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Courts Question NY Disability Agency's Right To Prosecute

The Statue Of Justice
WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas

A New York state agency created to protect people in institutional care from abuse and neglect has lost three criminal cases this year after judges ruled that it didn't have the power to prosecute. 

The rulings could jeopardize past convictions and undermine efforts to root out mistreatment.

The three cases involved two youth home employees and a drug counselor charged with sexually abusing clients.

Judges in Albany County dismissed the cases after determining that the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs cannot prosecute cases unless it's working under the supervision of a district attorney or the attorney general.

Democratic Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, of Westchester, says the rulings amount to a "get out of jail free" card for abusers because the Justice Center hasn't been following the law.

A Justice Center spokesman declined to comment.

© 2017 AP

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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