Albany, NY – NYS Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs Special Prosecutor Patricia E. Gunning today announced the arrest of an Albany man, employed as a Respite Worker at Hope House in Albany, on charges he raped a teenage girl in his care.

James Whetstone (DOB: 02/20/1984) of Albany, 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, class “A” misdemeanor.

The charges stem from a September incident in which the defendant, working an overnight shift at Hope House assigned as direct care staff, engaged in sexual intercourse with a resident under the age of 18. Sex crimes under the state penal law include sexual contact of any kind between an employee and a patient when the employee has reason to know their patient is placed at a facility licensed or certified by the NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS). Hope House, which is certified by OASAS, terminated Whetstone from his position prior to his arrest.

“People receiving treatment at residential centers are there to recover from chemical addictions and dependencies,” said Special Prosecutor Gunning. “Employees who abuse these individuals for their own sexual gratification, especially by targeting a teenager who is trying to get help for addiction, are not only breaking the law but they risk undermining and causing a setback to a person’s recovery. For such misconduct, they have to be held accountable.”

The defendant was arraigned in Albany City Court before the Honorable Judge Gary F. Stiglmeier of Albany City Court 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 by the Albany 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.