Exclusive: Family of group home residents in Bronx claiming abuse

Sarah Wallace has the Eyewitnss News exclusive. (WABC)
Family members of mentally challenged adults make disturbing claims of abuse against a group home.

State investigators are now confirming that they are looking into at least two incidents at the Union IRA home in the Bronx involving alleged staff abuse. Investigative Reporter Sarah Wallace spoke with devastated and outraged relatives.

These are loving relatives who are unable to keep their loved ones at home because they are so severely disabled. So the families have to trust strangers. Now, they believe that trust has been broken in the worst kind of way imaginable.

"When I saw Bianca, she had a blue and black eye and I said wow," said Carlos Ramos.

Ramos can't even bear to look at the pictures he took of his severely disabled daughter, Bianca.

Ramos visits his daughter every weekend at the Union IRA group home in the Bronx, when he saw this (black eye) during a trip in May, he says he demanded an investigation.

Sarah Wallace: "They told you that a staff member hit her in the eye?"

Ramos: Definitely...It was physical abuse."

He says he was never told who did it and what happened to them.

"How does somebody do that? That's what hurts me so much. How does anybody do that to my daughter?" asks Ramos.

Or to Tony Kearins' daughter Laura Kearins's sister. They say they were told earlier this week by staff at the Union IRA home that 45-year-old Debbie had been taken to Lincoln Hospital.

"They said it was allergies...yes, that she had rubbed her eye all night. Does that look like someone rubbing her eye, Sarah?"

But what is even more disturbing is this internal hospital report which says Debbie was abused in the emergency room by her escort from the group home who was quote "Verbally aggressive towards patient" and "violently pushed the patient." So much so that hospital police intervened.

"Debbie can't speak, she can't get on the telephone and say, Laura, they're doing something," adds Laura. She adds, "You go to bed and worry, what's happening to them in the middle of the night."

Tony Kearins was just as upset. "This facility needs to be cleaned out from top to bottom. There's been a coverup. We don't know what else is happening.

Metro IRA would not comment about any staff because of a state investigation. A spokeperson for the agency which oversees homes for the mentally challenged told Eyewitness News. "We will continue to work with the (state-run) Justice Center and law enforcement to ensure that employees who are accused of criminal conduct against individuals with developmental disabilities are thoroughly investigated and brought to justice if found guilty."

"You don't just hurt my daughter, you killed me," Tony said.

Related Topics:
news elder abuse investigators the investigators investigation investigations New York City
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