Update for David Italiano
Though it has been several months since MindFreedom International (MFI) in conjunction with Roads to Freedom Center for Independent Living (RTFCIL) issued a Shield update on behalf of David Italiano, we are not giving up – not by a long shot! See our Call To Action below.
Work on behalf of David Italiano has been progressing behind the scenes and we have a lot to share.
Below is an update of Shield developments and actions you can take to help us find and free David. Helping David will help us all!
Our joy at finding David in January turned quickly to disappointment, when to the best of our knowledge, David was moved from the Shirley House, his last known placement. David was moved presumably because his supporters located him and were briefly able to visit with him privately.
Before his supporters were asked to leave, they were able to confirm, once again, David’s wish to move back to his home.
1) Two weeks ago, Pennsylvania Council for Independent Living (PCIL), with six other interested parties filed an Amicus Brief to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, with help from David Ferleger and other civil rights attorneys, challenging the denial of David’s appeal. As you may recall, David’s attorney fought unsuccessfully to appeal David’s plenary guardianship. A copy of our latest effort to find and free David -the Amicus Brief- can be viewed as a Word document HERE and as a PDF HERE.
2) A copy of the press release sent out by PCIL announcing the filing of the Amicus Brief can be viewed HERE.
3) Local press coverage of this development can be viewed HERE.
4) MFI, with help from RTFCIL, formed a workgroup that meets weekly. The work-group includes MFI, RTFCIL, PCIL, disability and civil rights attorneys, activists from Pennsylvania ADAPT, Center for Estate Administration Reform (CEAR), and Kasem Cares. If you wish to be involved in this workgroup, please email MFI at email@example.com. We could really use help with a volunteer who is adept at social media!
5) Last month, MFI hosted a public meeting on the topic of Supported Decision Making during our regular educational series: ‘Judi’s Room’, named after Judi Chamberlin, a well-known disability rights activist. Judi’s Room is free and open to the public and takes place on the first Wednesday of every month. If you wish to receive invitations to Judi’s Room, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Add me to Judi’s Room’ in the subject heading.
In ‘Supported Decision Making’ guest presenter attorney Jonathan Martinis Esq., informed us that out of fifty states, only fourteen formally recognize supportive decision making as an alternative to guardianship/conservatorship. The American Bar Association and many national organizations on aging have called for sweeping reforms to the system of guardianship/conservatorship. MFI aspires to promote supported decision making as a viable alternative not only to abusive guardianships but also to forced psychiatry!
We have much work to do and to succeed, we are building a coalition which we hope will not only provide justice for David Italiano in Pennsylvania, but for every person whose dignity and freedoms are comprised as a result of a disability. As a first step, please take the following action today to find and free David Italiano!
Call to Action
If you are among the 1,300+ individuals who signed our petition for David, thank you! If not, please help us reach 1,500 signatures, by June 15 by signing and sharing our petition.
Send Letters and Emails to Lawmakers! (post copies of your letters on MFI’s website HERE)
Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania State Representatives
HERE is an example of a simple email. Please note that due to the date of the letter, it does not mention the Amicus Brief. Please feel free to add that info!
Jamie Maggs (for Jeff Wheeland PA 84th District):
Rep. Kurt Masser (PA 107th District):
Contact Melissa Blair at email@example.com
Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (PA 171st):
Sen. Jake Corman:
Contact Diane Acri at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Linda Culver (PA 108th):
Contact Dawn Becher at email@example.com
Rep Dan Frankel (PA 23rd District):
Contact Erika Fricke at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Scott Conklin (PA 77th District):
Rep. Clint Owlett (PA 68th District):
Rep. Fred Keller (PA 85th District):
Huntingdon County Commissioners Contacts
Contact the Huntingdon County Commissioners and tell them that an agency that they govern (Huntingdon/Bedford/Fulton Area Agency on Aging) is abusing one of their constituents by denying him basic liberties that are protected under the Olmstead Ruling of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Heather Fellman: email@example.com
Mark Sather: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeff Thomas: email@example.com
Scott Walls: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tracey Rhodes: email@example.com
Send Letters to Would-Be Lawmakers!
