Imposter sign language interpreter signs gibberish during police press conference
TAMPA, Florida (WFTS) —
An imposter sign language interpreter crashed a Tampa press conference where police were announcing a major arrest in the recent Seminole Heights murders.
But those who are hard of hearing say some of her interpretations didn't make any sense.
"She was standing there twisting her hands back and forth. I could tell automatically that interpreters don't do that," said USF professor Rachelle Settambrino.
Derlyn Roberts showed up posing as a sign language interpreter on a night when many watched for news of a big arrest.
"A lot of them were invented signs and I wasn't able to understand what she was saying," Settambrino said.
As the Tampa police chief spoke about the capture of a serial killer suspect, the deaf and the hard of hearing community were left hanging.
"Most of the time it just looked like she was singing but not using actual signs," Settambrino said.
She says she was disappointed, frustrated and upset.
Victim Monica Hoffa's mother, who is deaf as well, was also there, relying on a phony interpreter.
"She was standing there. She was standing right there and the interpreter was signing in a way that was incomprehensible,"she said.
A Tampa police spokesperson says he didn't do his due diligence that Roberts showed up that night, posing as an American Sign Language interpreter and he did not question her.
The city relies on a pre-paid contractor for interpreters and Tampa police assumed she was sent over.
"We have so many interpreting agencies and proficient skilled interpreters here where did this person come from and why did they not vet her appropriately?," Hoffa said.
To make matters worse, Roberts has a potpourri of mugshots from previous arrests for, believe it or not, fraud. One conviction landed her in state prison.
"Really the trust there is destroyed at that point so who can we rely on," Settambrino said.
Police say they don't know why Roberts posed as an interpreter. They say that what she did is not a crime, but an ethical violation.