According to Southampton Town police, the incident was reported to the New York State Justice Center for the protection of people with special needs hot line.
On Thursday, NYS Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs Special Prosecutor Patricia E. Gunning announced that three direct care workers, employed by Independent Group Home Living Program, Inc. were arraigned on felony charges for allegedly watching and encouraging an individual with developmental disabilities in their care to attack another man with disabilities.
The group home is located in Southampton Town, said Southampton Detective Sgt. Lisa Costa, but due to the fact that the individuals involved are "unable to defend themselves," the location is not being disclosed.
After receiving the report on the hot line, a call center representative opened a case tracking file, police said.
Southampton Police Department initiated a criminal investigation and made the arrests after obtaining "disturbing
cell phone video," which recorded the incident. In the video, all four defendants are either seen or heard laughing as
the attack transpired, police said.
“These arrests should serve as a warning that the Justice Center and the district attorneys of this state will not hesitate to prosecute behavior that violates, endangers or causes injuries to vulnerable New Yorkers,” Gunning said. “We commend the efforts of the Southampton Police detectives who investigated this incident. This is an example of the close collaboration we seek to achieve with dedicated local law enforcement professionals across the state to ensure that justice will be served.”
Arrested were Erin McHenry, 29, of Brookhaven, 29, Justin McDonald, 19, of Lindenhurst, and Stephan Komara, 58, of East Moriches. They were charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person in the first degree, a felony.
Bail was sent at $10,000 for each of the three defendants; they were remanded to the Suffolk County Correctional Facility.
A bench warrant was initially issued for a fourth defendant, Rosemary Vanni, 44, of Eastport; she also faces two felony counts of endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person. At 3:20 p.m. on Thursday, Southampton Town Police located and arrested Vanni on the outstanding Bench Warrant for failing to appear in court for her arraignment. She will be held overnight and be brought to Southampton Town Justice Court on Friday.
All four defendants were terminated from their positions, police said.
“IGHL acted swiftly in the interest of their clients and was instrumental in our successful investigation,” said Costa.
The case is being prosecuted by Justice Center Deputy Special Prosecutor Jacqueline Kagan.