Family: Man with autism forced to run treadmill, beaten by group home worker

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CENTRAL ISLIP -

An East Islip group home worker is accused of harming a man with autism who was in his care and later trying to cover up the incident.

According to court documents, 31-year-old Richard Garnett, of Middle Island, forced the victim to run on a treadmill to "tire him out" and refused to let him off. Joseph Barouch, 23, eventually fell. At that point, Garnett allegedly did not report the injury or seek medical attention for Barouch, out of fear of being fired.

The alleged incident happened Feb. 19 at a facility called Life's WORC.

Barouch's family sent News 12 photos taken after the alleged abuse that show bruising around his body. Authorities say he fractured his neck as result of the incident. Relatives say Barouch had to undergo two surgeries to replace discs in his neck.

Erin Spano, Barouch's aunt, says she's horrified by what happened. She adds that before being put on the treadmill, her nephew was ripped out of bed while still undressed and dragged to a basement. And once on the treadmill, she says Barouch was beaten when he got back up after falling.

"This is attempted murder," she says. "They tried to kill my nephew."

Garnett has been charged with one felony count of endangering the welfare of a disabled person. He was released without bail and is due back in court next month.

A spokesperson for Life's WORC says Garnett has been let go.

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