Group home worker arrested years after woman with mental capacity of child gave birth

ROCKLEDGE, Fla. — A group home resident with epilepsy and the mental capacity of a small child gave birth in 2015, and an employee at the facility was arrested Tuesday.

Bridges CEO David Cook said he did not have enough evidence to fire Willie Shorter in 2015.

"There was no evidence, and we only fire someone if we observe abuse," he said. "Obviously, that person is fired as a result of an investigation."


Dawn Blanchard, 43, named three men as potential suspects when it was discovered she was pregnant, and her story changed multiple times, Cook said.

The Rockledge Police Department said there was not enough evidence to request a DNA sample at the time.

Blanchard said last year that Shorter inappropriately touched her.

"She specifically mentioned this person," Cook said. "Again, we called DCF, called APD, Rockledge police."

Police said Shorter voluntarily gave a DNA sample, and a test revealed that the child's DNA profile was a 99.99 percent match to Shorter.

Cook said the Florida Department of Children and Families is investigating the facility.

Channel 9's Ashley Edlund visited Shorter's home Thursday, but the person who answered the door said it was not a convenient time for him to speak with her.

Dawn Blanchard's father, Robert Blanchard Sr., told Channel 9 on Monday that he must take her back to the facility, because he does not have the money to move her to another facility.

"I have no choice. I have to take her back there this afternoon," he said. "I don't want to leave her at that institution. I don't trust anybody there any longer."

The family's attorneys said they plan to sue the facility in hopes of receiving money that they could use to move Dawn Blanchard to another facility.

Robert Blanchard Sr. said his daughter's son, Robbie, is now 3 and has been adopted by her brother.

"He's a beautiful child, and he's so intelligent," he said.

Shorter was charged with lewd and lascivious battery but has been released after paying bail.

9 Investigates' Jeff Deal visited Shorter's home Monday, but no one answered the door.

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