This story, originally published at 12 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2023, was updated on Nov. 3, 2023, at 4:58 p.m. to add comments from the victim’s sister.
Kelly Barry, 25, of Upper Marlboro, a former Rockville care facility worker, was sentenced Thursday to six months in jail for neglecting a non-verbal man with severe autism in his care, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Washington, D.C.
The victim’s eldest sister, who requested her name not be used out of concern for her brother’s privacy, said that when she thinks about what happened to her brother:
“It makes my stomach turn, and it makes me want to flip tables,” she said.
Barry worked as a direct support professional for Community Options Inc., a residential facility for persons with disabilities, located at 7615 Standish Place in Rockville, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. The non-profit organization has locations in 12 different states.
In his job, Barry took individuals on community outings, such as bowling, for about three to four hours a day, five times a week, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.
From June to October 2022, Barry provided care to a non-verbal man with severe autism who was unable to care for himself. Instead of taking him on community outings, Barry took the man with him when he used the organization’s van to make food deliveries, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
On Oct. 19, 2022, Barry used the van to pick up the man he was caring for and then drove to Washington, D.C., to make five food deliveries, and when he made the last delivery, Barry left the man in the vehicle alone, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
When he finished the delivery, Barry saw someone steal the van with the man in it. Barry called 911 but failed to mention that the man was inside the van, and he did not tell D.C. Metropolitan Police when they arrived, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Then, Community Options Inc. advised Barry to notify law enforcement about the man, but he still did not, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
About three and a half hours after the van was stolen, Prince George’s County Police found the man barefoot and wandering in the middle of traffic on I-495. Police then transported him to a local hospital, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
The victim’s sister said she is angry at Barry for not notifying anyone about her brother being missing because she and her family would have helped look for him and possibly could have located him sooner than the police.
“We would have been immediately out of work, dropping everything immediately and looking for him,” she said.
She said that her family finding out they lost their chance to find him before he walked onto the highway was “a stab to our soul and to our hearts.”
On Thursday, D.C. Superior Court Judge Heidi Pasichow accepted Barry’s guilty plea for one count of criminal negligence of a vulnerable adult and sentenced him to 180 days in jail (with a portion of the time suspended), 14 months of supervised probation and 90 hours of community service, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Also, she ordered that he will be prohibited from working with anyone who cannot care for themselves, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
“We support the court’s sentence of Mr. Barry and are relieved to hear that he will never work with any vulnerable person again,” Vice President of Strategic Operations for Community Options Inc. Wei-Han Zhou said in an email to MoCo360. “At the time of the incident, we immediately terminated the employee and cooperated with law enforcement to ensure that he was prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
The victim’s sister said she and her family are relieved that Barry was sentenced to jail.
Also, she said she hopes this will prevent people from taking advantage of vulnerable adults in the future “because they know that they’re not going to get away with things like that.”
Barry’s attorney, Joseph McCoy, did not respond to requests for comment over the phone and email.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said they collaborated with the D.C. Office of the Inspector General in the prosecution of this case, which is responsible for investigating and prosecuting abuse or neglect of residents in healthcare facilities.
Additionally, the office commended Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Facci for prosecuting the case.
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