NORTON — Parents of developmentally delayed men are ripping the judge for the minimal jail sentence she gave a former staff worker at the Judge Rotenberg Center group home in Norton who pleaded guilty to assaulting their children.
Edward Weimer of Schenectady, N.Y., told The Sun Chronicle Monday that 26-year-old Andre H. Scott deserved a harsher sentence than the 90 days he was sentenced to serve last week in Fall River Superior Court.
Scott, of North Providence, was sentenced Friday by Judge Rosemary Connolly to serve 90 days of a 2 1/2-year jail with the balance of the jail term suspended for one year with probation, according to court records. He is free on $2,500 cash bail and does not have to start the sentence until Wednesday.
Scott pleaded guilty to three counts of assault and battery on a person with an intellectual disability and one count of intimidating a witness. He was given credit for the eight days he had already spent in jail before he was able to post bail.
Prosecutors recommended a 5- to 7 1/2-year prison term.
“My wife and I are completely and utterly disgusted by it,” Weimer said of the judge’s decision. After the judge issued her sentence, Weimer said his wife became nauseous and had to leave the courtroom.
“Essentially, it comes down to a slap on the wrist,” Weimer said.
When Scott was charged in the in the fall of 2016, prosecutors said they had video surveillance footage showing Scott punching and choking the three men ages 17, 20 and 21. The men were assaulted separately over a 45-minute period. Weimer’s son was 20 at the time and was forced behind a shower curtain where he was assaulted, Weimer said.
When he gave his victim-impact statement, Weimer said he did not ask for a specific sentence but “would have been satisfied with what the prosecutor was asking for.”
Weimer said Scott assaulted three individuals “who can’t speak for themselves, can’t run away and can’t call for help.”
“They have no voice of their own and it seems the justice system is not really protecting them,” Weimer said.
Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn III also criticized the sentence as too lenient. This was an extremely offensive and disturbing incident. I am very disappointed in the sentence imposed by the judge given the outrageous conduct exhibited by the defendant. Assaulting developmentally disabled residents at a facility where they should be protected cannot be tolerated. This violent beating of some of our most vulnerable victims deserved a more serious consequence for the defendant,” Quinn said.
Ava George of New York City, whose son suffered black and blue marks on his face and a split lip, said she was also unhappy with the sentence. She said Scott deserved something more in line with the prosecution’s recommendation.“If she had a child that was disabled,” George said, “I wonder how would she react.”
Scott, the mother said, “knew exactly what he was doing. He targeted the children who were non-verbal. He didn’t hit anyone who could speak because they could say ‘Andre hit me.’”
When center officials investigated, she said, Scott denied any wrongdoing. They found out what happened when they reviewed the surveillance tape, George said.
“I can understand if you had a bad day and you lost it. But he hit more than one child. He hit one and then moved on to the other,” George said. Scott, who had few brushes with the law prior to the incident, was fired from his job at the Rotenberg Center.
The Canton-based center treats people with behavioral, emotional and psychiatric problems as well as those with developmental delays or who are on the autism spectrum.
As a condition of his probation, Scott was ordered to obtain anger management counseling, have no contact with the victims and is prohibited from obtaining employment with “vulnerable populations” including the elderly and disabled, according to court records. Weimer criticized the judge for her lack of criminal experience and said that may have something to do with the sentence she handed down.
Before being named by Gov. Charlie Baker to the bench in 2016, Connolly was a civil litigator in state and federal courts for 30 years. She served in top posts in the state Attorney General’s office and U.S. Attorney’s office after starting in private practice. She graduated cum laude from Providence College and Suffolk University Law School, according to the governor’s office.