Monday, August 20, 2007

Autistic Woman Beaten, Can't Cry

LI cops: Wooden hanger, shoe used to beat autistic woman

Newsday, August 18, 2007

An autistic resident of a Long Island group home was beaten with a shoe and a wooden coat hanger, slapped in the head and kicked by several employees whose vicious assaults were captured by a hidden video camera, Nassau County police said.

The helpless 50-year-old victim was battered repeatedly at the PLUS Group Home Inc. by at least four employees after one of their co-workers alerted police to possible mistreatment of the residents inside the Uniondale facility, police said.

Group home management then installed the camera inside air conditioning vents at the home, according to Terri Cancilla, executive director of the PLUS Group Home Inc.

The camera quickly captured a series of assaults between Aug. 9-16, police said. PLUS workers Nelly Gedeon, 20, of Uniondale, and Johny Djhon-Felix, 33, of Queens, were arrested Friday and charged with harassment and endangering an incompetent person.

Djohn-Felix was additionally charged with grand larceny for disconnecting and stealing the hidden camera after noticing its presence during his shift early Thursday morning, police said. Two other PLUS employees were wanted for beating the unidentified woman.

Gedeon and Djhon-Felix were being arraigned Saturday in Hempstead, police said. Police couldn't say whether they had lawyers, and their home telephone numbers werent' listed.

Offices at Long Island-based PLUS, which provides housing and care for autistic adults, were closed Saturday. An e-mail seeking comment on the arrests was not returned.

According to police, there were four separate assaults.

In the first incident, one of the suspects still at large was captured striking the victim in the head with her hand several times on Aug. 9. Three days later, the second wanted suspect kicked the woman in her buttocks, smashed her in the head with a wooden coat hanger and then threw the hanger at the woman's head.

That same day, health care aide Gedeon used a shoe to batter the victim, hitting her in the head. Djhon-Felix, another aide, used a handful of the woman's hair to shake her back and forth during the last incident Thursday.

Authorities said the victim can not speak or convey emotions or pain because of her disease, which is characterized by impaired social interaction.

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