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Officials: 4 Group Home Aides Encouraged Developmentally Disabled to Fight
Four Long Island Group Home workers were arrested following an investigation into complaints that they allegedly encouraged two people with disabilities to attack one another—and laughed as it was happening, authorities said.
The direct care workers—Erin McHenry of Brookhaven, Justin McDonald of Lindenhurst, Stephen Komara of East Moriches and Rosemary Vanni of Eastport—were terminated upon their arrest by Southampton Town police, who obtained “disturbing” cell phone video allegedly showing the group laughing as they egged on developmentally disabled individuals they work with at Manorville’s Independent Group Home Living Program, officials said.
Three of the four were arraigned Thursday at Southampton Town Justice Court on two counts of endangering the welfare of an incompetent of physically disabled person, a felony. Bail was set at $10,000 each. A bench warrant was issued for Vanni, who failed to appear in court, officials said.
The allegations were first reported to the New York State Justice Center hotline.
Their former employer released a statement Thursday afternoon saying they are “outraged and offended by these alleged acts,” adding that the agency is fully cooperating with authorities and supports a “vigorous prosecution.”
“Within minutes of learning about this alleged incident, our agency’s investigators and management staff were on the scene, insuring that our consumers were safe and to begin what would be a thorough investigation,” the statement said.
The agency then notified Southampton Town police and the New York State Office of People With Developmental Disabilities and the families of those involved.
“IGHL has a zero tolerance policy regarding these types of activities,” the agency added. “We thoroughly screen potential employees, train our staff about abuse prevention and encourage the reporting of suspected mistreatment.”