MOTT HAVEN, The Bronx – Staff members at a New York City group home were accused of punching, kicking and spitting on disabled residents in a lawsuit filed by families of the victims on Monday.
The federal lawsuit says staff at the Union Avenue IRA, located in the Bronx' Mott Haven neighborhood, referred to the facility as the "Bronx zoo" and also denied residents food and botched their medical care.
Images provided by family attorney Ilann Maazel showed multiple victims suffering from various injuries, including a black eye, large bruises to the leg, and cuts across his or her back.
“We need serious reform," Maazel told WPIX. "We need a complete break down in hiring, in training, in discipline, in oversight. We’re not talking about one incident on one day. We’re talking about a lot of abuse by a lot of people over a long period of time.”
The lawsuit seeking unspecified damages was filed Monday in Manhattan. The defendants are six staff, additional unnamed staff, eight supervisors and officials at the state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.
The lawsuit also says evidence of abuse goes back a decade and alleges the office received an August 2014 staff whistleblower letter but didn't respond for weeks.
The NYC State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, which operates the facility, said on Monday that abuse of anyone in its care is unacceptable and that it referred the case to the Justice Center in 2014, put accused staff on administrative leave and is taking disciplinary action against those responsible.