DETROIT – The family of a young, disabled woman who was violently beaten by a caregiver is suing the owner of the group home and the alleged attacker.
A coworker of the alleged attacker recorded a video of the incident on her cell phone. That caregiver was arrested, and the residents have been moved out of that home.
The victim, Vera Gossett, has a severe form of autism and can't speak. Her mother has mobility issues and decided to move Gossett into the group home seven years ago. She said she trusted the home until she saw the cellphone video, which contains very graphic content.
In the video Gossett is shown screaming as the alleged attacker beats her violently. Gossett can do little more than scream, protect her face with her hand, or hide under the blanket.
"It hurts, it hurts, it's painful to see my child like this," said Vera's mother Jacqueline Gosset. "It's very painful."
The video shows the caregiver using an extension cord and a metal broom handle to beat the victim while yelling instructions that Gossett's family said she can't understand.
"I felt the pain my child felt," Jacqueline said. "Hands swollen and stuff, I felt her pain."
Dominique Blade, the certified nursing assistant who shot the video, had just started working at Strathmoor Manor two months prior. She was so disturbed by what she saw that she had to get proof.
"She told me 'Well this is the way you have to handle her, she's an animal, you have to handle her and deal with her like this,'" Blade said.
The owner, Bartholomew Ajulufoh, has had his license revoked, and it isn't the first time he's been investigated by the state. Last year he was found guilty for how another resident had been restrained.
"They failed this vulnerable woman and her family," said attorney Mark Bernstein. "And it's inexcusable."
Blade said there were five special needs and mentally-challenged residents living in this group home. She said the owner knew what was going on.
"They was beat, they was slapped, just taken advantage of because they couldn't talk or really do nothing for themselves," Blade said.
Detroit police arrested the 49-year-old woman Thursday night. She has been charged with aggravated felonious assault and has not yet been arraigned.
Gossett has been moved to a different home and is doing better.
The operator has four other group homes, two in Detroit, one in Southfield and one in Highland Park. It remains to be seen if he will be investigated at any of these other homes.