Father on Long Island claims he caught son's caretaker in sexual act, attorney says no crime occurred

NASSAU COUNTY (WABC) -- Eyewitness News spoke exclusively on Thursday with the parents of a non-verbal boy with developmental delays who reported to police that the boy's caretaker masturbated in front of their naked son.

The boy's father, whose name Eyewitness News is not disclosing because of the sensitive nature of the case, told reporter Kristin Thorne that last Tuesday he walked into his 6-year-old son's bedroom and found his son naked standing up in front of the boy's caretaker 60-year-old Thomas Tana who was kneeling in front of the boy and was also naked. The father said Tana was masturbating.

"He looked at me and said, 'Uh oh, I'm sorry, please don't report me. I don't want my life ruined' and then he started to get dressed," the father said.

The father said he calmly told Tana to leave their Westbury house. He was worried that an angry reaction would upset his son.

"My son being a special needs child is very sensitive to emotions being exhibited by other adults," he said. "I had to think of how this was going to impact my son in the long run."

Tana left the house and the father called Nassau County Police.

Police officers located Tana at his home in Commack and placed him under arrest. He's being charged with Endangering the Welfare of a Physically Disabled Person and Endangering the Welfare of a Child. He pled not guilty to the charges.

The boy's parents brought their son to the hospital for evaluation.

"We had to have him examined. It was very difficult, so we had to hold him down," the boy's mother said.

The boy's mother said she found Tana on Facebook in a special needs group. She said Tana told her he specialized in working with non-verbal small children.

Tana's attorney told Eyewitness News that rushing to judgment could be catastrophic in a case like this because Tana is innocent.

"I think upon a full and fair investigation I think the DA's Office, as well as the judge or if this case gets litigated, will find that no crime actually happened," attorney Michael Alber said.

Tana's resume states that he has been a volunteer with Tri Community and Youth Agency in Huntington since 2014. He said he helped with homework and played with children.

Debbie Rimler, the Director of the organization, said Tana has not volunteered with her group in three or four years. Rimler said when he was a volunteer he was always supervised on the property and never was allowed to leave the property with the children. She said all of the rooms in the building have surveillance cameras.

Rimler said she recalled when Tana stopped volunteering he said he was going to work one-on-one with children with disabilities.

Eyewitness News spoke with another mother from Bohemia who said she hired Tana in 2018 through AIM Services based in Saratoga. The organization provides residential and community-based services to people with disabilities.

Tana said on his resume, he is "cleared" with AIM.

The mother said she notified AIM several times that she was concerned about what Tana was doing with her young non-verbal son with autism. She said her son suddenly began masturbating and was scared to get in the shower. She said she received a call from a person in Human Resources at AIM last week asking her about the complaints she filed two years ago.

Christopher Lyons, the group's Executive Director, said Tana has not worked with the organization in the past 18 months.

Lyons referred Eyewitness News to the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) for more information on Tana.

A spokesperson for OPWDD said in a statement to Eyewitness News, "The accused staff member is not and has never been an employee of OPWDD. OPWDD is fully cooperating with local authorities on an investigation into this incident."

Tana had a virtual court appearance with a Nassau County judge on Thursday. The case was adjourned to January 12.

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