Four employees at a Long Island, N.Y., group home for adults with developmental disabilities are being accused of encouraging patients to attack each other, prosecutors said.
According to CBS 2 News, four people working at the Independent Group Home Living center encouraged patients “to strike each other — one knocking over the other in the wheelchair — and then rewarding them with praise.”
Special prosecutor Jacqueline Kagan, of the New York State Justice Center for Protection of People with Special Needs, said that Erin McHenry, Justin McDonald, Stephen Komara and Rosemary Vanni “encouraged two developmentally disabled adults to participate in, what I said on record, is a developmentally disabled fight club.”
One of the two men grabbed the other by the neck and pushed him to the ground while sitting in his wheelchair, then “violently” stomping his head and neck as McHenry egged him on, according to a complaint cited by the Southampton Press.
Kagan said one group home worker recorded the fights on their cell phone while the other three laughed as two severely disabled men fought.
The case came to the attention of the state only after one of the workers emailed the cellphone video to someone else, who reported it to New York’s Justice Center Hotline, which was created to protect special needs rights.
“These arrests should serve as a warning that the Justice Center and the District Attorneys of this state will not hesitate to prosecute behavior that violates, endangers or causes injuries to vulnerable New Yorkers,” said Special Prosecutor Patricia Gunning.
The four defendants have all been fired, and charged with endangering the welfare of a disabled person.
Watch CBS 2’s report on the incident below: