Freeville, NY – NYS Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs Special Prosecutor Patricia E. Gunning announced three counselors employed by The William George Agency for Children’s Services were arrested and arraigned on charges involving two separate incidents in which adolescents receiving care were abused.

Yakua Banks (DOB: 07/13/89) of Cortland, is charged with:

  •          One Count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child, a Class “A” misdemeanor;
  •          One count of Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation, a class "A" Misdemeanor;
  •          One Count of Menacing in the Third Degree, a class "B" Misdemeanor; and
  •          Two Counts of Harassment in the Second Degree, both Violations.

The charges against Banks stem from an incident that occurred in February 2017, in which the defendant allegedly encouraged a 14-year-old female resident to fight with her and then improperly restrained her and obstructed her breathing.

Counselors Alexander Stewart and Adam Morgan were arrested in connection with a separate incident that occurred in October 2016, in which Stewart allegedly pushed a 13-year-old male and placed him in a headlock and Morgan allegedly picked up the boy and slammed him into the ground.  Both defendants are also alleged to have falsified incident reports.

Alexander Stewart (DOB: 07/25/65) of Locke is charged with:

  •           One count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child, a Class "A" Misdemeanor;
  •           One count of Criminal Obstruction of Breathing or Blood Circulation, a Class "A" Misdemeanor;
  •           One count of Menacing in the Third Degree, a Class "B" Misdemeanor;
  •           One count of Unlawful Imprisonment in the Second Degree, a Class "A" Misdemeanor;
  •           Two counts of Harassment in the Second Degree, both Violations; and
  •           One count of Falsifying Business Records in the Second Degree, a Class "A" Misdemeanor.

Adam Morgan (DOB: 08/28/93) of Cortland is charged with:

  •          One count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child, a Class "A" Misdemeanor;
  •          One count of Menacing in the Third Degree, a Class "B" Misdemeanor;
  •          One count of Unlawful Imprisonment in the Second Degree, a Class "A" Misdemeanor;
  •          Two counts of Harassment in the Second Degree, both Violations; and
  •          One count of Falsifying Business Records in the Second Degree, a Class "A" Misdemeanor.

The three defendants are no longer employed by William George.  Each defendant appeared in Dryden Town Court on May 1, 2017 before the Honorable Christopher Clauson and was released on their own recognizance.

“Young people receiving treatment in facilities licensed by the NYS Office of Children and Family Services deserve to live in safe and caring environments,” said Special Prosecutor Gunning.  “For counselors to attack residents, as these three defendants are alleged to have done, is unacceptable. The Justice Center is committed to holding staff who mistreat at-risk youth accountable for their actions.”

Supervising Assistant Special Prosecutor Linda E. Gafford is prosecuting the cases, which were investigated by Justice Center Investigators Kathleen Bednar, Scott Evans and Bruce Hall. Special Prosecutor Gunning thanked the New York State Police in Ithaca for their assistance.

About the Justice Center: Partnership with Law Enforcement Agencies

The Justice Center has statutory authority to investigate and prosecute crimes against vulnerable New Yorkers.  The agency also assists other law enforcement agencies -- such as the New York State Police, local police departments, and District Attorneys -- with their investigations that involve abuse or neglect of people with special needs.

In addition to its law enforcement authority, the Justice Center is also empowered to pursue administrative actions against staff found responsible for misconduct.   Workers found responsible for the most egregious conduct are permanently barred from employment at facilities serving vulnerable populations under the Justice Center’s jurisdiction.

The Justice Center operates a statewide, toll-free hotline for people to report allegations of abuse, neglect, and significant incidents 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To report incidents of abuse and neglect call 1-855-373-2122.

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:  May 4, 2017

Contact: Diane Ward, Office of Communications

518-549-0200

diane.ward@justicecenter.ny.gov