Bill Liblick will not give up on the legislation that bears his sister's name. Paula's Law (S.2000/A.1715) would require the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities to place video cameras on the entrances and exits of all its facilities as a way to prevent abuse and protect both patients and staff.
The bill is named in honor of Bill's sister Paula Liblick. Paula was a 62-year-old, developmentally disabled woman who was raped while living in a state run group home in December of 2009. The injuries were noticed several days later when a caretaker at her day program was changing her diaper.
Paula died in April of 2011 from Strongyloides, a sexually transmitted parasite, native to the Caribbean, which is believed to be a result of the rape. Five employees from the Hudson Valley group home were fired and it has since closed down. No one was ever arrested for the assault because there were no video cameras, or a way of tracking visitors.
"When it comes to protecting our most vulnerable, New York looks the other way. It's reprehensible," said Bill Liblick.
The legislation was introduced in both the Senate and Assembly last session but did not move out of committee. The current bill has bipartisan support from 18 lawmakers.
Liblick said state buildings, hospitals and even convenient stores have cameras for protection, so why not group homes?
"It's not a privacy issue, we just want them [cameras] at the exits and entrances. It will protect staff members as well, no one seems to be looking at it from that angle," Liblick said. The bill is sponsored this session by Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, D-Forestburgh, and Sen. David Carlucci, D-Clarkstown. Liblick said he was happy with the bipartisan support he has received from senators and assemblymen.
When asked why the bill was not passed on the first attempt, Gunther said, "I thought it was a great bill. Sometimes it takes more than a year, that's the reality of it." Gunther hasn't shown any sign of letting up on this bill
"I'm going to make every effort I can to get it passed," she said.
Liblick, who was devastated by the loss of his sister and the way it happened, has vowed to work 24 hours a day until Paula's Law is passed. He said he thinks the bill is crucial in ensuring no one goes through the pain he has, or has to watch a family member suffer the way Paula did.