Brooklyn, NY – NYS Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs Special Prosecutor Patricia E. Gunning today announced the arrest of a Queens man, employed as a Juvenile Counselor, on charges he assaulted and abused a teenager in his care at the Crossroads Juvenile Detention Center.

Dennis Harris (DOB: 12/4/1956) of Queens, was charged with:

  • One count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child, a class A misdemeanor;
  • One count of Assault in the Third Degree, a class A misdemeanor;
  • One count of Menacing in the Third Degree, a class B misdemeanor; and
  • One count of Harassment in the Second Degree, a violation.

The charges stem from a June incident in which the defendant allegedly shoved a 16 year old resident repeatedly, and punched the victim in the head. The victim suffered bruising and abrasions to the head.

“Residents of juvenile centers are there to receive guidance and education essential to their development and growth. This is particularly important given that residents have often experienced abuse in their past,” said Special Prosecutor Gunning. “The people who are paid to provide guidance and nurturing should not subject residents to further pain and suffering. If they do, they will be held accountable.”

The defendant was arraigned in Kings County Criminal Court and released on his own recognizance. The Justice Center is leading the prosecution with Assistant Special Prosecutor David Kim prosecuting the case. Justice Center Investigator Edgar Bourdon conducted the investigation.

Crossroads Juvenile Center is licensed by the NYS Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS).

About the Justice Center

The Justice Center began operations on June 30, 2013.  It operates a toll-free hotline that receives reports of allegations of abuse, neglect and significant incidents 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Anyone who witnesses or suspects the abuse or neglect of a person with special needs can make a report. Mandated reporters who have reasonable cause to suspect that a reportable incident has occurred by staff must report it to the Justice Center immediately upon discovery.  The Justice Center is not a first responder so if a report involves an emergency situation, the caller is instructed to hang up and dial 9-1-1.

The Justice Center is authorized to investigate all reports of abuse and neglect, pursue administrative sanctions against staff found responsible for misconduct and its Special Prosecutor/Inspector General shares jurisdiction with local district attorneys to prosecute criminal offense allegations. The Justice Center notifies local district attorneys of all potential criminal cases.

Justice Center Individual and Family Support advocates provide guidance and information to victims, their families, personal representatives and guardians about the reporting and investigation process, offer support during criminal court proceedings and are available to accompany victims during interviews and court appearances.

Editor’s note: In compliance with Rule 3.6(b)(6) of the Rules of Professional Conduct, you are advised that a charge is an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.