In The Politics of Autism, I write:
People with disabilities are victims of violent crime three times as often as people without disabilities. The Bureau of Justice Statistics does not report separately on autistic victims, but it does note that the victimization rate is especially high among those whose disabilities are cognitive. A small-sample study of Americans and Canadians found that adults with autism face a greater risk of sexual victimization than their peers. Autistic respondents were more than twice as likely to say that had been the victim of rape and over three times as likely to report unwanted sexual contact.
Jerry Lambe at Law and Crime:
An incensed judge excoriated the woman convicted of murdering her 8-year-old stepson by forcing him to sleep in an unheated garage in the winter, calling her “evil” and saying that the maximum sentence of 25 years to life wasn’t a harsh enough punishment for the “torture” she inflicted on her stepchildren.
Angela Pollina, 45, had witnessed her husband Michael Valva turn a hose on young Thomas Valva before forcing him to sleep in the garage of their Long Island home in January of 2020. As temperatures dropped to 19 degrees Fahrenheit, Thomas eventually froze to death.
“I’ve had the opportunity to visit the prison where you’ll be sent,” Judge Timothy Mazzei said during Polina’s sentencing hearing on Tuesday. “My only regret, Ms. Pollina, is that they don’t have a garage there with no heat, and no mattress, and no blankets, and no pillows, and […] nothing that belongs in a bedroom. So you could sleep [there] for the rest of your life. Because that’s where you deserve to be for the rest of your natural life.”
A Suffolk County jury last month found Pollina guilty of second-degree murder and child endangerment for the death of her stepson. Thomas died of hypothermia after Pollina and Valva forced him and his 10-year-old brother Anthony Valva to sleep on the concrete floor of the garage after their father sprayed them with a hose. The torturous treatment was meant to punish Thomas, who had autism, for soiling himself.
Michael Valva, a former NYPD police officer, received the same sentence — 25 years to life — in December for his role in his son’s death.