Tina Vanguilder's brother and his fiance fear for the safety of Ms. Vanguilder's two teen-age sons.
Richard Vanguilder, 37, of Cheektowaga and his fiancee, Kim Kornacki, 35, both said Ms. Vanguilder's boyfriend, Gregory T. Gorney, accused of force feeding a hamburger to her son who is on a liquid diet because of a terminal brain tumor, is "just plain stupid" and violent.
Ms. Kornacki said Gorney was violent 25 years ago and hasn't changed in the 18 months he has been living with Ms. Vanguilder and her two sons in Buffalo and Chautauqua County.
Gorney has been jailed since his arrest Oct. 12 after police were summoned to the couple's Colgate Avenue home and were told by a nurse on duty that she had seen Gorney force-feed the hamburger to Ms. Vanguilder's son, Walter, 15.
Police arrested Gorney on felony and misdemeanor charges and and charged Ms. Vanguilder with misdemeanor child endangerment.
The arrests came a week after Erie County child protection workers obtained a court order directing Gorney and Ms. Vanguilder to refrain from harming either of her two sons. Walter, who has been released from Children's Hospital, and brother William, 13, are living with their grandmother.
Acting State Supreme Court Justice Sharon S. Townsend, who has scheduled a Nov. 17 hearing on custody issues in the case, has granted Ms. Vanguilder's mother, Rose Wils, permission to temporarily care for the two boys.
On Thursday, Chief City Judge Thomas P. Amodeo appointed attorney Christopher T.W. Ross to represent Gorney, who won a delay until next Tuesday on a hearing that will determine whether the case goes to a grand jury.
Molly Jo Musarra, deputy chief of the Erie County District Attorney's Domestic Abuse Bureau, told Amodeo that prosecutors would be willing to let both Gorney, 36, and Ms. Vanguilder, 32, plead guilty to misdemeanor charges in the case if Gorney gets a one-year jail term. Gorney is currently jailed in lieu of $10,000 bail.
If Ms. Vanguilder pleaded guilty, her sentence would be "left to the discretion of the court," the prosecutor said.
Ms. Vanguilder declined to comment after the court proceedings.
On Oct. 17, Ms. Vanguilder was quoted as saying she felt Gorney is getting a bad rap from police and admitted she physically abused her son, Walter, in October 1996 when they lived in Chautauqua County.