NJ Center for Autism Wins Reversal in Harassment Suit

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11 Dec 2018, 3:59 am

https://www.courthousenews.com/nj-center-for-autism-wins-reversal-in-harassment-suit/

Quote:
An appeals court revived a lawsuit Monday where a New Jersey couple is accused of using horse manure and a belligerent goat to keep their community from being the site of a group home for adults with autism.

Oasis Therapeutic Life Centers, founded by nurse and the mother of an autistic child Joan Mai Cleary, operates a 26-acre estate in Monmouth County to help young autistic men and women transition from high school.

In 2015 Cleary then sought to open a second center on a farm in Middletown for autistic students who graduated from the first center. She began negotiating to purchase a residential farm in town for $2.2 million and applied for a $600,000 grant from the Monmouth Conservation Foundation.

But Oasis has said that its new center faced almost immediate backlash, with local couple Peter and Susan Wade driving the resistance. Oasis said the Wades went door to door to drum up opposition to the grant, and then approached the property’s owner to buy the property before Oasis could, only to back out of the deal at the last minute when it seemed Oasis was no longer interested.

When the property owner agreed again to deal with Oasis, the owner received anonymous letters asking, “how can you live with yourself?”

Despite alleged attempts by Peter Wade to keep the center from use the shared driveway and to have the easement revoked, Oasis Therapeutic Life Centers closed on the deal.

This did nothing, however, to stop the harassment. The organization told the court of an illegal fence that blocked an easement on the property, spray-painted graffiti and harassing signs of snakes and fire. It also accused the Wades allowing their animals to roam on the property, describing a horse that left “hundreds of pounds” of manure on the Oasis grounds.

Cleary herself meanwhile was head-butted by a “very aggressive goat” that Oasis accused the Wades of letting onto the property.

This claim of economic damage allegedly resulting from defendants’ alleged discriminatory conduct sufficiently meets the standing required by the [Law Against Discrimination],” Judge Clarkson Fisher Jr. wrote for a three-person panel.

Fisher cited New Jersey Housing Discrimination laws, which forbid discrimination against property buyers or renters based on disability of the dweller.


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Professionally Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity

My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person. - Sara Luterman