Former East Islip group home worker pleads guilty to involvement of abuse of autistic man

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A former East Islip group home worker pleaded guilty in connection to an incident that hospitalized an autistic man. 

Richard Garnett admitted to his involvement in an abuse case that left 23-year-old Joseph Barouche seriously injured.

Prosecutors say the incident happened in February at an East Islip group home called Life's WORC.

Family members of the victim say Garnett grabbed Barouche out of his bed naked and forced him to walk on a treadmill until he fell and fractured his neck. “He has a scar that we're going to look at for the rest of our lives and we're never going to forget,” says Erin Spano, the victim’s aunt.

However, Garnett's attorney says the only thing his client is responsible for is not stopping what happened to Barouche at the hands of other employees. "He's acknowledging and taking responsibility for the fact that what was going on, he should've put a stop to it," says his attorney, Michaelangelo Matera.

As part of his plea deal, the judge sentenced Garnett to one year of probation. If he stays out of trouble, his felony conviction will change to a misdemeanor and he'll get an additional three years of probation.

Spano says the family doesn't think any amount of probation is punishment enough. She says, "He should be in jail for the rest of his life for what he did to my nephew.” 

Spano adds, “We're going to make sure that Mr. Garnett never works in the health care field again and that no other families are hurt. That's how you move on. We're going to make sure that this never happens again.”

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