Justice Center Hotline Call Results in 1st Arrest
A call from a service provider to the Justice Center's Vulnerable Persons Central Register Hotline (VPCR) has lead to the arrest of a counselor at a Westchester County mental health treatment facility on charges that he raped and sexually abused a woman with special needs who was in his care.
The arrest of Nelson Acevedo, 42, an employee of The Guidance Center of Westchester, followed an investigation by the New Rochelle Police Department and the Westchester County District Attorney's office, with support from Justice Center investigators and its Special Prosecutor.
The facility where Acevedo worked is certified by the state Office of Mental Health and is one of six state agencies under the juristiction of the Justice Center.
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Justice Center Releases
1st Month Progress Report
The Justice Center has released a report summarizing its first month of operation, showing that its Vulnerable Persons Central Register Hotline (VPCR) responded to over 7,200 calls and 1,300 cases of alleged abuse and neglect that have required investigation.
All reported incidents are assessed, classified and logged into a computerized case management system. The most serious cases are generally assigned to Justice Center investigators, while allegations of lesser offenses are routed to the appropriate state agency or law enforcement for investigation or review. Each case is tracked until resolution, with state agencies required to report back their findings on referred cases so they can be reviewed by the Justice Center.
As a result of these calls, the Justice Center's Special Prosecutor/Inspector General, Patricia Gunning, is currently overseeing the investigation of approximately 30 cases that may involve criminal activity that could result in the arrest and prosecution of custodians alleged to have abused people with special needs who are in their care.
Each call that comes into the Hotline is classified into one of the following categories:
- Abuse and neglect;
- A significant incident with the potential to result in harm to the health, safety or welfare of a service recipient, or;
- A non-reportable incident that falls outside the jurisdiction of the Justice Center or does not rise to the level of the other classifications.
Reports to the VPCR Hotline come from many sources, including individuals with special needs who are receiving services, “mandated reporters” who comprise custodians, other health care professionals and law enforcement, as well as families and the general public. Anyone who witnesses or suspects the abuse or neglect of a person with special needs should make a report to the Justice Center VPCR Hotline by calling 1-855-373-2122. It is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by 70 highly-trained call center representatives.
The Justice Center currently employs over 70 specially trained investigators, who also provide on-site coverage on a 24/7 basis. Abuse and neglect cases sent to them are reviewed and triaged within a matter of hours from the time they are received. To read the Justice Center's entire report, click here.