New York State Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs Special Prosecutor Patricia E. Gunning announced on Friday that Hilda Green, age 39 and a former employee of The Handicapped Children’s Association (HCA) was arraigned on a 3-count indictment in Broome County Court.
The charges stem from an investigation conducted by the Justice Center that alleges Hilda Green failed to properly monitor a 5-year-old, non-verbal child with autism in her care. The little girl wandered from an HCA facility into a busy downtown intersection and made her way into the Chenango River.
The incident, which occurred on Sept. 7, 2014, first came to the attention of law enforcement officials when individuals that saw the girl unattended placed multiple 9-1-1 calls. It was subsequently reported to the Justice Center’s Vulnerable Persons Central Register (VPCR) Hotline. A call center representative opened a case-tracking file and Justice Center investigators launched an investigation.
Hilda Green, who is a resident of Media, Pa., entered not guilty pleas to one count of Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person in the First degree, a class “E” Felony; one count of Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person in the Second degree, a class “A” Misdemeanor; and one count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child, a class “A” Misdemeanor.
The indictment, which was unsealed Friday morning, was based on Hilda Green’s failure to properly supervise the child while assigned to one-on-one supervision. The victim, who was wearing only a t-shirt, diaper and one shoe attempted to jump from the Court Street Bridge, was then stopped by a passerby, broke free and ran into the river. The child was rescued by bystanders and transported to a local hospital where she was treated and released.
The defendant was released under the supervision of the Broome County Probation Department. She had previously resigned her position. The case is being prosecuted by Justice Center Deputy Special Prosecutor Jacqueline Kagan and Assistant Special Prosecutor Andrew Botts.
The Handicapped Children’s Association offers parents, families and caregivers respite by providing short-term care for individuals with developmental disabilities. The facility is certified by the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), which is under the oversight of the Justice Center.
The Justice Center and its statewide hotline and incident reporting system began operations on June 30, 2013. It is staffed 24-hours a day, seven days a week by trained professionals who receive reports of allegations of abuse and neglect of people with special needs. Once a report is received by its Vulnerable Persons Central Register (VPCR) Hotline, it is logged and assessed. Serious cases of abuse or neglect are assigned to the Justice Center’s investigation team or, when appropriate, to a local law enforcement agency for follow-up.
The Justice Center also maintains a statewide registry of all persons who have been found to be responsible for serious or repeated acts of abuse and neglect. Once placed on the registry, known as the “Staff Exclusion List” or SEL, they are prohibited by law from ever working again with people with disabilities or special needs.
OPWDD is one of six state agencies under the jurisdiction of the Justice Center. The Justice Center also oversees certain facilities or programs that are operated, licensed or certified by the Office of Mental Health, (OMH), the Department of Health (DOH), the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), and the State Education Department (SED).