Notice of Press Conference Thursday, October 12, 2000 (mentions Mary Jane Nason Cornyn)

Date: 2000-10-12
Source: Business Wire

Notice of Press Conference Thursday, October 12, 11 AM At the Law Offices of Schroeter Goldmark & Bender 810 3rd Avenue, Seattle.

Business Editors/Legal Writers


DSHS and a state licensed boarding-home will pay a severely retarded young woman and her guardians $935,000 in a court-approved settlement.

The woman was placed at the boarding home by DSHS in October of 1995 for a "respite-stay." While there, she became pregnant by another disabled resident, an ex-convict who had previously tried to solicit sex from residents at foster home, from which he was expelled. The woman gave birth to the child, a boy, who is also disabled.

Attorneys Mark Leemon and Croil Anderson, from the Seattle firm Schroeter Goldmark & Bender, and Tacoma attorney and co-counsel Robert Krinsky represented the disabled woman and her guardians in the lawsuit against DSHS and Munn's Manor, Inc., proprietor of Harmony Glen, a state licensed boarding home located in Tacoma. According to attorney Mark Leemon, "This was a particularly tragic situation. DSHS placed a known criminal and sexual manipulator at Harmony Glen, a facility specifically designed to care for vulnerable people, and then provided basically no supervision." Attorneys filed the lawsuit in 1999 in Pierce County Superior Court. Trial was set to begin October 23.

The sexual exploitation of Mary Jane was the last thing her guardians wanted for the young woman for whom life had always been difficult. Mary Jane was born in Mexico and adopted as a child by the Nason family, a family from Oregon. In 1991, after experiencing difficulties with the Nasons, Mary Jane came to live with Bob and Linda Cornyn of Puyallup.

By the fall of 1995, Mary Jane's behavior had become increasingly problematic. The Cornyns released Mary Jane to DSHS for respite care. She was admitted to the Harmony Glen boarding home in October of 1995, and remained there until August of 1996.

In July of 1996, doctors determined that Mary Jane was pregnant. The father, mentally impaired as a result of a car accident, was an ex-convict with a history of mental illness and a record of drug abuse and attempted assault. DSHS knew of the man's criminal history. The agency also knew that he had previously been sexually manipulative with residents at a foster home, a facility with more supervision than Harmony Glen. According to attorney Robert Krinsky, "The State should have realized the inappropriateness of placing such a person in a generally unsupervised home with many vulnerable residents." The male resident no longer resides at Harmony Glen.

The Cornyns have taken-in or adopted literally dozens of needy children since the 1970's. Currently, they are caring for nearly 30 disabled children in their home. Mary Jane is the oldest. Mary Jane's child is the youngest.

Mary Jane, who also suffers from cerebral palsy, is incapable of raising her child, though she does enjoy playing with him. The Cornyns hope to formally adopt Mary Jane, once her immigration status is clarified.

The $935,000 settlement included $500,000 paid by Harmony Glen and $435,000 from DSHS. The money from both settlements will be used to provide life-long care for Mary Jane and her son.

Mr. and Mrs. Cornyn and their attorneys will address the media, and answer questions from reporters, at the press conference.

For further information, contact the attorneys noted above, or contact India Simmons, PR Ink, at 425/742-6926.


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