Video appears to show abuse at East Hartford group home - WFSB 3 Connecticut

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Video appears to show abuse at East Hartford group home


WARNING: The video may be disturbing to some viewers. An employee at a group home in East Hartford has been suspended without pay and a police investigation is now under way after a video surfaced that appears to show abuse.

The video was dropped off to the state, the private company that runs the group home and to the Channel 3 Eyewitness News I-Team.

The video that the I-Team received came with few details, just a label that said "The Perfect Employee."

When Chief Investigative Reporter Eric Parker took a look at the video, he said he was shocked at what he saw.

The same reaction happened at the highest levels of the state Department of Developmental Services.

The video had no name and no date - just the label that claimed it was filed at the East Hartford group home.

The commissioner of the Department of Developmental Service saw the video and called it the most heinous act he's witnessed in 40 years of working with disabled adults.

There's a kick to the gut, there's several blows with what appears to be a belt and then a woman is dragged off by her hair.

The group home is run by a company called Options Unlimited out of Bloomfield.

There are between four and six intellectually disabled adults that live there with 24-hour care.

Commissioner Terrence Macy said he only watched seconds of the video before knowing that a crime was committed.

Macy said it was a terrible incident and wants to prosecute the person responsible to the fullest extent.

"I am outraged by the images in this video," Macy said in a statement. "This is absolutely unacceptable. Our immediate response was to ensure the accused staffer was removed from the premises and the victim is getting the proper care and support. DDS has begun our own investigation in conjunction with the investigation by the East Hartford police, and we will work with authorities to aggressively prosecute any wrongdoing."

After seeing the video, state staff rushed to check on the residents of the home, but found no bruises or other signs of recent abuse. 

The I-Team learned that the very same group home was the focus of an abuse investigation last year. 

After that investigation, cameras were installed in the home. 

Since this abuse wasn't seen on those cameras, the state believes the video was shot at least four to five months ago.  

Those cameras were installed after several staff members were fired. 

This latest investigation will also try to determine who shot this video.

State officials said there are 16,000 people that care for disabled adults and said this is a very rare situation.

The company that runs the home serves about two dozen adults in six group homes.

When the I-Team called Options Unlimited in Bloomfield, the person on the phone exclaimed "No comment!" and immediately hung up the phone.

However, Options Unlimited officials released a statement a short time later that said, "Options Unlimited Inc. is a nonprofit private agency under contract with the State Department of Developmental Services (DDS). We are deeply saddened and appalled by this incident. As soon as we became aware of it, we took prompt action and placed the  employee on unpaid administrative leave. We are working closely with DDS and the East Hartford Police Department on the investigation."

The state said the person who shot the video could also be the target of an investigation as well.

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