The father of a mentally disabled woman from Sebastian took several deep breaths as he spoke Monday about his daughter being sexually battered at least twice at a Rockledge group home, leading her to birth a son in 2015.
Robert Blanchard, a Purple Heart decorated Vietnam veteran, and family attorney Kevin Smith announced they will file a lawsuit this week against the facility, Bridges Inc. Last week, Brevard County Sheriff’s deputies arrested 58-year-old Willie Fred Shorter, on a charge of lewd and lascivious battery of a disabled adult.
“We will take every action to hold the facility responsible,” Smith said.
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The family of a mentally disabled woman from Sebastian who was sexually assaulted at least twice at a group home in Rockledge will file a lawsuit this week against the facility. The assaults led the woman to birth a child. Deputies last week arrested caregiver Willie Fred Shorter on a charge of lewd and lascivious battery of a disabled adult. Shorter was released Feb. 7 from the Brevard County Jail on $15,000 bond. Shorter is awaiting trial for the charges against him. #VeroNews
Posted by Nick Samuel on Monday, February 11, 2019
Shorter – who worked as a caregiver at the facility during the incidents – was released Feb. 7 from the Brevard County Jail on $15,000 bond. Forensic evidence, including DNA, confirmed that Shorter was the father of the child, officials said.
“He’s a filthy, vile rat. He used her like a piece of meat,” said Blanchard, who held back tears as he spoke during the 1:30 p.m. Monday news conference held at Capt Hiram’s, 1606 Indian River Drive, Sebastian. “We expected her to be taken care of. We felt safe when we placed her there. It was a blow-off when the home said it didn’t happen.”
The Blanchard family, including the 43-year-old disabled woman and her son, 3-year-old Robby, were in attendance. The family is taking care of little Robby, who loves to hug on his grandparents, Blanchard said.
“He’s a beautiful child,” Blanchard said. “I named him after my other son, Robert the 2nd.”
But even with beauty, the pain from knowing Shorter assaulted Blanchard’s daughter still hurts, Blanchard said. Law enforcement could not arrest Shorter years earlier because they did not have probable cause to get his DNA, Smith said.
Blanchard’s daughter suffers from epilepsy, a nervous system disorder where a person can experience severe convulsions with loss of consciousness.
Blanchard’s daughter had been at the facility for 10 years, while Shorter worked as a caregiver. The family said Shorter had been transferred to another facility after the woman became pregnant.
Shorter is awaiting trial for the charges against him.
This story will be updated.