on her behalf and she never even got a chance to tell her side of it because they disconnected her from the phone call I ask is this still America.
    Her nephew George doesn’t know what the hell he is doing he has savere PTSD and is being mislead by DDS.
    Wake up ! John Davidson wants to be home with his Mother and she wants him home as John’s Doctor said in a letter he has watched Christine take care of John for 25 years in an outstanding manner no one can compare.
    What is this all about is DDS running out of people like John
    To fill there group homes .
    I believe so.

    Liked by 1 person

      February 16, 2022 at 11:17 am

      I meant to say the unconstitutional
      Way the original telephone court case was handled.

      Liked by 1 person

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