NYS Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs Special Prosecutor Patricia E. Gunning announced the arrest of a former employee of the Shield Institute, Inc. on charges of endangerment and harassment for striking a person with profound disabilities who was in a wheelchair.

June Callender (DOB: 02/01/56) of Brooklyn, was charged with: Attempted Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person in the First Degree, a class A misdemeanor; Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent or Physically Disabled Person in the Second Degree, a class A misdemeanor; and Harassment in the Second Degree, a violation.

“This victim is completely unable to care for himself or defend himself,” said Special Prosecutor Gunning. “Defendants, like this one, who target the vulnerable, will be held accountable.”

Callender, an assistant habilitation specialist, was terminated from her position at the Shield Institute, Inc. The Justice Center led the investigation and Justice Center Assistant Special prosecutor Edwin Ferguson is leading the prosecution. Callender was arraigned before the Honorable Joanne Watters of Manhattan Criminal Court and is scheduled to return to court on June 28.

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. Through the services provided by the Justice Center’s Individual and Family Support Unit – victims, their families, personal representatives and guardians receive guidance and information about the reporting and investigation process and support during criminal cases and court proceedings.

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