‘Antonio told me not to talk’
Investigator: Caregiver ‘bragged’ about locking disabled clients in car while going to strip club
After leaving three disabled adults in a locked car for hours while he went to a strip club, their caregiver at a Bethlehem Township group home warned them not to tell anyone, according to testimony at a hearing Tuesday.
Some of the adults, who have physical and intellectual disabilities, were not able to talk, authorities say. But one was and said that the nowformer caregiver, Antonio Montoya of Allentown, had “bragged” about the strip club trip in October 2018 and admitted it was something he had done before, an investigator testified.
“Antonio told me not to talk, or I’ll be in trouble,” the witness said, according to testimony from Shannon Mur
phy, who investigated the allegations against Montoya on behalf of the Bethlehem Township and Freemansburg group homes where he worked.
After about an hour of testimony, Montoya, 33, was ordered to face trial by Senior District Judge James Narlesky on charges of strangulation and neglect of care of a dependent person. Several other charges, including simple assault, were dismissed after Narlesky said prosecutors failed to present evidence to support those charges. Montoya remains free after posting $100,000 bail.
Montoya was working as a caregiver for Resources for Human Development in Philadelphia, a nonprofit organization that provides services in group homes for people with developmental disabilities, mental and physical issues and those in addiction recovery.
Montoya no longer works there, and the nonprofit is cooperating with the investigation, according to a statement issued by RHD.
Assistant District Attorney Patricia Mulqueen, the prosecutor in the case, presented a photo at Tuesday’s hearing of a nonverbal group home resident who was placed in a chokehold. In the photo, the face of the person with his arms wrapped around the resident’s head is not visible. But Mulqueen said another employee identified that person as Montoya.
In the photo, the man is in obvious distress with his face appearing to be blue.
Bethlehem Township police Detective Anthony Stevens, the lead investigator in the case, testified that Montoya admitted choking the resident during an interview in April.
Stevens said that Montoya told him he did the chokehold “as a joke” and didn’t seriously harm the resident.
Mulqueen held the photo up in court, aghast. “He thought this was a joke?”
“I explained my concern to him that it didn’t look like a joke to me,” Stevens answered.
Antonio Montoya is charged with assaulting and neglecting disabled adults in his care.