If you are new to the Shield you can familiarize yourself with the Shield on MFI’s website HERE or read a brief summary of what happened to David prior to the launch of his Shield HERE . If you received this from an independent source and you would like to directly receive Shield alerts in the future, you can sign up by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org putting ‘Add me to Shield List’ in the subject heading. If you would like to enroll in Shield view the online application HERE.
Advocating for someone like David who is prohibited from receiving visitors and making private phone calls, has not only been extremely challenging, it is very disturbing!
For this reason, MFI is forming a ‘cross-disabilities’ alliance with other organizations. Our vision for David’s Shield campaign is to unite Centers for Independent Living with other social justice organizations. Centers for Independent Living are federally mandated to assist people with disabilities to live as independently as possible in their own communities. MFI members know from experience that people with psycho-social disabilities are routinely institutionalized, restrained, drugged/shocked by force, and put under abusive guardianships. We are not alone. This problem also impacts the elderly and people with physical, intellectual, or developmental disabilities. This is why urge people with lived experiences of the mental health system must to unite with people with disabilities and their allies everywhere!
Post & Tweet your support for David Italiano!
#ShieldAlert #DavidItaliano #StopForcedPsychiatry
Share this link HERE on your Facebook
David Italiano was found at last! He still urgently needs our support!
Staff members at Roads to Freedom Center for Independent Living (RTFCIL) after learning of David’s whereabouts, made an unannounced visit to David’s facility by entering through a side door and were able to have a private conversation with him. Sadly, this contact may be short-lived. When RTFCIL staff later called David to follow up, they were told by staff that “David is no longer living here.”
We all know from personal experience how disempowering it is to be isolated in an institution, cut off from everything one holds dear. Let’s write letters and send cards to David.
Shirley Home for the Aged
17050 Country View Lane
Shirleysburg, PA 17260.
Note: Be sure to include a stamped, self addressed envelope when you write!
More importantly, let’s take action today to free David!
David has essentially been disappeared by a government agency that has complete control of every aspect of his life. He cannot visit with whomever he chooses or enjoy a private phone call. What is happening to David is an outrage. Even more alarming is the shortage of checks and balances in the guardianship system in Pennsylvania. What is happening to David can happen to any of us.
MFI is most concerned about the following reports:
1) Staff members at the Shirley House threatened David with psychiatric care in another institution if he doesn’t cooperate. As many of you know, the fraudulent use of psychiatric labeling/tranquilizing drug administration is a well documented form of abuse in nursing homes HERE and HERE and HERE
2) David’s brother sent him a Christmas card over the Holidays. The card was returned to the sender with a note from staff saying that David was ‘deceased.’
3) David still wishes to receive services to help him transition back to his own home but his court appointed guardian (see below) continues to block any visitors or phone calls. Without unfettered communication, David cannot receive federally mandated transitional services that RTFCIL can provide.
David’s legal guardian is a government funded agency called the Hungtingdon County Area Agency on Aging (AAA) The judge who appointed this guardian used to work for that agency.
To MFI’s disappointment, The Protection and Advocacy (P and A) in David’s region – the people whose job it is to protect the rights of vulnerable people – have made it clear to MFI and RTFCIL that they do not intend to take any legal actions/advocate for David.
Please help us turn up the heat and take the following actions today!
Contact Connie Brode, the Executive Director of the AAA for Huntingdon/Bedford/Fulton Counties
Area Agency on Aging
HERE is an example of a simple email
Demand that David Italiano be allowed to receive services to help him transition back to the community and that he be allowed visitors and use of a private phone.
Contact the Huntingdon County Commissioners and tell them that an agency that they govern (Huntington/Bedford/Futon Area Agency on Aging) is abusing one of their constituents by denying him basic liberties that are protected under the Olmstead Ruling of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
A few minutes of your time can make a difference!
As always, please cc your email to email@example.com or post on the comments on our website HERE A simple email with a few talking points is sufficient. For an example, read this brief but excellent.
