Gregory T. Gorney, a man police accused of force-feeding a hamburger to a terminally ill South Buffalo teen-ager, has 83 arrests since 1978, authorities said Wednesday.
Tina Vanguilder, the child's mother and Gorney's live-in girlfriend, said child-protection workers are unfairly using his lengthy arrest record against him to have the ailing youth removed from her custody, which officially occurred Wednesday.
Walter Vanguilder, 15, remained in stable condition Wednesday in Children's Hospital, where he was taken several hours after the incident Sunday.
City Court officials said Gorney's 83 arrests involve many crimes but that disorderly conduct was the dominating charge in his files.
Ms. Vanguilder criticized acting State Supreme Court Justice Sharon S. Townsend, the supervising judge of Family Court in Western New York, saying it was unfair of the judge to deny her or Gorney permission to speak Tuesday in court when, as the mother claims, custody of the sick child was taken away.
Court officials declined to comment, saying only the case is scheduled to continue Friday.
"She (the judge) wouldn't let us talk. I wanted to tell her the truth. We did not shove a hamburger into Wally. He can eat with his mouth, and I'm going to have a medical statement from doctors to prove it Friday when we go back to court," said Ms. Vanguilder.
She was charged Sunday for allegedly failing to stop Gorney, but she was released.
Ms. Vanguilder claimed child-protection workers have told her the only way she can regain custody of Walter and her other son, 13-year-old William, is to stop living with Gorney.
"If I want Greg, I don't get my children. That's what I've been told. Why do I have to choose? They're my children. But if I have to, I am choosing my children," the 32-year-old mother said.
She admitted Gorney has a drinking problem and a lengthy arrest record but said those circumstances fail to reflect the love he provides to her children.
"They keep using his back arrests against him, and there's no need to do that. Greg is really sad about the whole thing. He loves the boys, and I need Greg's support. I need him to help me with Billy," Ms. Vanguilder said.
William was placed in his maternal grandmother's custody earlier this month after Gorney, 36, allegedly struck the boy in the face and pulled his hair, according to court records.
It was after that incident that child-protection workers obtained a Family Court order directing Gorney and Ms. Vanguilder to refrain from harming the youngsters.
Walter has an incurable brain tumor, which was discovered when he was 10 years old. Doctors operated on him several years ago but were only able to remove a portion of the growth.
The boy, who has also suffered two strokes, is fed liquid nutrients three times a day through a tube in his stomach, according to Ms. Vanguilder.
"Wally is my heart. I've been there for every doctor's appointment with him," she said. "And Greg is getting the royal end of this. Everything is being blown out of proportion. There is nothing wrong with Greg being with my children."