Former health care workers face felony charges in ‘fight club’ incident at Independent Group Living Program in Southampton

The workers have been charged with endangering the welfare of disabled individuals.

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SOUTHAMPTON - A group of former health care workers accused of turning a group home into a fight club for the developmentally disabled were arraigned on felony charges in Riverhead Tuesday afternoon. 

As News 12 reported in February, the four workers for the Independent Group Living Program in Southampton were accused of encouraging residents to fight one another.

Three of the workers, Erin McHenry, of Brookhaven, Stephen Komara, of East Moriches, and Rosemary Vanni, of Eastport, face two felony counts of endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person.

Special Prosecutor Jacqueline Kagan says McHenry can be seen on a cellphone video encouraging one of the residents to hit another resident at the group home. She says there is a clip on the video where McHenry can be seen holding down a resident with her foot while waving over another man to hit him. That man can be seen stomping on the resident’s head, Kagan says.

The prosecutor says the other three workers can be seen laughing in the video. Kagan says 19-year-old Justin McDonald was the one who recorded the incident.

McDonald pleaded guilty in court Tuesday and will be sentenced in July.

Mchenry's attorney told News 12 that there was no “fight club” for the developmentally disabled and said his client did nothing wrong.

"I think we have two disabled individuals who had differences between them and that, unfortunately, resulted on those two engaging in conduct," said attorney Tor Jacob Worsoe Jr.

The three were released on their own recognizance. They are due back in court for a conference hearing June 18. McDonald is expected to be sentenced to 90 days in jail and five years of probation.

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