Courts question Justice Center’s right to prosecute

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – A New York state agency created to protect people in institutional care from abuse and neglect has lost three criminal cases this year after judges ruled that it didn’t have the power to prosecute.

The rulings could jeopardize past convictions and undermine the Justice Center’s efforts to root out mistreatment.

The three cases involved two youth home employees and a drug counselor charged with sexually abusing clients.

Judges in Albany County dismissed the cases after determining that the Justice Center cannot prosecute cases unless it’s working under the supervision of a district attorney or the attorney general.

Democratic Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, of Westchester, says the rulings amount to a “get out of jail free” card for abusers because the Justice Center hasn’t been following the law.

A Justice Center spokesman declined to comment.

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