Rep. Zeldin, relatives of group home residents claim state agency not keeping loved ones safe

Posted: Updated:
CENTRAL ISLIP -

Rep. Lee Zeldin and relatives of some group home residents say a state agency that is supposed to keep their loved ones safe is failing.

The Justice Center was created in 2013 to protect group home residents against cases of abuse at the hands of group home workers. Instead, the relatives claim many allegations of abuse were never followed up on by the center.

Maria Baruch's son, Joseph, is in a group home. She says her son was purposely placed on a treadmill to tire him out, and he ended up suffering from bruises and a fractured neck.

Zeldin faults the Justice Center for not ensuring that a thorough background check was done on the employee.

"Richard Garnett, the group home worker who was charged with the crime, had a history of abuse in past facilities where he was suspected of committing multiple acts of abuse against others," says Zeldin.

A spokesperson for the Justice Center said in a statement that every allegation of abuse is thoroughly investigated and also referred to the local district attorney for an independent review. The spokesperson added that the center has offered to meet with Rep. Zeldin about his concerns.

In response to the Justice Center, Rep. Zeldin's office released a statement saying, "We are not aware of a single request from the Justice Center to meet with Congressman Zeldin. Rather than embrace and address the need for improvements and accountability at the Justice Center, they continue to publicly attack and try to discredit victims and anyone who sticks up for them. The Justice Center's visceral reaction to accountability and oversight is alarming. Instead of sidestepping, they need to step up to the plate and protect New Yorkers with disabilities."

Zeldin wants the Justice Department in Washington to look into the Justice Center's handling of these cases.

The relatives want a law requiring cameras to be installed inside of group homes to catch any cases of abuse.

 

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