The parents of a disabled woman who was abused at the hands of her caretaker tell NBC New York they were appalled to see video of the house manager yelling at their daughter to eat her food, while striking her several times.
“I’m sick and tired of you right now,” Wonda Shorts is heard yelling at Amanda Badke in the video. “Act right! Act right!”
Shorts is seemingly upset at Amanda because she is not eating. In the video, she can be seen grabbing Amanda by the arm to force her back down to the chair to eat her food.
According to a report from the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities, the incident happened on April 6, 2020, and was not discovered until 21 days later. The report concluded that Shorts made Amanda eat regurgitated food and created an unsafe environment. Perhaps even more alarming, the report stated there may have been multiple incidents that occurred and were not reported.
“We are just so heartbroken over the whole thing," Susan Badke, of Muttontown, told NBC New York. “We never laid a hand on Amanda and she did. We put all her trust in her.”
Shorts was arrested July 18, and was charged with endangering the welfare of a physically disabled person before being released on her own recognizance. The 56-year-old Shorts pleaded not guilty, and attorney Scott Gross told News 4 that his client has “enjoyed an excellent reputation throughout her employment. These accusations are completely out of character and are in direct contrast of her unblemished service to those in need for over eleven years.”
Amanda's father, Jim Badke, said what they saw on the video makes them question their parenting.
“As a parent you feel like you failed your child because we should have seen the signs we should have done something,” said Jim Badke. “There was a lot going on that we didn’t know.”
After Shorts arrest, the Badkes requested investigative reports into all complaints involving their daughter. That’s when they learned about multiple allegations of abuse.
“Amanda having her hair pulled, being dragged by her hair, being locked in a basement, being pushed downstairs,” said Badke. “It's’ really disturbing that we didn’t know about this and this goes back to early 2019.”
Last May, Amanda had a bruise under her eye. The home said Amanda bruised her eye by rubbing it. Recently she explained to her parents her side of the story.
“She said she was hit and thrown down the stairs,” said Jim Badke.
Citizens Options Unlimited provides services for the home. In a statement, they told NBC New York that “all allegations of abuse and neglect are simultaneously reported to OPWDD, NYS Justice Center, the family of the person supported and investigated.” Furthermore, the statement said that "the decision on whether to retain or terminate an employee is based on the findings of the investigation."
However, the Badkes contend they were not notified about the previous incidents and did not know until they requested the reports themselves. In fact, Jim believes that nothing would have happened to Shorts were it not for the video.
"The video brought it all to light and if it weren’t for the video it would still be going on," said Jim. "There has to be major reform at these group homes."