Disabled Group Home Workers Charged With Running Fight Club
Two with the minds of pre-schoolers were pitted
Most people would have a hazy notion of what workers in a home for developmentally disabled adults do. Help the residents with everyday tasks, perhaps. But arranging fights among them and videoing the results would likely be missing from the list.
But that's exactly what prosecutors allege happened at the Independent Group Home Living facility in the tony Hamptons on New York's Long Island, according to a WCBS-TV report. The claim is that four workers encouraged one resident to attack another one. Erin McHenry, Justin McDonald, Stephen Komara, Rosemary Vanni now face felony charges.
Martial arts as sport go back to at least ancient Greece, where wrestling first became an Olympic sport. That is far removed from the face-offs in the movie Fight Club, which is how a prosecutor described what allegedly happened.
According to prosecutors, the defendants encouraged the two residents -- in their 50s but reportedly with the minds of preschoolers -- to fight. One knocked over the other, who was in a wheelchair. A worker supposedly recorded the actions on a cell phone while the other three laughed.
"These defendants encouraged two developmentally disabled adults to participate in, what I said on record, is a developmentally disabled fight club," said special prosecutor Jacqueline Kagan, of the New York State Justice Center for Protection of People with Special Needs.
Raw Story said that the case only came to the attention of prosecutors after one of the defendants emailed the video of the incident to someone, who passed it on to authorities. All four defendants were reportedly fired.
Independent Group Home Living was in the news last year when a developmentally disabled couple -- Paul Forziano and Hava Samuels -- were married but lived in different group homes. The couple sued both Independent Group Home Living and the Maryhaven Center of Hope, where Forziano and Samuels respectively lived, for the right to share a bedroom.
Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman