BOSTON (CBS) – There’s a new law on the books in Massachusetts that will create a state registry for caretakers who have abused people with disabilities.
Gov. Charlie Baker signed Nicky’s Law on February 13. It’s named after a young man who had been abused by a caretaker.
“His parents realized after the incident when they couldn’t get the person prosecuted fully through the court system that, oh my goodness, this guy could work again somewhere else. His mom said ‘We’ve got to do something about this,’” said Leo Sarkissian, the executive director of The Arc of Massachusetts. The charity represents people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and helped push for the new law.
According to Sarkissian, state statistics show a 30-percent increase in abuse cases being referred to district attorneys offices. He said many cases don’t get prosecuted because the victim can’t communicate to defend himself or herself.
“Only 10 or 15 percent actually get prosecuted. That’s why this law is so important,” Sarkissian told WBZ-TV. “To capture those that do registerable abuse, abuse that’s physically or psychologically very harmful, that they can be placed on a registry.”
Elizabeth Bostic supported the bill after her son James was abused by a caretaker. There was no way to track the abuser’s past or find out if James’ next caregiver had any substantiated abuse claims.
“The offenders tend to just go from place to place to place, hurting people,” Bostic told WBZ. “There is this rising problem of people who are so vulnerable really getting abused and being hurt.”
“As I go forward and look for people to support James, I can be sure that they are people who have not hurt people before,” Bostic said.
For more information go to thearcofmass.org/abuseregistry