This morning, three families filed a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court alleging severe and pervasive abuse of disabled residents in a New York State group home called the Union Avenue IRA. According to New York State’s own Justice Center, staff gave disabled residents black eyes, punched them, pulled their hair, spit on them, shoved and punched them, kicked them, smashed their heads into walls, denied them food, and botched their medical care. The lawsuit also alleges that high-level State officials knew about the alleged abuse, but did nothing to stop it for months.
Staff refer to the group home as the “Bronx Zoo.” It is not known how many of these New York State employees still work for the State or with the disabled.
“It’s revolting, appalling, inhuman,” said Ilann M. Maazel, lead counsel, and a lawyer at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady. “This case represents a complete breakdown in hiring, training, investigation, discipline, and oversight. We call on Governor Cuomo and the Bronx District Attorney to get justice for these families, and to make sure no disabled person is abused in a New York State group home ever again.”
“Even by the standards of New York’s notorious system of care for disabled people, this case stands out as one of the most repugnant,” said David Lebowitz, another attorney for the residents’ families. “This is not a case of one or two bad apples, but an entrenched culture of cruelty tolerated by supervisors and State officials who turned their backs on vulnerable people in their care.”
Follow updates on the case here.