SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

June 21, 2013

Group home worker guilty of assault on disabled man

(Continued)

The victim was “just sitting there, trying to eat his lunch,” Knowlton told jurors. Though workers are not allowed to yell at residents, Knowlton said he was preoccupied at first with the meal he was giving the other resident.

But as the yelling continued, the victim “flung his lunch off the table. At that point, Mr. Martin was enraged,” Knowlton testified.

Knowlton said Martin grabbed the slightly built victim by the arm and threw him to the floor, demanding that he clean up the mess he had made.

He described the victim, who is about 5 feet 4 inches tall and so underweight that he was being given Ensure as a nutritional supplement, as “frozen in fear,” his glasses askew on his face.

Knowlton said Martin kicked the victim twice in the backside “like he was going to kick a soccer ball.”

“This was no accident,” Knowlton testified. “I got up and tried to intervene and asked Noah to leave him alone.” Knowlton said Martin picked up the man, put him in his chair, then slapped him in the back of his head twice.

Knowlton told Martin to take a walk, he testified.

Defense lawyer Rosalyn Stults suggested in her questioning that Knowlton’s account wasn’t credible, asking him to describe the specific locations of each assault and the dimensions of the room.

Stults was cut off repeatedly, however, by the judge, who ruled that some of her questions were improper, such as when she began to ask Knowlton about his own employment history and any past complaints against him.

The judge could be heard warning Stults at one point that he was “very close” to declaring a mistrial after she tried a second time to elicit testimony about any complaints against Knowlton.

Later, the area administrator of the group home, Linda Bleau, testified that after learning of the incident, she launched an internal investigation and notified the Disabled Persons Protection Commission, as required by law.

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