Updated January 28, 2022
Karen Koch is one of one of the last people to have spoken to David before he was disappeared., Karen Koch is an Advocacy Coordinator for Roads to Freedom Center for Independent Living (RTFCIL) who was helping David transition from the nursing home back to his own home, when his state appointment guardian cut him off from all contact with the outside world. Karen discusses the urgency of finding and freeing David Italiano, and the need for greater checks in Pennsylvania’s dangerous guardianship system
Listen to a recording of the Interview HERE
Updated January 13, 2022
MFI Executive Director, Ron Bassman, has sent out an additional update to the Shield campaign for David Italiano click HERE
Updated January 7, 2022
To read the latest update in the Shield campaign for David Italiano click HERE
Updated December 30, 2021
MindFreedom launched a Shield campaign to find and free David Italiano in October, 2021 in conjunction with David’s chosen advocate, RTFCIL. You can read the original Shield by scrolling down to October. We encourage you to pay particular attention to our letter writing campaign aimed at elected officials in Pennsylvania (listed below)
To date, our Shield campaign for David has not resulted in the outcome we desire.
That is where you come in.
We are about to turn up the heat and we need your help.
Please sign the following petition to help us find and free David today!
It has been a whole year since we knew the whereabouts of David in order to communicate with him and establish his well being. It has been three months since we launched a Shield campaign for David. This petition is important because David’s situation is urgent.
Many of you will receive multiple requests to sign petitions this year for a variety of worthy causes. Very few of them involve abusive guardianships, however. Please treat this petition as if your very life depended on it. What is happening to David can happen to anyone of us.
The motto of MFI’s Shield is ‘One for all and all for one!”
Please take the time not only to sign the petition. Please also publicly share why you are signing on change.org or on our website HERE by scrolling down to the comments below. Take another five minutes to read the petition carefully on change.org and view the options for sharing on the change.org platform.
You can bypass requests to make a donation to Change.org. No donation is required to ensure that your signature is counted. The organizers at Change.org state that by reaching a milestone of 100 signatures, our petition’s visibility will increase. We can easily reach 100 signatures by day’s end (December 31, 2021)
To reach 1,000 signatures, however is going to require that at least half of you signers are also willing to go the extra mile and share this petition with your friends.
To optimize our chances of having our petition go viral, a significant number of you will not only have to share or email this petition to as many of your friends as possible, but do so in a thoughtful and meaningful way by describing, in your own words, why this petition is important to you and why it is important for your friends and colleagues to share. It takes time to convince friends. I hope you will take the time for a person’s life, for David Italiano.
Some of you have blogs and websites. Some of you manage newsletters and large lists. Some of you belong to groups and book clubs, gyms, and places of worship. Please do whatever is within your power to share this as widely as possible.
You can post a link to the petition on your Facebook page or instragram account. You can do it directly from the Change.org platform or simply cut and paste the link to the petition HERE Downloadable, specially, sized graphics for social media are posted below.
You can also plop the link to the petition HERE on your Facebook ‘status update’
We have asked some of our members who were active in ‘Free Britney’ to circulate this to Free Britney activists. Perhaps, with your/their help, Britney Spears may view/share this Petition herself!
Again, here is the link to the Petition HERE
Here is a downloadable graphic you can use for Instagram
Here is downloadable graphic you can use for Facebook
Thank you for helping us turn up the Heat for David!
Updated November 24, 2021
We still do not know where David is and we are doubling down on our efforts to find and free him. See this press release HERE Please help David! To view the original alert scroll down to 10/19/2021
Today’s recommended action is
1) File a complaint against Judge Zanic (see below)
2) Continue to write to Huntingdon County Commissioners. For instructions and an example, scroll down.
Other grass-roots organizations are starting to join MFI and RTFCIL by demanding that lawmakers find and free David Italiano.
A special thanks to ‘Put People First’ members in Pennsylvania for contacting Huntingdon County Commissioners last week.
Another special thanks to Lily for alerting National Association to End Guardianship Abuse which posted David’s Shield alert on their website HERE and agreeing to conduct a radio interview with Karen Koch of RTFCIL.
Have you written to the Commissioners yet? If not, please do so today.
A few minutes of your time can make a difference. The commissioners email addresses are listed below. HERE is an example of a simple email.
As always, please cc your email to firstname.lastname@example.org or post on the comments on our website HERE A simple email with a few talking points is sufficient. For an example, read this brief but excellent.
If you already wrote to the commissions, please report Judge Zanic who ignored evidence presented by a mental health professional at a hearing declaring that David Italiano to be competent. He appointed a guardian who continues to ignore David’s wishes, hides him and prevents him from having contact with the outside world.
