A state assemblyman is accusing a West Hempstead man and his employer, a Brookville-based agency serving the special needs community, with abusing his son at a residence in Plainview.
Harvey Weisenberg, D-Long Beach, and his wife, Ellen, filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Brooklyn Monday against AHRC Nassau, an agency that serves developmentally disabled people in residential settings around Long Island. The lawsuit alleges that on April 9, 2009, while working at the Plainview site, Dwayne Edwards, of West Hempstead, verbally abused and hit the Weisenbergs' son, Ricky. Ricky Weisenberg, 54, suffers from cerebral palsy and can't speak.
In the lawsuit, the Weisenbergs allege that their son was physically and psychologically abused at the agency's Plainview living facility, where Ricky is still living.
Weisenberg told Newsday that he learned of the abuse charge from AHRC Nassau officials in 2009. The agency was complying with legislation authored by Weisenberg in 2007, requiring that guardians be notified when allegations of abuse surface, but Newsday said the Weisenbergs filed the lawsuit three years afterward because they "thought the authorities [they] went to would do something, but they didn't." The suit asks for unspecified damages.
"The thought of someone hurting him is almost unspeakably painful to us ... We will continue to speak out on his behalf."
AHRC Nassau issued a statement Monday about the Weisenbergs' lawsuit, saying, "We are disappointed that our longtime friend would choose to name us in a lawsuit of this nature."
According to AHRC Nassau's statement "the employee was immediately relieved of his duties. An investigation was opened by an independent, internal unit of AHRC Nassau and all parties were notified that day." The investigation took one day and resulted in the firing of the employee, the statement said.
The elder Weisenberg is among the legislature's leading advocates for the disabled. Weisenberg grew up in Long Beach and was a teacher and police officer before entering public office. He and his wife have five children.
With reporting by Joe Dowd