2 caregivers arrested for alleged abuse of disabled group home resident

CHELMSFORD, Mass. — Two caregivers faced a judge Wednesday, accused of verbally and physically abusing a 50-year-old disabled man.

Jennifer Nganga, 60, and Daniel Maina, 41, are caregivers at Northeast Residential Services in Chelmsford. On Wednesday, they faced a judge after they were arrested for hitting, slapping and abusing 50-year-old Paul Stanizzi.

"He's been taking the abuse I think for a long time," said Paul's mother, Ruth Stanizzi.

Ruth says her son is severely disabled and unable to speak. He's lived in group homes for most of his life. In October, Paul suffered serious bruises and cuts to his head and face. Right away, the family felt something was not right.

"Kept saying he fell out of bed, or he fell on the way into his room. We got three different stories at the beginning of this," said Stanizzi.

After Paul was injured in October, the family grew suspicious. They decided to set up a hidden camera inside of his group home in Chelmsford. This week, the family says they turned over hours of footage to Chelmsford Police they say shows workers hitting, slapping and verbally abusing Paul.

"One woman had a closed fist and was punching Paul in the side of his head. Another man, a different person was hitting him on the top of his head," said Ruth.

"They would shove him back down, shove his head back down, slap in on the back of the next," said Paul's brother Joe. "I've watched the videos over and over again and I just can't believe what I see."

Unfortunately, the family has been through this before. In 2013, Boston 25 News reported on allegations Paul was being abused inside the Edinburg Center in Bedford. Paul's neck was broke and he was bloodied and bruised. The family accused the center of abusing Paul so they removed him from Bedford and moved him to the Chelmsford facility.

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Now, it's happening again.

"I can't believe people would do that to somebody who is totally defenseless," said Ruth.

"I want this to end with everybody involved and everybody that knew this was going on in prison. Locked up, punished somehow," said Joe.

Boston 25 News made several attempts to contact Northeast Residential Services. Nganga and Maina were released Wednesday on their own recognizance. They have been ordered not to work in any group homes.

The Department of Developmental Services sent Boston 25 News the following statement on the arrests:

"The Department of Developmental Services (DDS) was deeply disturbed to learn of these horrible allegations and has a zero tolerance policy for abuse and neglect of individuals in its care.

Immediately upon being notified of the allegations, DDS placed the two employees suspected of abuse on unpaid leave. Additional precautionary steps have been taken including placing the employees' supervisor and other group home staff on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation.

Nursing staff have evaluated the other residents to ensure that they are safe and healthy.  DDS has secured staff from other locations to staff the home."

•    Both employees underwent background checks prior to being hired by DDS and were fingerprinted in compliance with federal regulation. Both employees passed their background checks and had no disciplinary action in their employee records prior to the alleged incident. 
•    As soon as DDS receives any allegation of abuse of its clients, DDS immediately refers the matter to the Disabled Persons Protection Commission and contacts local law enforcement. 
•    Client family members are encouraged to contact DDS if there is any concern about their loved one's safety.

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