The photo above is the booking information for Rep. Bob Nicholas, R-Cheyenne. He was elected in 2010 to represent House District Eight in Cheyenne. The Wyoming Tribune-Eagle has the full story:
State Rep. Bob Nicholas, R-Cheyenne, faces a felony charge of abusing a disabled adult in Florida following a Nov. 23 arrest.
Nicholas, 54, was arrested in Boca Grande, Fla., while on vacation after allegedly punching and kicking his 19-year-old mentally disabled son, according to a Lee County Sheriff’s Office report.
The document indicates that multiple witnesses outside of a restaurant saw Nicholas hit his son repeatedly with a closed fist, push him onto the sidewalk and then kick him more than five times. The Lee County Sheriff’s Office contacted Nicholas about two hours after the incident in the hotel room where he and his son were staying.
A sergeant reported a small blood stain on a bedspread in the room and observed that the victim had redness and welts on his neck and a foot-sized abrasion to the skin around his left ribcage that appeared to have a shoelace pattern to it, the report says.
Nicholas was placed under arrest and was released Nov. 24 on a $20,000 bond. Abuse of an elderly or disabled adult is a third-degree felony in Florida, and it carries a prison sentence of up to five years. Nicholas is set for an arraignment on Dec. 27. [Nicholas] intends to fight the charge. He added that he was only trying to keep his son under control. Nicholas’ son suffers from seizures and has a mental condition similar to autism, the report indicates.
Nicholas said his son became disruptive and combative during lunch. He said he was only trying to get his son out of the restaurant, and he described his response as “corporal punishment,” according to the sheriff’s report.
Nicholas added that his son was “not harmed” after the altercation. “I accept I will have to explain my actions,” he said. “And if I was too strong with my son, I will address that as well.”
The biography he provided for his last campaign listed that he has served for more than 10 years as a board member on the Caring for Children Foundation and is a Special Olympics coach. The legislator said he has no intention of resigning his legislative seat. “I don’t think I committed a crime, so why would I?” he responded when asked.
Here at Equality for All, we’re shocked at the allegations of abuse on the part of a state representative. However, we’re hesitant to call for his complete resignation unless he is found guilty or pleas guilty to these charges. A felony is quite serious. The reactions of Wyomingites have varied from defense of Nicholas to calls for him to step down.
In light of this recent charge, two of Nicholas’ votes concern us: “Nay” on SF 132, which made strangulation of a household member a felony, and “Nay” on HB 256, which established Tenant Rights in Domestic and Sexual Violence Cases. We hope that Nicholas takes issues of family violence seriously. Violence against anyone is not okay, much less a vulnerable adult. If you wish to track Nicholas’ case, the Florida court system provides online tracking.
This case also illustrates claims from some people who state that in order to control someone who has a developmental disability, physical force is justified. Diane, an Equality for All supporter in Buffalo, Wyo. writes, “I worked with high needs kids in the public schools for a few years and saw my share of ‘meltdowns.’ Never once was a hand raised to any of them. There are things that you can do that will diffuse the situation WITHOUT slapping them or kicking them. He should be kicked out of office…” The APA [American Psychological Association] also roundly condemns corporal punishment.
At Equality for All, we feel there are more effective means of discipline, whether used against children or disabled adults. We hope Rep. Nicholas and his family are able to work through this situation. However, we also believe that if the accusations against Rep. Nicholas are true, he should step down as a representative of HD 8, and from the board of the Caring for Children Foundation and as a Special Olympics Coach.
This has gone national now. Good. If you’d like to contact Bob Nicholas, here’s how:
Robert A. Nicholas: (307) 514-3693 | (307) 634-2994
His e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org