Home > Uncategorized > After being cleared of abuse, mother continues to face restrictions in contact with her son

After being cleared of abuse, mother continues to face restrictions in contact with her son

More than a year after the state rescinded an abuse charge against Christine Davidson for allegedly having given her son too much Tylenol and cough syrup during a weekend visit home, the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) is continuing to restrict her contact with her son, she says.

Christine said DDS officials and managers of the corporate provider running her son John’s group home in Waltham are continuing to restrict the amount of time on weekends that John can come home to visit her.

Christine’s case appears to fit a pattern in which DDS and its providers have placed restrictions or bans on family contact with loved ones in the DDS system for questionable reasons. (See here, here, here, and here.)

Christine said she has been told by two of the managers of the corporate provider, WCI, Inc., that “it depends on how I behave” as to whether John can stay home with her for more than one night on weekends. She said the implication is that she can’t be trusted in caring for her son, particularly in giving medications to him.

Christine Davidson and her son John

Christine said the continuing lack of trust in her appears to stem from an abuse allegation against her, which the state Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DPPC) had initially determined was “substantiated.” The agency later reversed that determination.

Christine faced the abuse charge after she was unable to wake John up in the morning of June 21, 2021. She called 911 that morning, and John was brought to the Newton Wellesley Hospital emergency room. He quickly recovered after being given oxygen.

In an investigative report issued in October 2021, the DPPC concluded that John’s hypoxemia or low oxygen level had likely been caused by Christine because she had allegedly given him an “undetermined” amount of cough syrup and Tylenol that weekend, and had failed to have him use a prescribed breathing assistance machine at night.

COFAR examined the DPPC’s investigative report and reported in January 2022 that the Tylenol and cough syrup with codeine that Christine had provided her son had been prescribed by his primary care doctor, and that there was no evidence presented by the DPPC that she did not follow the prescriptions. COFAR also noted that the group home had, at the time, failed to deliver the required nighttime breathing equipment for John to Christine’s home or to train her in how to use it.

Christine was represented in appealing the abuse substantiation by Thomas J. Frain, COFAR’s president, who is an attorney.

Following the initial substantiation of the abuse charge in October 2021, all visits to Christine’s home by John were suspended, and all of Christine’s visits to the group home were required to be supervised. John was not even allowed to go home to visit Christine on Christmas in 2021.

But in February 2022, the DPPC, in a rare reversal, essentially agreed with COFAR’s findings, and changed the abuse designation from “substantiated” to “unsubstantiated.” In a letter rescinding the abuse charge, a DPPC assistant general counsel stated that he “(did) not find that the conclusions of the (investigative) Report were supported by the weight of the evidence.”

Home subject to cockroach infestation

Christine has, meanwhile, continued to blow the whistle on allegedly poor care and conditions in the group home. Last year, two medical specialists backed up her claims that her son was not receiving needed physical therapy in the residence and was declining physically there. Her allegations about those issues, however, do not appear to have been investigated by the DPPC.

In February of this year,  John’s group home was shut down for a month due to a cockroach infestation, leading DDS to order WCI to assess all of its group homes for “any hazards.” During the shutdown, John and four other residents were relocated to a hotel in Woburn.

Christine said that both she and her son had repeatedly complained to WCI in previous months about the roaches and about other allegedly unhygienic conditions in the residence.

Blame placed on Christine

Christine said John’s clinical team, which includes DDS and provider employees, has continued to treat her as if she is not responsible enough to care for her son without continuing restrictions and supervision.

Christine said that after the group home was reopened in March following the insect infestation, the clinical team permitted John to stay overnight at her home only on one night each weekend. She said the group home staff would drop him off each Saturday at 11 a.m. at her house, and pick him up on Sunday at 7 p.m. Yet, she said, John didn’t want to return to the group home on those Sunday nights.

This past weekend, the clinical team agreed to begin alternating between one-night and two-night weekend visits home for John. But Christine said those decisions have been made without her or John’s input, and that the clinical team does not appear to take John’s preferences into account. The team decisions, she said, “are an insult to John and to me too. I’ve done everything I could for him, all his life.”

Christine said the clinical team decisions are not in writing, but have been conveyed to her by WCI management personnel.

Decisions are made in conjunction with co-guardian

Christine said that while she has no input into the clinical team decisions, a nephew of hers, who was appointed as John’s co-guardian, is regularly consulted in the decision-making process.

Christine said DDS petitioned in probate court in May of 2020 to remove her as her son’s sole guardian after she got into a dispute with the Department over the placement of her son in what was then a new group home.

In a settlement of the matter, Christine was allowed to remain as co-guardian, and her nephew, George Papastrat, who lives in North Carolina, was appointed as John’s second co-guardian, with all medical and residential decision making powers.

Christine said that whenever she requests changes in John’s placement or asks for increased visitation, she is told by DDS that Papastrat must agree to it. But she said she feels she has no influence on Papastrat.

While Christine may not have formal decision-making power under the co-guardianship decree, it is clear that she has her son’s best interests at heart and that she has always fought for adequate care and services for him. It also appears that the clinical team does not fully understand the severity of the problems with care and conditions in the group home.

We think that at a minimum, the members of John’s clinical team should rethink their presumptions regarding Christine’s ability to care for her son, and she should be consulted in all decisions regarding his care. Moreover, there is no reason, as far as we can see, to continue to impose restrictions on Christine’s contact with her son.

  1. Karen Faiola
    May 16, 2023 at 12:50 pm

    DPPC considers keeping family members from the individual, abuse. Once I locate the actual statute I will post it.


    May 16, 2023 at 3:31 pm

    Who are these people making these decisions I personally called DPPC a month or so before the insect infestation and complained to them about the bad conditions of John’s group home at Kendall park so they sent someone to investigate after this I received a letter stating all was well and then came the insect infestation.
    This so called investigater should be removed from there position but that won’t happen but if Christine doesn’t follow there ridicules guidelines she and her son get written repamands as far as her co-guardian he just goes along with what ever DDS says.
    This is going on three years now when is something going to be done John is being treated like he is in prison and to Tom Frain when are you going to stand up for your client and get this case appealed and get me up on the stand I’m not afraid of DDS Lawyer maria Blanca forte I will tell the judge the truth not the stories made up by her or her co – workers.


  3. May 16, 2023 at 9:05 pm

    Clearly Christine cares and loves her son . In fact wasn’t Christine the only one who reported the roaches? Why didn’t staff they were everywhere, even in her sons wheelchair . DDS should be ashamed of themselves for treating this mother so disrespectful. DDS is suppose to be helpful making sure their clients are being treated with respect and that they have their human rights protected. They are the ones with the training . It is questionable why when parents ask that their loved ones be safe these professionals do all they can to retaliate by doing nothing . Time to reconsider their own actions.


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