Disabled Group Home Workers Charged With Running Fight Club

Two with the minds of pre-schoolers were pitted

WCBS-TVSpecial prosecutor Jacqueline Kagan discusses the case.

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.

"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.

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.

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

Erik Sherman

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Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman

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Truth

Jimmy who are you to be making such a stupid comment. Andrea was simply giving her opinion about the idiots who who did this crime. Why does it bother you? Does it bother you because you are stupid enough that you would have done the same thing. Who are you Jimmy to make any comment bout another persons comment. Does that make you a judgemental person, who are you to judge? Now that is why the whole who are you to judge comment is ignorant. I bet you would never say that comment to someone who agreed with your dumb ass. Yes that is my opinion of you Jimmy but please Dont judge me based on my opinion. You know what Jimmy I really Dont care if you do judge me it is no skin off my back I really could not care less what you think. Have a nice life dummy.

February 14 2014 at 7:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Truth's comment
Tim-May

Oh, I see how this goes, Jimmy isn't allowed to comment on something someone else says, but you are allowed to comment about Jimmy. Got it.

February 17 2014 at 1:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jimmy Saunders

Andrea...who u to judge anyone?

February 13 2014 at 10:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jimmy Saunders

Andrea needs to comment about everything

February 13 2014 at 10:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
funny.sue

I was a supervisor for mentally challenged adults for a number of years, It was one of the most challenging and most rewarding positions I have ever had. You to see beauty and love in each one. We all could learn a lot from their simply and honest.

February 12 2014 at 9:32 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
barrybosward

The really sad thing her is, if these people had done this to animals they would be in jail. No questions about it. Why is there more protection under the law for dogs then for people with diminished mental abilities?

February 12 2014 at 9:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Andrea Giangreco

Many people don't care to work in mental health. And many people who choose that field shouldn't be allowed to have people in need depending on them. They are on a power trip. Such a nightmare.

February 11 2014 at 7:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Andrea Giangreco

I'm not surprised at all. Many people who work in mental health chose that field because they enjoy manipulating and hurting people. And mental health patients already have a tough time. It is outlandish how Crappy mental health patients are treated. Anyone who says they don't understand this is either naive, turning a blind eye, or approves of it. Which many people in general of course frown upon people with mental health issues. What if it was you? Its not like people wake up one day and decides their life would be better if they have schizophrenia, downs syndrome, or dyslexia. Get real

February 11 2014 at 7:01 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Andrea Giangreco's comment
Tim-May

First off, this article isn't about people with mental health issues, it's about people with developmental disabilities. And since when is Down Syndrome (no s at the end of Down, genius) and dyslexia a mental health issue?

Please save your nonsense and dribble for more appropriate articles like something that deals with the Kardashians or Lindsey Lohan.

February 17 2014 at 1:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Eddie Bennett

What goes around comes around. Their going to be members in a fight club in prison now so they will see what its like to have to fight against their will

February 11 2014 at 3:24 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Rose Cooper

There are only 3 rules to developmentally disabled fight club. Rule number one is you don't talk about developmentally disabled fight club. Rule two is you don't talk about developmentally disabled fight club, and rule three is no fighting with arm braces

February 10 2014 at 10:12 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Rose Cooper's comment
Andrea Giangreco

Girl that was a cruel joke. I hope you don't work with people in need. Obviously you shouldn't. If you are smart, you would be considerate. Congrats, you aren't

February 11 2014 at 7:15 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
gizzardbom

I work in a group home, it would be interesting to hear what the defendants had to say about the situation. Of course it was just plain wrong of them to do this, but their explanation would certainly be interesting. I would think it would be something like, "well they were fighting all the time anyway." I would be concerned if I had a loved one in a group home as well, no one loves your loved ones, or cares for them like you do, (for the most part anyway).

February 10 2014 at 7:55 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to gizzardbom's comment
Andrea Giangreco

Well then you are good. And its wonderful that you are caring. Thanks

February 11 2014 at 7:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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