Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Carer: 'I Fell in Love'; Grandma Guilty of Indecent Dealing

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Carer: 'I Fell in Love'; Grandma Guilty of Indecent Dealing

Article excerpt

Byline: Kathy Sundstrom

A GRANDMOTHER who says she "fell in love" with her severely autistic client at a Sunshine Coast disability services home, has been convicted on two counts of indecent dealing with him.

Martina Susanne Schweiger, who was 51 at the time the offences started with her 21-year-old client in 2011, was given a suspended jail sentence when she faced Maroochydore District Court.

Her victim, who cannot be named, requires 24-hour support for basic personal hygiene, dressing, meal preparation and access to the community.

He has no ability to speak, write or use manual signs to communicate yet Ms Schweiger, a residential care officer, claims she was able to speak with him through "facilitated communication".

That involves a carer sitting with the man, holding his hand to indicate to letters on a board to spell out words.

The process has been discredited by RMIT University psychology professor Dr Alan Hudson, who identified numerous substantial faults and concluded it did not "work" for the young man.

This was accepted by the court, which decided it was not an "accurate or reliable method of communication".

Court documents show Ms Schweiger "felt an instant connection" with the young man, which "over time, became an attraction".

She said he used facilitated communication to tell her that he loved her.

In one instance when the man was running around, unable to settle down, she said she "took her clothes off and stood there before him". …

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