Parents of children with autism face group home worker accused of abuse

Posted: Updated:
CENTRAL ISLIP -

Dozens of parents of children with autism faced a man accused of abuse at an East Islip group home.

Maria Barouch is still shaken up several months after she says her son, Joseph, was beaten at the hands of one of his caretakers at Life's WORC. She was joined by other parents Wednesday at the Central Islip courthouse.

According to police, Richard Garnett forced the victim to run on a treadmill until he fell off, fracturing his neck. The suspect then allegedly tried covering up the injuries.

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

Parents say the incident could have been prevented if the facility had security cameras within.

"Anyone who can't speak for themselves need us to speak for them, needs cameras to speak for them," says Annette Lagan, of the Nassau/Suffolk Autism Society of America.

There's a petition with 6,000 signatures that pushes to make cameras mandatory inside group homes. And some lawmakers in Albany have introduced bills on the issue. But for now, recording devices are not allowed because of privacy concerns.

After Wednesday's court hearing was finished, Joseph's family requested an emergency order of protection against the suspect, which the judge later issued.

Garnett is charged with one felony count of endangering the welfare of a disabled person.

Advocates say they'll follow Garnett to every court appearance, calling for the maximum penalty if he's convicted.

In a statement, Life's WORC says it took immediate action to ensure the safety and medical treatment of the individual. The organization also says it's cooperating with the investigation.

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