Former Senate candidate charged with domestic assault on her daughter

File photo by Kit Norton/VTDigger
Former Senate candidate Folasade Adeluola.

VT Digger

A former longshot U.S. Senate candidate has been charged with domestic assault on a vulnerable adult following an incident last week at a Williston store.

Folasade Theresa Adeluola was arrested for allegedly attempting to rip her 22-year-old daughter, Doyin Lasaki, from an electric wheelchair and striking her repeatedly before a bystander intervened.

Folasade, 56, moved to Vermont in 2017 to take on incumbent Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 2018 Senate Democratic primary. She received 5 percent of the vote.

When filing to run for Senate, Folasade listed her address with the Secretary of State as 3164 Shelburne Road – the address for Harbor Place, a motel run by the Burlington nonprofit Champlain Housing Trust for low-income and often long-term guests. She currently resides in Burlington, according to her Facebook page.

On Friday evening, Officer William Bouffard was dispatched to the Williston Walmart in response to a report of an assault in progress, according to a police affidavit. A caller had told police that a woman inside the store “ripped her daughter’s shirt off and hit her daughter in the face,” before the caller hung up to intervene.

When Bouffard arrived to the scene, he noticed that Lasaki’s eyes were “red and watery,” but that he did not see any marks on her face. Adeluola had fled the scene during Hammond’s intervention, but returned shortly after Bouffard arrived. Adeluola then began to scream at the crowd that had gathered, telling them to leave her daughter alone, according to the affidavit.

Adeluola then tried to get closer to her daughter, but Bouffard intervened, walking her to her car to retrieve her ID. The officer then called for a second unit.

Adeluola asked Bouffard to get the crowd to back up, because her daughter has an artificial heart valve and is susceptible to infections. Bouffard told Adeluoa he would relay the message, but that she had to remain calm and stay separate from the group — which she refused to do, according to the affidavit.

Bouffard then spoke to several witnesses, and upon learning the full nature of the incident, told Adeluola she was under arrest for domestic assault on a vulnerable adult.

Adeluola resisted arrest, according to the affidavit, but a Vermont state trooper arrived and assisted in taking her into custody. As this occurred, Adeluola reportedly said, “Officer, why? I have done nothing wrong. I just wanted to leave and no one would help me.”

Three Walmart employees witnessed the events, telling Bouffard that Adeluola had left Lesaki alone in front of the service desk for 27 minutes while she shopped. Adeluola asked one employee to help move Lesaki out of the store, but the employee reported that Lesaki did not want to get out of the chair. Adeluola then hit Lesaki on the arm, according to the employee.

Another witness reported that when Adeluola was trying to pull Lesaki from the chair, she pulled her daughter’s shirt off almost entirely, leaving her bra exposed, and that she hit Lesaki in the face while yelling “let’s go.”

One employee noted that she had actually called the police on Adeluola six months prior, thinking that Lesaki had been abandoned after Adeluola had left her unattended in the store for an extended period of time.

A surveillance video provided by Walmart confirmed the employees’ accounts, according to the affidavit. It showed Lesaki repeatedly resisting her mother’s attempts to get her to stand up, although “the video is not clear enough to clearly see Adeluola strike Lesaki.”

Adeluola told police that her daughter, for whom she is the sole caregiver, has Down syndrome, is mentally disabled and nonverbal. At the scene, Lesaki did not speak, and could not tell officers her name, age or where she lived.

Lesaki was released into the custody of a person contacted by Adeluola who previously had cared for Lesaki. Lesaki earlier had lived with her mother at a shelter, and received partial benefits from the state.

Adeluola was released on conditions and faces a maximum of 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine if convicted.

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