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Counselor at Staten Island independent living facility accused of hitting mentally di
From SiLive: http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf...l#incart_river
Counselor at Staten Island independent living facility accused of hitting mentally disabled resident with broomstick
By Frank Donnelly/Staten Island Advance
on April 20, 2013 at 3:02 PM, updated April 20, 2013 at 3:04 PM
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- He was entrusted with caring for the most vulnerable among us.
But a counselor at an Eltingville independent living facility violated that bond, hitting a mentally disabled resident with a broomstick, said authorities.
Matthew Andrews, 28, of the 100 block of Long Pond Lane, Clifton, was arrested Friday and criminally charged in connection with the Sept. 17 incident at the Independent Living Association on Lamoka Avenue, authorities said.
A spokeswoman for Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, whose office is prosecuting the case, said the 38-year-old-victim was not physically hurt.
"Everyone has a right to a safe living environment and dignified treatment in our health care facilities," Schneiderman said in a statement. "Disabled persons are particularly vulnerable to abuse because they often cannot speak up for themselves. Attacking, abusing, or taking advantage of the most vulnerable members of our society is simply intolerable."
According to court papers, the episode was set in motion when a fellow counselor at the facility heard the victim screaming. She ran to him and saw Andrews holding a broomstick and standing over the man, who was seated on a couch.
The co-worker observed Andrews jab the resident "numerous" times with the broom handle, as the man tried to push it away, said court documents.
The incident was video recorded.
When the co-worker asked Andrews why he had the broom, the suspect said the resident was acting up and he was trying to scare him, said court papers.
Later confronted with the tape, Andrews acknowledged he may have tapped or nudged the victim a few times, court documents said. The direct-care counselor also admitted he should have put the broom down and was not taught to use it in that manner by anyone at the facility.
Andrews was suspended with pay immediately after the incident, said authorities.
He was expected to be arraigned Friday in Stapleton Criminal Court on a misdemeanor charge of endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person.
In a statement, Courtney Burke, commissioner of the state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, said the agency takes incidents of abuse in its system "very seriously."
"We have initiated comprehensive health and safety reform efforts around reporting allegations and preventing abuse, as we continue to promote positive relationships to strengthen the system for the individuals we serve," she said.
A telephone message left Friday at Andrews' home wasn't immediately returned.