Batavia, NY – NYS Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs Special Prosecutor Patricia E. Gunning announced an employee of the NYS School for the Blind was arrested for harassing and endangering three children in his care.

Kenneth L. Darch (DOB: 04/07/1959) of Batavia is charged with three counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child in the Second Degree, a class “A” misdemeanor, and two counts of Harassment in the Second Degree, a violation.  The charges stem from an incident in which the defendant allegedly struck two of the children on an outing and used abusive language against them. The defendant additionally is alleged to have taunted all three by directing their bus driver to take them to a local jail, with the threat of incarceration.

The NYS School for the Blind is operated by the State Education Department. Darch, a Recreation Therapist, was arraigned before the Honorable Robert Balbick of Batavia City Court and is scheduled to reappear in court March 7. Darch has been placed on administrative leave.

“People with special needs should never be intimidated, frightened or harassed by the very people who are responsible for caring for them,” said Special Prosecutor Gunning. “This case came to light because a conscientious employee witnessed the alleged abuse and reported it.  We are grateful to those who step up and call out workers who choose to taunt and threaten children instead of doing their jobs, like this defendant is alleged to have done.”

Supervising Assistant Special Prosecutor Jennifer A. Whitman is prosecuting the case. Special Prosecutor Gunning thanked the Batavia City Police Department, which investigated the case, with assistance from the Justice Center.

About the Justice Center

The Justice Center began operations on June 30, 2013. It operates a toll-free hotline that receives reports of allegations of abuse, neglect and significant incidents 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Anyone who witnesses or suspects the abuse or neglect of a person with special needs can make a report. Mandated reporters who have reasonable cause to suspect that a reportable incident has occurred by staff must report it to the Justice Center immediately upon discovery. The Justice Center is not a first responder, so if a report involves an emergency situation, the caller is instructed to hang up and dial 9-1-1.

The Justice Center is authorized to investigate all reports of abuse and neglect, pursue administrative sanctions against staff found responsible for misconduct and its Special Prosecutor/Inspector General shares jurisdiction with local district attorneys to prosecute criminal offense allegations. The Justice Center notifies local district attorneys of all potential criminal cases.

Justice Center Individual and Family Support advocates provide guidance and information to victims, their families, personal representatives and guardians about the reporting and investigation process, offer support during criminal court proceedings and are available to accompany victims during interviews and court appearances.

Editor’s note: In compliance with Rule 3.6(b)(6) of the Rules of Professional Conduct, you are advised that a charge is an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 22, 2017

Contact: Bill Reynolds (518) 414-1299