Friday, February 21, 1997

Michele Miltz tells her horror story of how a sudden attack on the job at Ohel Family Services

David Mandel - CEO of Ohel Family Services

We all need to honor and thank Michele Miltz for her bravery when she shared her story about being sexually assaulted by one of Ohel's clients back in 1993.  She should be seen as a hero for speaking out publicly.  

The Awareness Center was informed that Michele Miltz was one of at least 10 staff members who were sexually assaulted by clients at Ohel, yet allegedly the mental health agency failed to protect them.

The saddest part of this story is that David Mandel disputed the claims made against his agency and allegedly continues to cover them up.   

A Sudden Attack Sparks Crusade
by Ellis Henican
Newsday - February 21, 1997

Michele Miltz tells her horror story of how a sudden attack on the job has changed her life and made her a crusader.

The house is no different from the other houses on the block.

Not so you'd notice anyway.

Bedrooms upstairs. A kitchen down. A spacious living room. Just another big house on Gateway Boulevard in Far Rockaway, a residential block like blocks all over the borough.

Which is precisely the point.

The Bais Ezra Community Residence, as the house is called, is for mentally ill adults, an alternative to the big snake-pit institutions where most mental patients once were parked.

"It's a perfectly wonderful idea," Michele Miltz was saying. "Perfectly wonderful, depending on what kinds of problems the particular clients have."

That's a distinction this 37-year-old mother of five has learned about the hard way.

Miltz was a staff nurse at the Bais Ezra house, looking after the residents' medical and dietary needs. One day in 1993, she was in her small office on her second floor, doing paperwork.

"I was sitting at my desk," she recalled. A resident named Jeffrey came in.

Jeffrey asked about a dental appointment Miltz had set up. "I told him, `It's not a problem. It's a regular appointment. We'll talk about it before you go.'

"The next thing I noticed I was flying through the air."

Jeffrey was about 5-foot-9 and 200 pounds. Miltz is 5-foot-2 1/2 - inches and 115 pounds. He did not have much trouble overpowering her.

Miltz was wearing a red V-neck dress that day. "He grabbed me on the V," she remembered. "He tossed me up in the air. My head hit the floor. Then he dragged me what must have been 10 feet, and he jumped on top of me.

"He was sitting on my knees. He pulled my dress above my head. My bra was up at my throat. His hands were around my neck. He had me pinned like that. The worst part was that I couldn't scream."

Four times, Miltz said, she faded out of consciousness. "The more I twisted, the angrier he got," she said.

Eventually, some other staff members rushed to help. After a difficult struggle, they pulled Jeffrey off.

It's been almost four years now since that horrible day in that average-looking house. But the echos haven't even begun to fade.

Miltz says her health has never been the same since the sexual assault. She was bruised and battered and wracked with pain. Her back was in a brace for months. She's had two major operations on her right leg. A third is planned.

She has filed a multi-million-dollar lawsuit that is winding its way toward trial. In court papers, she says Jeffrey had been involved in seven previous outbursts at the home.

And suddenly, Michele Miltz finds herself at the center of a hotly contested political debate that goes far beyond her own case.

The fight for victims of the on-the-job assault.

Like many people in her position, Miltz was told to make her claim with the state's notoriously stingy Workers Compensation Board.

But Miltz' lawyer, Alan Kestenbaum, said last night he has found a way around that general rule. He isn't suing Bais Ezra, Miltz' direct employer. He's suing another nonprofit group, OHEL Family and Childrens Services, the agency he says is responsible for supervising
the Bais Ezra home.

"They really are one and the same," Kestenbaum said. "OHEL is responsible for the day-to-day operations of Bais Ezra."

David Mandel, OHEL's chief, disputed that claim yesterday.

"OHEL did not do anything wrong and was not negligent," he said in a written statement.
"Therefore, OHEL is taking the necessary measures to defend itself against an unmerited lawsuit."

This whole issue of Workers Comp is suddenly hot, after the recent big-dollar settlement of a lawsuit against Saks Fifth Avenue. The case was brought by a Saks executive who was sexually assaulted by a security guard.

"The Miltz case is yet another example of why Workers Compensation sells workers short," said Manhattan attorney Elizabeth Mason, who represented the woman in the Saks case.

Mason, the National Organization for Women and other groups have been pushing for a change in State Law, allowing lawsuits by victims like these. Legislation has been proposed by Assemb. Catherine Abate of Manhattan.

"I never thought I would become a crusader for something like this,"said Miltz, who lives with her family in Long Beach. "I have a daughter who's retarded. So I'm not the lock-em-all-up type."

The Queens district attorney considered criminal charges against Jeffrey, but decided not to proceed. Jeffrey has since been moved, prosecutors said, to a more secure institution. (Miltz reports she was horrified to see him one day at the camp her daughter attends.)

For her part, Miltz said she's eager to help get changes in the Workers Comp law. "I'll speak," she said. "They can use my name. I'll do whatever I can.

"If they want me to," she added, "I'll even bring the bra."

Tuesday, February 11, 1997

Controversy of the making of the movie "Lolita" - Fox News Chicago

Controversy of the making of the movie "Lolita"
Fox News - February 11, 1997

Vicki Polin, MA, LCPC, NCC ---- who was the director of The Awareness Center (which at the time was a holistic counseling center in Chicago), was on Fox News back on February 11, 1997 speaking about the dangers of promoting child sexual abuse as a black comedy.  The topic was the releasing of the remake of the movie "Lolita".  

NOTE: Fox News made an error when producing this news clip.  Vicki Polin is a licensed counselor and not a psychologist.