Alleged group home attack leaves disability advocates angry, in disbelief

(WHAM photo)

Rochester, N.Y. (13WHAM) - The death of a group home resident in June has resulted in charges for two of the home's former employees. Police say 35-year-old Heather Roselli was brutally attacked when she was trying to call home on Father's Day this year.

"They have a position of public trust," said Monroe County Assitant DA Leslie Schildt when discussing group home employees. "When people put a relative or friend in these homes, they're trusting they'll be kept safe. that's why they're putting them there. But it's a position of power also, and unfortunately that type of situation also means abuse can happen in these homes and go undetected."

Now, both the Monroe County District Attorney's Office and local disability advocates are hoping the tragic event can lead to change.

"This is a human, this is horrifying to have happen to anyone," said Ericka Jones, the systems advocate at the Center for Disability Rights.

Jones says Heather's death may have been able to be avoided with more home and community-based services available, which allow those with disabilities to be assigned attendants to help with day-to-day struggles.

"Unfortunately right now, we don't have as much access to home and community-based supports, that's really something we need to talk to our legislators and find out why we don't have that and keep them to task," said Jones.

Jones says the programs can often mean those with disabilities being able to live at home or on their own.

"We need community integration, we need the ability for a disabled person to transition in the community if that's what they choose," Jones added.

Home and community services are part of the Disability Integration Act, which was introduced to the US Senate in April 2017. The bill hasn't passed either the Senate or Congress yet.

The two women charged in Roselli's death are set to appear back in court on November 30.

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