- Associated Press - Monday, December 1, 2014

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - An advocate for the disabled has sued the Cuomo administration for detailed disclosures about crimes against disabled individuals in state care and is questioning why thousands of calls to the state’s abuse hotline didn’t lead to investigations.

The suit filed last week in state court cited data from the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs showing that of more than 70,000 calls in the hotline’s first 11 months, only 1,402 were assigned to its investigators. Another 7,572 cases were referred back to state agencies that provide services and contract with nonprofits.

The suit by the Jonathan Carey Foundation claims the data provided under New York’s Freedom of Information Law after months of delays omitted details about crimes. The filing also asks why almost 90 percent of the reports were not assigned for investigation.

“This center was created for the purpose of assuring that people with disabilities are protected so that they may avoid the fate of my son,” wrote Michael Carey, director of the foundation named for his 13-year-old autistic son who was smothered by an aide in 2007 while in state care. “It is my hope that this review and analysis of the statistical data will ensure that the Justice Center is utilizing the taxpayer’s money properly to investigate abuse so no child will ever have to suffer due to inadequate protection.”

According to the Justice Center, all reports of abuse and neglect are investigated, with its staff investigating the most serious allegations and reviewing investigations delegated to the service agencies. The 70,000 reports included 40 percent outside its jurisdiction, including private homes and nursing homes; 38 percent “significant incidents” with potential to do harm, such as avoidable use of restraints; and 13,464 allegations of abuse or neglect, often with more than one call about a single case, the center said.

The data - provided by the center in November of reports and cases received between June 2013 and May - showed 28 of 3,688 death reports were investigated involving disabled individuals in state-funded residences or getting services. The center said six of the cases have been closed: four after finding abuse or neglect, and two others with allegations not substantiated. All deaths are reviewed, and the vast majority are from natural causes, according to the center.

The data listed 779 substantiated abuse and neglect allegations during the period, 73 prosecutions mostly by local district attorneys and 13 individuals put on a do-not-hire list.

The center’s records access officer, Jan Perlin, noted in her November response that it had no records that fit many of the foundation’s queries, including use of the terms “maltreatment,” ”possible criminal act” and “deaths ruled homicides.”

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