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Inspector General Says State Agencies Failed In Jonathan Carey Abuse Investigation
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 12, 2008

ALBANY, NEW YORK--Two state agencies that are responsible for the health and safety of people with disabilities failed to fully investigate allegations of abuse at a privately-run institution and fully communicate what they found to one boy's parents, state lawmakers, and the governor, the New York Inspector General says.

In a 244-page report released Wednesday, Inspector General Joseph Fisch criticized the state Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities, and the Office of Mental Retardation and Development Disabilities for how they handled an investigation prompted by the parents of Jonathan Carey, who had autism.

Michael and Lisa Carey had claimed that staff at the Anderson School for Autism had mistreated Jonathan when he was housed at the facility in 2003 and 2004. The couple pulled the boy out of the facility and transferred him to the state-run O.D. Heck Developmental Center. They then sued the Anderson School and launched a campaign for more transparency of staff and incident records.

That campaign resulted in state lawmakers last year passing "Jonathan's Law", which allows people to review abuse and neglect records of institution residents and staff.

Unfortunately, Jonathan died on February 15, 2007 after Heck Developmental Center worker Edwin Tirado Jr. suffocated him during a restraint in the back of a facility van.

The death of Jonathan, who was 13 years old when he died, was not part of Fisch's investigation.

Fisch said both state agencies conducted a "shoddy'' investigation of abuse and neglect allegations at Anderson School; misrepresented the extent of their work; and failed to fully address potential violations at the facility. He concluded, however, that there had not been any deliberate "cover up", as the Careys had suggested.

The Inspector General ended the report with a list of 20 recommendations, including making improvements in communicating with parents, lawmakers, the governor and the public about conditions for people with disabilities.

Last week, Governor David A. Paterson proposed legislation designed to improve the safety of children in residential programs operated or licensed by the state. The bill would define certain behaviors - such as kicking, biting, or withholding food - as acts of abuse, even when they do not result in an injury to the child. It would also expand the Statewide Central Register to cover children in residential programs for the treatment of alcohol or substance abuse.

"It is an important extension of protections for our most vulnerable children," Fisch said of Paterson's proposal. "The Governor's proposed legislative reforms and our recommendations give better support and guidelines to the thousands of dedicated caregivers who work tirelessly with children across New York State."

"Inspector general finds fault with agencies in autism case" (Ithaca Journal)

"Critical Examination of State Agency Investigations into Allegations of Abuse of Jonathan Carey" (Office of the Inspector General)

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