File a complaint against Judge Zanic for ruling on the case of David Italiano, despite having a conflict of interest.
- Judge Zanic, was formerly employed as the legal counsel for Huntingdon County AAA before being elected as the President Judge of Huntingdon County.
- Over Mr. Italiano’s objections, Judge Zanic appointed, Huntingdon County AAA, his former client to be David Italiano’s permanent guardianship even though an expert witness declared David Italiano to be mentally competent.
File a complaint with the Judicial Conduct Board of Pennsylvania HERE
Updated November 12, 2021
DAVID IS STILL MISSING!
It has been nearly a year since David Italiano was disappeared in Pennsylvania’s broken guardianship system, a black hole which many elderly people, psychiatric survivors, and people with disabilities fall into, often with lethal consequences.
It has been over three weeks since MindFreedom International issued an official Shield alert for David Italiano. MFI learned of his plight from Roads to Freedom Center for Independent Living (RTF) earlier in the year after RTF staff tried to help David move from a congregate facility back into his own home before he was disappeared in retaliation.
The goal of the alert is to find him, confirm his safety, and make sure that he is respected and treated like a human being as opposed to being locked up in a nursing home and forced to wear an ankle bracelet, as he was when RTF staff last were able to communicate with him.
What is happening to him could happen to any of us. We must protect David Italiano and in doing so, send a clear message to lawmakers and people who work for any oppressive system: psychiatric facilities, geriatric facilities, group homes, etc. that we will not tolerate human rights abuses, especially as it concerns the care of people with psycho social disabilities.
Remember, David Italiano does not have a psychiatric diagnosis. He is not in a psychiatric facility. This alert is a joint effort between MFI and RTFCIL. This Shield alert illustrates the overlapping problems faced by both psychiatric survivors and people with disabilities.
If you have not contacted Senator Toomey, Governor Wolf. and the other lawmakers listed in previous alerts (archived below) please contact them today! If you have already contacted those lawmakers, please contact the Huntingdon County commissioners, the focus of today’s Shield update..
The Huntingdon County Commissioners hold the purse strings of the agency that is hiding David Italiano.
Read the many, eloquent letters, especially the one by Meaghan Graef (scroll down to comments section below) for inspiration or the talking points in earlier updates below when comprising your email.
ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE THIS WEEKEND!
Call or write an email alerting Huntingdon County Commissioners to the treatment and disappearance of David Italiano in Pennsylvania’s broken guardian system and send the email to every Huntingdon County commissioner listed below. Be sure to cc email@example.com or post your email on the comments section below. Be sure to tell the Commissioners that the Huntingdon County AAA has assumed guardianship of David Italiano against David’s wishes and that they will not disclose his whereabouts of confirm his safety or allow him to have contact with his chosen advocate Roads to Freedom Center for Independent Living, in accordance with Pennsylvania’s guardianship statutes and in accordance with David’s civil liberties under the Olmstead Ruling. You can find talking points below.
Updated November 9 2021
Thanks to a Shield volunteer (not sure if I can out her by name) we now possess a very important court document which will greatly help the Shield campaign for David Italiano. Please visit this page soon for new important actions you can take to find and free David based on this new finding.
If you haven’t written yet to Sen Casey, Rep Irvin, Sen. Toobey, or Governor Wolf yet, please do so today!
Ron Bassman, Executive Director of MFI, submitted this letter to the Governor HERE
Updated November 5, 2021
Please continue to help David Italiano!. It is critical that Shield members continue to take action. His situation is urgent. If you haven’t written to Pennsylvania lawmakers below, please do so today by scrolling down to letter writing resources posted below on 10/19/21 and 10/27/21
If you already written to lawmakers in Pennsylvania, please contact the media!
Write a letter to the editor of the Huntingdon County Daily News HERE
Write an opinion piece to Pennsylvania Capital Star HERE
Write a letter to the editor of the Pennsylvania Inquirer HEREand select ‘Letter to the Editor’
Contact WPCN radio station in Huntingdon County HERE
Call WPCN Phone: 216-916-6100/Toll Free: 877-399-3307
The following press release distributed by MFI is provided for informational purposes.
The Alert updated on 10/29/21
For original alert (and actions) scroll down to 10/19/2021
If you have already the actions listed in the original alert dated 10/19/21 Thank you! The situation involving David is considered urgent until we find David and communicate with him once again! Please continue to take action today. We will post a different action each week. The action we recommend this week is to call or write to Senator Toomey.
