FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 16, 2016

Contact: Diane Ward 518-549-0200 diane.ward@justicecenter.ny.gov

Colonie, NY – NYS Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs Special Prosecutor Patricia E. Gunning today announced the arrestof a former Hope House employee this week on charges she raped a resident in her care. The arrest was the result of a Justice Center investigation.

Nicole Hodgdon (DOB: 05/12/1987) of Schenectady, was charged with:

  •         Rape in the 3rd Degree, a class “E” felony;
  •         Sexual Abuse in the 2nd Degree, a class “A” misdemeanor; and
  •         Sexual Misconduct, a class “A” misdemeanor

The charges stem from a May 2016 incident in which the defendant, a Hope House Associate Counselor, allegedly engaged in sexual intercourse with a person in treatment for drug addiction. Sex crimes under state penal law include sexual contact of any kind between an employee and a resident when the employee has reason to know the victim is a resident at a facility licensed or certified by the NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS). Hope House, which is certified by OASAS, has terminated Hodgdon from her position.

“Although the two cases are not related, this is the second Hope House employee we have arrested this week on charges of sexual abuse,” said Special Prosecutor Gunning, citing the arrest of former Respite Worker, James Whetstone of Albany. “This defendant, like her colleague, allegedly used the victim for her own sexual gratification. We will hold this defendant accountable for her misconduct. People seeking to recover from addiction and chemical dependency should not be subjected to such abuse.”

Special Prosecutor Gunning added: “The Justice Center has partnered with OASAS in educational and prevention efforts to assist direct support staff in understanding their obligations and responsibilities to protect residents from abuse and neglect.  We are confident that OASAS will address any issues that may exist at Hope House.” 

The defendant was arraigned in the Town of Colonie Justice Court before the Honorable Andrew C. Sommers and released under the supervision of the Albany County Department of Probation. The Justice Center is leading the prosecution with Supervising Assistant Special Prosecutor Rachel Dunn prosecuting the case. The Justice Center conducted the investigation and arrested the defendant with assistance from the Town of Colonie Police Department.

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.