Report finds abuse at group home where disabled man found bruised, paralyzed
Mike Beaudet Producer Kevin Rothstein
BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com)--The family of a disabled man found bruised and paralyzed on the bedroom floor of his group home is still fighting for answers after a new investigation found suspicious behavior from a worker at the home but still doesn’t say how he came to be so badly hurt.
The family of Paul Stanizzi, who has never been able to talk, believes he was abused at the group home in Bedford but the Middlesex District Attorney’s office declined to press charges, saying no criminal acts could be proven.
But newly-released Disabled Persons Protection Commission investigative report fuels the family’s suspicion by substantiating that abuse occurred but still leaving unanswered the question of how he got his injuries. The report was finished in March but first obtained by the advocacy group COFAR – the Massachusetts Coalition of Families and Advocates.
“Some of the findings of the report are very, very concerning,” said attorney Ben Novotny, who represents the Stanizzi family. “The bruising all over the face, on the arms, the legs, the footprint on the back of the legs are probably most concerning piece of evidence that's come to light.”
In addition to detailing the injuries, the DPPC report substantiated abuse in so far as the sole group home worker on duty admitted that he found Stanizzi apparently paralyzed on the floor but moved him to his bed anyway, and then waited approximately 25 minutes before calling 911.
Once at the hospital, an MRI found damage to the vertebrae around Paul’s neck.
While the report does not say how Stanizzi was injured, it’s clear the overnight worker was suspected.
He couldn’t explain how he had gotten a fresh scratch on his face, a statement that a Bedford police detective found “suspicious”. The worker admitted making several false statements to investigators, for example saying Stanizzi may have gotten a black eye because he sometimes hits himself in the face. He later admitted Stanizzi doesn’t hit himself in the face.
The worker denied assaulting Paul, but investigators were skeptical.
“The truthfulness of (the alleged abuser's) denial is called into question by the false statements he provided during this investigation”, the report says.
A spokesperson for the Edinburg Center, which runs the group home where the incident occurred, said in a statement, "The Edinburg Center cannot comment given pending legal action but we stand behind the quality care we provide for all of our clients."
While the criminal investigation is over, the family’s investigation is far from it – and they hope the DA will at some point consider re-opening the case.
“Obviously we and the family are disappointed by the fact that no criminal charges have issued. At the same time that's not going to change, inhibit or redirect anything that we are doing,” said Novotny.