320 Market Street
Harrisburg, PA 17108
Letter Template in PDF HERE
(more formats coming soon)
Contact Senator Toomey using the contact form on his website:
“Don’t Murder Me!” reads an excerpt from the journal of David Italiano, a disabled individual who was ‘Disappeared’ in Pennsylvania’s Broken Guardianship System. Take Action Today! Help Us Find David and Restore His Rights!
MindFreedom International (MFI) in conjunction with Roads to Freedom Center for Independent Living (RTFCIL), is launching a Shield Alert to locate and establish the well-being of David Italiano, an elderly person in Pennsylvania who has been ‘disappeared’ by a government funded agency called the Huntingdon County Area Agency (AAA) in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.
Please help us find David Italiano and confirm his well being. Help David exercise his right to receive appropriate services to help him to live independently in his own home!
A complete history of David’s story can be found in our website HERE. A brief summary follows and below that, recommended actions for Shield members to take.
Last year, after complaining of spousal abuse, David was placed under a temporary guardianship and moved to a congregate facility 120+ miles from where he lives. At David’s request, RTFCIL consented to help David put together his own care plan. One of David’s goals was to petition the court for a termination or change of guardianship. Another goal was to move back home.
Later in the year, his spouse died and no longer posed a threat to David. A neuropsychiatric evaluation determined that David was competent and no longer in need of protection, yet a judge in Huntingdon County placed David under permanent guardianship.
The Huntingdon County AAA forbid RTFCIL from communicating with David, even though RTFCIL has determined that David is eligible for services to help him live independently, services which David has requested. His guardian even instructed the staff at the nursing home to monitor David’s personal calls and confiscated his personal cell phone. Before being ‘disappeared’ David shared this poignant letter describing the despair having every facet of one’s life dictated by someone else. HERE
David was secretly moved to another location on February 20 to prevent him from having contact with RTFCIL. The Huntingdon County AAA refuses to communicate with RTFCIL on behalf of David and will not reveal his location.
David’s story reveals that our guardianship system is broken. Supported decision making is not practiced in the current system and it easy to abuse and exploit people with disabilities who are under guardianship.
Please take action today! Inform public officials that you will not not sit back and allow the state to take away David Italiano’s right to live in the least restrictive setting of his choosing. This right was guaranteed under the American Disabilities Act (ADA) according to the Supreme Court, in Olmstead v.s. LC
Please join MFI to demand the following of public officials:
- Compel Huntingdon County AAA to disclose David Italiano’s location.
- Allow David Italiano to communicate freely with whoever he chooses.
- Force nursing home staff to return David’s private phone.
- Compel agencies to use supported decision making with all of their disabled clients, including those under guardianship!
For a list of recommended actions and people you should contact see below.
Please circulate this alert to your colleagues and friends. Let us know what actions you take by cc’ing firstname.lastname@example.org
ACTIONS TO TAKE
Every week, we will post a new action. For today’s action, we urge you to write letters or email to the following public officials. If you choose to use email (Governor Wolf is the only official below who does not post his email address) you can combine recipients. Be sure to cc email@example.com or post your email/letter in comments below.
Letter templates are provided below each public official’s contact information but please note, that they should only serve as guidelines. It is better to use your own words to the greatest extent possible. Letter templates are provided in two formats to make it easier. If you can use the MS Word software, you can open and overwrite on the templates, saving only the words you want to replicate. If your browser will only open text files, you can find additional formats on the website of our partner PsychRights HERE
Contact Governor Wolf’s Office
Call Governor Wolf
Write to Governor Wolf
Use the contact form:
Send Ground Letters to Governor Wolf:
Office of the Governor
508 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120
*Additional format available on the website of PsychRights HERE
Contact Rich Irvin, State Representive, District 81 (David’s Home community)
Hon. Rich Irvin
612 Pennsylvania Avenue
Huntingdon, PA 16652
Fax: (814) 644-2999
Contact Senator Casey
Chairman of Special Committee on Aging
CALL Senator Casey
Disability Policy Director
Office of Sen. Bob Casey
Write to Sen. Casey at his Philadelphia office
2000 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103