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Tuesday 21 Nov 2017

Man with Autism Faces a Reduced Sentence


The article below is about a man who was convicted of groping multiple women who subsequently had his sentence reduced due to his diagnosis of autism. My reason for bringing this article to your attention is not to discuss this case in particular, but to bring up real issues teens and adults with autism face. Due to deficits in social skills, misunderstandings about social boundaries and uncertainty around issues of right and wrong, individuals with autism can be at risk for finding themselves in trouble with the law. It is critical that all individuals with autism are taught, in a very clear manner, about sex, sexual feelings, sexual behavior, and what is and is not acceptable behavior socially and legally. Our society has a tendency to avoid conversations about sex, masturbation and intimacy but for individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities this is a vital conversation which can help avoid trouble later on in life. Here are some additional resources to help guide you in talking to your child or working with your students:

Sex, Sexuality And The Autism Spectrum

Love, Sex and Long-Term Relationships: What People With Asperger Syndrome Really Really Want

Making Sense of Sex: A Forthright Guide to Puberty, Sex and Relationships for People with Asperger’s Syndrome

Girls Growing Up on the Autism Spectrum: What Parents and Professionals Should Know About the Pre-teen and Teenage Years

Asperger’s Syndrome And Sexuality: From Adolescence Through Adulthood

This article was recently published on a Sheboygan news radio website: MADISON, WI (WTAQ) – Former locomotive engineer Robert Rickaby will spend some time behind bars, but the 15 year sentence he could have received will be much shorter due to a recent diagnosis of Asperger syndrome, a form of autism.

Rickaby admitted running through downtown Madison, and UW-Madison campus area grabbing and fondling six to eight women.

The diagnosis suggests Rickaby perception of events can be altered by the condition. He was given a one-year sentence, but will continue his mental health treatment after six months.

Dane County Judge Sarah O’Brien told the defendant he had no right to treat women the way he did. She said, though he isn’t going to prison this time, a repeat of the behavior will result in a prison sentence.

Last August, Rickaby admits he groped several women.

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