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Man accused of raping group home resident

The mentally disabled woman was at the center of a battle to appoint a guardian for her fetus.

Associated Press
Published September 10, 2003

ORLANDO - The husband of a group home owner was arrested Tuesday on charges that he raped a profoundly mentally disabled woman who was at the center of a court battle over efforts to appoint a guardian for her fetus.

The 22-year-old victim, identified only by her initials as J.D.S., gave birth to a girl on Aug. 30.

DNA tests on saliva samples taken from J.D.S., her child and people with access to J.D.S. showed Phillip Strong, 75, is the father, police said.

Strong was being held without bail on a first-degree felony charge of sexual battery on a mentally defective person.

Also arrested was Strong's wife, Hester Strong, 73, owner of the state-licensed home that was run out of the Strongs' home. She was being held in lieu of $7,500 bail on a charge of neglect of a mentally defective person, a second-degree felony.

The group home has been shut down.

Before the birth of the child, Gov. Jeb Bush pushed for the appointment of a guardian for the fetus as well as the mother, because the mother was unable to provide for its well-being. A circuit judge refused. The state is backing an appeal of the case by a woman who sought to be the fetus' guardian. It could be spring before the 5th District Court of Appeal rules.

Abortion rights advocates have accused the Bush administration of pushing the case to try and open the door to broadly appointing guardians for fetuses, possibly as a means to stop abortions.

J.D.S., who suffers from severe retardation, cerebral palsy and autism, had lived in the home since she was 3 years old.

She was pregnant about five months before her caretaker informed the Florida Department of Children and Families and police in April, said Rick Salcedo, an Orlando police detective.

It was not known if Hester Strong knew of the alleged rape, Salcedo said.

Once police began investigating, DCF removed from Strong's care three other women and two men.

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