Worker at care facility admits to abusing autistic resident

A person with clenched fist in front of a crouched figure. (PHOTO: Getty Images)
A person with clenched fist in front of a crouched figure. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — A worker at a residential care facility for adults admitted on Tuesday (21 September) to assaulting one of its residents twice on the same day.

The 29-year-old Indian national pleaded guilty to causing hurt to the 36-year-old man, who is considered a vulnerable victim due to his autism, mild intellectual disability and epilepsy.

The victim had resided at the Home since 2019 and the accused, a care staff worker who had been there for more than a year, took care of him.

After the victim was attacked, he was assessed by a psychiatrist and deemed to have poor communication skills, and needed assistance or supervision in daily activities.

An Institute of Mental Health (IMH) report stated that he had a long history of showing aggression towards other people and property since young and had been admitted to IMH 22 times for behavioural problems related to aggression. The report also noted that his behaviour had been relatively stable since he was admitted to the Home and no aggression was reported in his latest interview in December last year.

The victim’s name and the facility he stayed in cannot be revealed due to a gag order.

Assaulted him in witness' view

On 9 September last year, the accused and the victim were at an activity area when the victim approached the accused and grabbed onto his shirt collar.

Upon contact, the accused threw the victim to the ground and pinned him by holding his hands. He also placed his knee on the victim’s stomach.

The accused then stood and stepped on the victim’s stomach once, while the latter lay on the ground. He then held the victim’s hands and dragged him to the centre of the room. Over the next 20 seconds, the accused kicked the victim five times on his outer right thigh before the victim sat upright.

The two men then spoke for a while, as the accused stood in front of the victim who was seated. The victim later stood and removed his pants and underwear. When the accused saw some faeces in the victim’s underwear, he brought him to the toilet to clean up.

The violence against the victim was captured on CCTV cameras. The camera also captured a female care staff walking towards the room and the victim waving at her. However, the accused was then seen raising a finger at his colleague, who left.

Another care staff witnessed the incident and saw that the victim had pointed to her, as if asking for help, but the accused told her not to get involved. The witness then walked away and did not think of reporting the matter as she feared getting into trouble.

Later that day, the two men were in another room with other residents when the victim again approached the accused and touched his shirt collar. After about 13 seconds, the victim removed his hands.

After a short exchange, the victim sat on the floor and stretched his hand towards the accused, who grabbed the victim’s hand and dragged him on the floor. He kicked the victim twice while asking him to stand up.

A female care staff witnessed this incident and told the accused to stop, but he claimed he could handle the matter and asked her to go away. She stayed and the accused stopped his attack. She did not report the matter.

Victim's mother discovered injury

Three days later, the victim returned home for his home leave and his mother discovered a big bruise at the back of her son’s right thigh. She contacted the Home’s care staff and later wrote an email to the facility’s chief executive officer (CEO).

The CEO later discovered the offence through CCTV and apologised profusely to the victim’s mother. She accepted the apology and let the CEO take the necessary action against the accused, the prosecution stated.

The CEO filed a police report on 20 September.

During investigations, the CEO stated that autistic residents would grab onto another person’s shirt due to anxiety, and this could lead to aggression if not handled appropriately. However, he added that care staff had been trained to disengage residents without using disproportionate force.

According to the accused, the victim would grab onto his shirt collar sometimes to pull him to the ground.

The victim was examined by a doctor and diagnosed with a bruise without any fracture or dislocation.

The accused will return to court on 28 October for his sentencing.