For those of you who don't know, I teach a program for students with moderate disabilities that focuses on independent living skills, community skills and vocational skills. This year I have some of the highest functioning kids that I've ever taught before, however my students are still vulnerable and easy to prey on.... and it has happened. It just eats me up and I can't stop thinking about it, so I thought I'd share what happened.
Yesterday one of my students with autism got off the bus at the wrong stop and my classroom aide asked him what he was doing at that bus stop. It turns out that the last few weeks D (we'll call him that) has been getting coerced by a man on the bus. D is on the same bus every Tuesday and Thursday after he leaves his job site and travels back to our class site for lunch and our afternoon meeting. This man is also on that same bus and has obviously worked D for awhile now to get money out of him. So, on Tuesdays he takes D's debit card (and any money that he has that day) and tells him he'll bring the card back to him on Thursdays. And he does. And D trusts him each week because the man tells D that he is "friendly" and that D can "trust" him. So the last 3 weeks this man has become D's "friend" and D even goes into the local liquor store with the stranger to get money out of the ATM for his new "friend".
Basically his man has totally coerced my student and has been working him the last 3 weeks. The man told D that he'd meet him back on the bus tomorrow (just as he has the last few weeks) to give back the debit card (and to probably take whatever money he has on him). I spent all morning with D and the police officer to get all the details that we could get. The problem is that it is SO hard to figure out exactly what D is saying and the difference between fact, and him saying what he thinks we want to hear. It's amazing what details D remembers such as what the man's shoes and jacket look like - but it's still hard to get all the details straight. It is shocking to me that D would do this, and even more shocking that there are evil people out there that would prey on a young adult with a disability. We are constantly teaching these skills and it's a lesson for me that the teaching is never over, no matter what you think is already learned.
I'll keep you posted as to what goes down tomorrow, but the police are planning a little sting on the bus to hopefully catch this asshole. Keep your fingers crossed.