A blind, terminally ill South Buffalo teen-ager was nearly defenseless, but that didn't protect him from domestic abuse, authorities said Monday.
As the boy slept late Sunday, according to police, his mother's intoxicated boyfriend tried to force a hamburger down the teen's throat in a bedroom crowded with medical apparatus that helps sustain the youngster, police said. The boy is on a liquid diet.
Police arrested Gregory T. Gorney, 36, of Colgate Avenue and Tina Vanguilder, 32, the boy's mother. It was not the first time Gorney is alleged to have mistreated the 15-year-old boy and his 13-year-old brother, authorities said Monday.
Seven days ago, Erie County child-protection workers obtained a court order directing Gorney and Ms. Vanguilder to refrain from harming the children.
Gorney, who lives with the family, had allegedly pulled the younger brother from a car earlier this month, struck him in the face and yanked his hair, according to court documents.
Shortly after that, the 13-year-old went to live with his grandmother, authorities said.
On other occasions, Gorney has clasped his hand over the mouth of the ailing older brother, muffling his cries, which some think may be his way of complaining of pain, authorities said.
"If the facts of this case are valid, the suspects should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," a police official said. "To expose an ailing child to this type of treatment is inhuman."
The boy, who is expected to die from a brain tumor, was taken to Children's Hospital several hours after the alleged forced feeding. He was listed in stable condition.
He was diagnosed with the tumor when he was 7 years old.
Ms. Vanguilder is accused of allowing Gorney "into the residence in an intoxicated state" and failing to stop him from harming her child, police said.
Police say a nurse on duty at the home witnessed the incident.
South District officers responded to a 911 call of domestic trouble in the residence at 11:55 p.m. Ms. Vanguilder was uncooperative, said Officer John Heitzhaus, and lied about what had occurred. He added that she, too, appeared intoxicated.
She also told officers that Gorney had threatened to "put her head through a wall," police said.
Gorney, according to authorities, had been prohibited from living in the Colgate Avenue home until recently.
One of the officials involved in the case said he was astonished when Gorney had been allowed to return.
Gorney was charged with felony counts of first-degree reckless endangerment and first-degree criminal contempt for violating the court order and misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child, harassment, resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration.
Ms. Vanguilder was charged with misdemeanor criminal contempt, obstructing governmental administration and endangering the welfare of her child.
Gorney was being held in the Erie County Holding Center because he was unable to post $10,000 bail, while Ms. Vanguilder was released on her own recognizance.
The father of the two boys, authorities said, is deceased.
Neighbors said police have frequently responded to calls at the residence since Ms. Vanguilder, her children and Gorney moved into the first-floor apartment about eight months ago.
"We steer clear of them. We don't want to get involved," one neighbor said Monday.