Mother speaks up about son dressing like woman and scaring student

A 23-year-old Quad Cities man remains behind bars after he was arrested wearing a wig and a dress near a Moline middle school.

His mother says jail and court can’t provide the help her son needs.

Terri Nichols is speaking up for her son after, she says, he has been portrayed as a monster.

“He did not touch anyone, approach anyone.  He scared her,” said Nichols.

Her son, 23-year-old Derek Argo, was arrested on Friday, August 23, 2013 for disorderly conduct after he startled a middle school student.

Nichols says Derek was diagnosed five years ago as a bi-polar schizophrenic.  Nichols says he often goes for runs and dresses like a woman.

“He frightened her by his appearance, which is very understandable,” said Nichols.

Nichols says there have been few places for her to turn to for help.

“I think there should be more help out there,” said Nichols.

Michael Freda, director of operations for the Robert Young Center says there is some help out there, but Illinois budget issues have made it limited.

“If a person doesn’t have Medicaid then there’s a limited benefit package that they can take advantage of,” said Freda.

Argo’s also over 21 and in Illinois that means it’s up to him, not his family to seek help.

“That person has to make that choice to say, ‘Okay, I want to go to outpatient services,'” said Freda.

While Argo has been under a doctor’s care, it wasn’t enough to prevent the situation and Nichols says she wants everyone to know the whole story and hopefully bring about change.

“Just because you dress differently, act differently, does not mean people should be able to basically make a witch hunt out of them,” said Nichols.

Robert Young Center and other groups in our area have options for people with insurance or on Medicaid and there is some financial help available to those without, but it’s very limited.