‘An­to­nio told me not to talk’

In­ves­ti­ga­tor: Care­giver ‘bragged’ about lock­ing dis­abled clients in car while go­ing to strip club

The Morning Call - - FRONT PAGE - By Pamela Lehman

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.

AMY SHORTELL/THE MORN­ING CALL

An­to­nio Mon­toya is charged with as­sault­ing and ne­glect­ing dis­abled adults in his care.

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