Autistic man allegedly branded with potato masher

May 20, 2013 2:48:33 PM PDT
A 24-year-old autistic man was allegedly burned and branded with a potato masher as punishment at a group home.

Mayra Sandoval wept uncontrollably as she tried to speak about her son's alleged assault at a group home in the Bronx.

24-year-old Eduardo Sandoval, described by family as severely autistic and unable to speak, has burned-in scars on his side, chest, and arm, allegedly inflicted by staff members.

"Eduardo Sandoval was burned and tortured like an animal. He was branded by an instrument very similar to this," said Fernando Mateo, the family's spokesman.

That instrument is believed to have been a potato masher that police called to the scene reportedly found locked in a basement safe.

Two staffers initially arrested for assault were later released because of insufficient evidence.

"Instead of caring for him, this man with the mind of a 2-year-old was tortured right here. Right here in this group home," said Sanford Rubenstein, the family's attorney.

Attorney Sanford Rubinstein has filed suit on the Sandoval family's behalf, accusing the two workers and the group homes' operator, Leake and Watts, of negligence.

A spokesman for Leake and Watts told Eyewitness News that after the incident, "We took full and decisive action." That action included terminating staff and mandating additional training and safety systems.

But the family of Eduardo Sandoval says that doesn't go far enough to make up for such inhumane treatment.

"We demand that action be taken by the state so that this never happens to anyone else," Mateo said.