Assemblywoman Donna Simon is joining with several Republican lawmakers to draft legislation to protect developmentally disabled people from being exploited. The action is in response to a recent incident in which a young man with a form of autism was prodded to jump off a jetty into 20-degree water by two young men.
The two males “dared” Parker Drake of Howell Township to jump into the frigid Manasquan River by offering him $20 and two packs of cigarettes. They filmed, taunted and laughed while Parker struggled to reach land.
“It’s despicable, infuriating and heart wrenching when the developmentally disabled are victimized,” said Simon, R-Somerset, Hunterdon, Mercer and Middlesex. “It’s shocking to me that another human being would intentionally disregard and take advantage of the vulnerabilities of an individual with disabilities instead of feeling compassion, love, and the need to help.
“What happened to Parker is no harmless prank,” she continued. “He could have died or been seriously injured due to their reckless and despicable actions. What those two men did to Parker was purposeful, unconscionable and must be addressed.”
Currently, there is no statute under which police can charge the two men. Simon has teamed with Assembly Republicans Caroline Casagrande, Mary Pat Angelini, Sean Kean, Ron Dancer, and Senate Republicans Bob Singer and Jennifer Beck in this effort.