Cuomo wants agency for protecting disabled
ALBANY (AP) -- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday proposed the creation of a state agency to better protect about a million New Yorkers with disabilities and special needs under state-funded care.
The Cuomo administration offered legislation that would establish a new special prosecutor and inspector general, with more than 400 staff, to oversee six state agencies and their contractors.
The bill would create a single point for reporting and screening abuse allegations for those in residential care and day programs. It would have a hotline, statewide incident database and a list of employees banned from working with the disabled because of abusive behavior.
"As a starting point, what every person who is in a human service facility in this state deserves, while we're striving for the best, is a threshold," Cuomo told a room packed with disabled people and advocates who gave him a standing ovation.
"They deserve to be safe. They deserve human dignity," he said.
There were more than 10,000 alleged abuse reports last year, according to the Governor's Office.
Ex-officer gets 75 years to life in sex assault
NEW YORK (AP) -- A former police officer who grabbed a schoolteacher off the street and sexually attacked her was sentenced Monday to at least three-quarters of a century in prison after being convicted of high-level sex charges, though a jury couldn't decide whether he was guilty of rape.
After staying silent during his trial, Michael Pena apologized to the victim and said he deserved to be punished, though his lawyer later said Pena was shocked at getting 75 years to life in prison, the maximum possible sentence for his conviction.
"If I could go back in time, to the day of this incident, and somehow grab myself by the shoulder. I have no explanation for what happened that day," Pena said softly, his remarks punctuated by long silences.
Capping a trial that portrayed a hideous, sudden assault by an off-duty officer, the judge excoriated Pena as an embarrassment to police, while the woman said the attack had destroyed her life.
"My life has been shattered -- my sense of security, my sense of safety, any and all independence," she said.