Grand Jury Indicts Former IGHL Employees Accused Of Endangering Clients


Three of the four former direct care workers at a Southampton Town assisted living facility arrested last fall and charged with endangering the welfare of an incompetent person in February were indicted by a grand jury last week.

Rosemary Vanni, 44, of Eastport, Stephen Komara, 58, of East Moriches and Erin McHenry, 28, of Brookhaven were each indicted on two charges of first-degree endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person, a felony, as well as two counts of second-degree endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person, a misdemeanor, on Friday, according to their respective lawyers and court documents available online through the New York State Unified Court System.

The fourth former employee of Independent Group Home Living, or IGHL, 19-year-old Justin McDonald of Lindenhurst, did not show up in the online court record system, and his lawyer, Richard H. Lovell of Ozone Park, declined to comment on the case after appearing in Southampton Town Justice Court Tuesday morning.

“We’ll adjudicate in the courtroom, not the press,” Mr. Lovell said before leaving Town Justice Barbara Wilson’s courtroom.

The four employees are accused of allowing two developmentally disabled men in their 50s, who were living at an IGHL home in an undisclosed location in the town, to fight each other sometime between late October and mid-November, recording the incident on video. The four were the only employees on site at the time.

According to accusatory documents from the Southampton Town Justice Court, Mr. McDonald told police that Ms. McHenry goaded the men into fighting each other by encouraging one to hit her so the other would come to her defense. Neither man required medical attention after the fight, but according to court documents, during the incident, one of the men grabbed the other, who was confined to a wheelchair, by the neck, threw him to the ground, and then proceeded to step on his head and neck. Police said both men have the mental capacity of a child between the ages of 3 and 5.

Ms. McHenry, who told investigators that she unsuccessfully tried to stop the two men from fighting, declined to comment Tuesday morning after making an appearance in Town Justice Court.

Daniel Rodgers, the Southampton Village-based attorney representing Ms. Vanni, said the only evidence of the incident is cellphone video footage allegedly shot by Mr. McDonald, which does not show his client having any involvement. Mr. Rodgers said he is willing to go to trial to fight the indictment. “I’m going to ask that all the charges be dropped,” he said on Monday evening.

Mr. McDonald was 18 at the time of the incident, which could qualify him for youthful offender status because the charge is not a sexual or armed offense, and because he has no prior felony convictions. If the court has granted him this status, any accusatory documents against him could be sealed.

Mr. Komara’s lawyer, Eileen Powers of Riverhead, did not return calls seeking comment.

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