Ellenville, NY – NYS Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs Special Prosecutor Patricia E. Gunning announced a security guard has been indicted and charged with raping and sexually abusing three female residents receiving addiction rehabilitation services at Samaritan Village of Ellenville.

The indictment, unsealed on February 2, 2017, charges Todd Melendez (DOB: 5/23/1985) of Albany with:

  • Six Counts of Rape in the Third Degree, a class “E” felony; and
  • Two Counts of Sexual Abuse in the Second Degree, a class “A” misdemeanor.

If convicted on all charges, Melendez faces a maximum of 24 years in state prison. At an arraignment before the Honorable Donald A. Williams of Ulster County Court, the defendant was remanded to Ulster County Jail without bail. He is due to reappear in court on March 2.

“For an employee charged with caring for individuals in recovery from addiction to target their vulnerabilities for his own sexual gratification, as this defendant is alleged to have done with three women, is unconscionable,” said Special Prosecutor Gunning. “Individuals in residential care fighting the ravages of addiction have taken a brave step forward in seeking help.  When that fight is derailed by someone looking to exploit their vulnerabilities, the consequences to recovery can be severe.  The Justice Center will continue to fight for all vulnerable New Yorkers, including those seeking treatment for addiction, to ensure that they understand they don’t need to suffer at the hands of abusive caretakers.”

The charges stemmed from incidents between February and June of 2016 in which the defendant allegedly engaged in criminal sexual conduct with the women, which included sexual intercourse with two of the women and sexual touching of the third. In June of 2016, Samaritan Village terminated Melendez from his position as a security guard who primarily worked overnight hours.

Samaritan Village is licensed by the NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS). Under state penal law, sexual contact of any kind between an employee and a patient, when the employee has reason to know his or her patient is a resident or inpatient at a facility operated or licensed by OASAS, constitutes a crime.

Special Prosecutor Gunning will be prosecuting the case, which was investigated by Justice Center Investigator Tabitha Purcell together with the New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation and State Police Forensic Investigation Center. Special Prosecutor Gunning thanked the Albany Office of the NY/NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force for locating and arresting the defendant and Samaritan Village for their cooperation with the investigation.

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 3, 2017

Contact: Bill Reynolds (518) 414-1299