Rockland Psych Center worker charged with abusing young patient

August 27, 2013

ORANGEBURG — A Pleasantville man has been charged with abusing a special-needs boy while working as a mental health therapy aide at the Rockland Children’s Psychiatric Center, officials said Thursday.

Lincoln Wallace of 460 Manville Road is facing misdemeanor counts of criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation and endangering the welfare of a child, according to the New York State Justice Center, an agency tasked with advocating for people with special needs.

Diane Ward, a spokeswoman for the Justice Center, said authorities have accused Wallace, 31, of taking a number of improper steps while caring for the boy.

“(He) allegedly approached a child in his care in a threatening manner, placed the child in an inappropriate restraint, knocked the child onto a table repeatedly, and refused to let go of the child when hospital staff attempted to intervene,” she said.

The child, whose identity, by law, has not been disclosed, suffered minor injuries to his face, neck and chest that required some medical treatment, Ward said.

Ward said a program director at the Psychiatric Center, which serves children and adolescents at the facility at 2 First Ave., took prompt action, reporting the incident to the Justice Center’s Vulnerable Persons Central Register.

The Justice Center then notified New York State Police and aided in the investigation, obtaining video footage of the alleged incident and photographing the victim.

No information about Wallace’s employment with the hospital was available, but the mental health therapy aide was said to have resigned from his position after the alleged abuse. On Aug. 15, he was arrested.

Staff at the Psychiatric Center on Thursday referred all questions to the state’s Office of Mental Health. A spokesman for that office would not discuss specifics of the case, but said any steps deemed necessary will be taken to avoid the potential for abuse in the future.

“Our agency will thoroughly evaluate the circumstances surrounding the incident to determine if additional actions are needed to ensure the continued health and safety of the children served at Rockland Children’s Psychiatric Center,” said Ben Rosen, a public information officer.

Rosen said his agency’s direct-care staff members receive training on how best to avoid abuse and neglect of their patients. Once Wallace’s actions came to light, management at the facility acted appropriately, he said.

Whether Wallace had obtained an attorney was not known Thursday. He could not be reached for comment.

Ward said the case will be prosecuted by the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office. District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said his office had not yet received the case and that he could offer no comment.

Wallace is to be arraigned in Orangetown Town Court on Wednesday.

Source: James O’Rourke, "Orangeburg psychiatric center aide accused of abusing special-needs boy," Journal News, August 22, 2013.


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