Here in New Brunswick, Canada, we have made little progress in providing decent residential care and treatment for severely autistic adults. The recent case of the Nova Scotia autistic man locked in his room for 15 days and left to urinate in a corner reminds us all of how desperate life can be for autistic adults particularly those who are too severely affected by their autism disorders to be able to tell their stories when abused by those who are supposed to provide them with care.
Few stories have been as revolting and disheartening though as that of the two staffers at the Plus Group Home facility in Long Island arrested in 2007 for repeatedly beating a 50 year old autistic woman with a coat hanger and a shoe. Another employee witnessed the assaults and torture and informed police. A recovered video camera recorded the assaults as reported by the New York Daily News:
Two staffers busted for beating autistic woman
BY BRENDAN BROSH AND JOTHAM SEDERSTROM DAILY NEWS WRITERS
Sunday, August 19th 2007, 4:00 AM
Cops nabbed two employees of a Long Island group home - and are looking for two more - who repeatedly beat a 50-year-old autistic woman with a coat hanger and a shoe as a hidden camera taped the attacks.
Nelly Gedeon, 20, and Johny Djhon-Felix, 33, employees of Plus Group Home Inc. in Uniondale, L.I., have been charged with torturing the disabled woman at least four times between Aug. 9 and 16.
The attacks were caught by a video camera cops installed in a vent.
"These people are hired as health care professionals and their job is to care for these people, so it's unfortunate they've abused their position and mistreated this patient," said Nassau County Police Sgt. Michael Williams.
The abuse was first caught on tape Aug. 9 when the employees were taped hitting the woman on the head. Three days later they were taped kicking her in the buttocks, hitting her in the head with a wooden coat hanger and hurling it at her head. Gedeon was also seen hitting the woman on the head with a shoe, police said. An Aug. 16 video showed Djhon-Felix hitting her on the head and shaking her while pulling her hair.
"The defendant [Djhon-Felix] noticed his actions were being recorded by a hidden camera that he disconnected and stole," cops said. The camera was recovered.
Plus Group Home Executive Director Terri Cancilla said an employee notified police of the suspected abuse.
"Safety is a priority," said Cancilla. "We hope this sends a message that this kind of abuse won't be tolerated."