Fury over Ta­coma woman’s post about dis­abled girl

The News Tribune - - Front Page - BY CRAIG SAILOR AND SEAN ROBIN­SON [email protected]­new­stri­bune.com srobin­[email protected]­new­stri­bune.com

A Ta­coma woman has caused a so­cial me­dia firestorm after telling the mother of a dis­abled child to put her girl “out of her mis­ery.”

The con­tro­versy has drawn the at­ten­tion of a celebrity, ex­posed women who share the same name to ha­rass­ment and got­ten the poster fired from one job.

The events un­folded Wed­nes­day when Natalie Weaver of Cor­nelius, North Carolina, posted a Christmas photo of her fam­ily on Face­book. It in­cluded her 10-year-old daugh­ter Sophia, who has fa­cial, hand and feet de­for­mi­ties.

“We are grate­ful for an­other beau­ti­ful hol­i­day sea­son with Sophia,” Weaver wrote. “She con­tin­ues to over­come & fight ev­ery daily chal­lenge & dif­fi­culty she faces. She does it with so much sweet­ness, laugh­ter and pos­i­tiv­ity. She is the def­i­ni­tion of strength. I’m so proud of my girl.”

Weaver is a well-known ad­vo­cate for chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties. CNN pro­filed her in Fe­bru­ary. She is the founder of Sophia’s Voice, a non-profit that helps peo­ple with chronic ill­nesses and dis­abil­i­ties get their med­i­cal needs met.

Sophia has Rett syn­drome, a neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­or­der that af­fects one in 10,000 fe­male births. It can af­fect brain func­tion and other sys­tems.

Kelsey Mon­a­han Saum re­sponded shortly after.

“If you TRULY loved her, you’d go the self­less & em­pa­thetic route by putting her out of her mis­ery,” Saum wrote on Face­book.

In her mes­sage, Saum called Weaver a “Sick & twisted self right­eous Chris­tian.”

She ended it with: “I hope you got ster­il­ized so you can’t pro­duce any­more de­fec­tive off­spring.”

In an in­ter­view with The News Tri­bune, Weaver said, “I was shocked at how vile and hate­ful these re­marks were. Once I got home from pick­ing my kids up from school, I went to the bath­room so my kids wouldn’t see me cry.”

Saum was con­tacted by The News Tri­bune on Wed­nes­day and con­firmed she had writ­ten the post but de­clined an in­ter­view.

She said she runs a prop­erty man­age­ment busi­ness that uses the ad­dress of a Ta­coma lock­smith shop. An em­ployee at the shop told a News Tri­bune re­porter he wasn’t fa­mil­iar with Saum or her busi­ness.

Saum was listed on her LinkedIn page as a seller of Young Liv­ing Es­sen­tial Oils, an aro­matic plant ex­tracts com­pany. The com­pany’s pres­i­dent,

Jared Turner, tweeted Wed­nes­day that he had ter­mi­nated her ac­count.

“This is un­ac­cept­able and not rep­re­sen­ta­tive of our val­ues,” Turner said. “It’s so painful to see these vile mes­sages.”

After Saum’s Face­book re­sponse, Weaver went to Twit­ter to bring it to her fol­low­ers’ at­ten­tion.

“I don’t have the in­flu­ence to ex­pose and change this on my own,” Weaver wrote. “These peo­ple need to be held ac­count­able for their hate!”

Ac­tress Alyssa Mi­lano, who said she is a friend of Weaver’s and who has more than 3 mil­lion fol­low­ers on Twit­ter, retweeted Saum’s post with her own re­sponse.

“If it’s in your na­ture to lash out at Natalie be­cause her child looks dif­fer­ent, you are part of the prob­lem,” said Mi­lano, a lib­eral ac­tivist who ear­lier this week posted a Dr. Seuss spoof crit­i­ciz­ing fed­eral Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion rules con­cern­ing cam­pus sex­ual as­saults.

The out­rage over

Saum’s post was vo­lu­mi­nous, re­sult­ing in thou­sands of Face­book and Twit­ter com­ments and retweets.

“It breaks my heart that this woman’s soul is so ugly, so tainted with cru­elty and cyn­i­cism,” Deb­o­rah Cadabra wrote on Face­book. “And it makes me an­gry. How dare any­one who doesn’t know the love and sac­ri­fices and strug­gles it takes to raise a child be so darn judg­men­tal?”

“She should hide,” wrote Joshua An­thony on Face­book. “The dum­b­ass in me wants to track her down and make her de­fec­tive.”

As the back­lash grew Wed­nes­day, Saum deleted her so­cial me­dia ac­counts.

The back­lash af­fected peo­ple who shared Saum’s name.

“From some woman who has the same name as me said some­thing rude about a child I am getting bashed, hate mes­sages, etc. STOP say­ing it’s me when it’s NOT,” tweeted a dif­fer­ent Kelsey Saum from Ohio.

This is not the first time Weaver has had to deal with hate­ful com­ments about her daugh­ter, who re­quires around-the-clock care. Last year, a Twit­ter user used a photo of Sophia in a tweet ad­vo­cat­ing for co­erced abor­tion.

“Next to the death threats, this was in the top five of the most of­fen­sive com­ments I’ve re­ceived,” Weaver told The News Tri­bune.

Court records from Wash­ing­ton and Ore­gon re­fer­ring to Saum re­veal a series of do­mes­tic-vi­o­lence in­ci­dents in­volv­ing Saum, who is iden­ti­fied as Kelsey L. Mon­a­han, 27. At times she is iden­ti­fied as the instigator. In other ex­am­ples, she claims to be the vic­tim of ha­rass­ment.

Records from Ore­gon courts show she was con­victed in June 2017 of reck­lessly en­dan­ger­ing an­other per­son.

Pierce County court records re­veal a series of do­mes­tic-vi­o­lence al­le­ga­tions in Fe­bru­ary and March 2017 in­volv­ing Mon­a­han and a boyfriend.

The first record, a pro­tec­tion-or­der pe­ti­tion, al­leged that Mon­a­han threat­ened her boyfriend and his adult chil­dren when he tried to end their re­la­tion­ship. The mat­ter con­cluded in March 2017, when the boyfriend and his sons filed a series of dec­la­ra­tions de­scrib­ing Mon­a­han’s be­hav­ior, in­clud­ing copies of text mes­sages she had sent to the boyfriend and his lawyer.

“Tell your ly­ing coward of a client that some­one will be at the shop to re­trieve Kelsey’s per­sonal be­long­ings,” one text mes­sage to the lawyer said.

The lawyer replied, urg­ing Mon­a­han to work through the process with in­ter­me­di­aries, as agreed pre­vi­ously.

“I don’t care what you want, you fat old (ex­ple­tive),” Mon­a­han replied via text.

Weaver said she makes pub­lic mes­sages like the one Saum posted on Face­book so that change can oc­cur in so­ci­ety.

“I would like for the pub­lic to see the kind of hate that pro­foundly dis­abled chil­dren and chil­dren with fa­cial de­for­mi­ties re­ceive,” Weaver said. “I want every­one to see the beauty and value in ev­ery soul no mat­ter what their abil­i­ties are.

“Ev­ery sin­gle hu­man be­ing de­serves love, dig­nity and re­spect.”

NATALIE WEAVER Cour­tesy

Natalie Weaver, her hus­band Mark and their chil­dren (from left) Sophia 10, Lyla, 5, and Alex, 10.

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