Mental health counselor accused of raping man in her care

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Prosecutors have accused a local mental health counselor of raping and sexually abusing a man in her care.

Hamburg resident Pamela Grzechowiak, 46, used to work for Cazenovia Recovery Systems in Buffalo. Authorities say it was during this time that she took advantage of one of her patients. Grzechowiak faces a felony rape charge, along with two misdemeanors for sexual abuse and misconduct.

Cazenovia Recovery Systems told News 4 it immediately terminated Grzechowiak’s employment upon learning about the incident on March 1, 2016. “Cazenovia Recovery Systems took all the necessary and appropriate actions in response to this situation,” the private not-for-profit corporation told News 4 in a written release. “We have fully cooperated with the New York State Justice Center in their investigation and will continue to do so. We commend the Justice Center for protecting vulnerable populations throughout New York State.”

“With the epidemic of substance abuse spreading across the state, we need to be extremely vigilant to be sure that individuals receiving treatment are not being abused by people responsible for their care,” Special Prosecutor Patricia Gunning said. “Employees, regardless of gender, must be held accountable for taking advantage of and having sexual contact with residents who are legally incapable of consent.”

Grzechowiak was arraigned before Hon. Penny Wolfgang in State Supreme Court Wednesday and was released on her recognizance, to appear in court at a later date.

Earlier this week, the Justice Center announced the indictment of a nurse at ECMC on charges of rape and sexual abuse, after he allegedly had sex with a female patient in his care.

The Justice Center runs a 24 hour hotline and incident reporting system to receive reports of allegations of abuse or neglect of people with special needs, and when appropriate, cases are assigned to the Justice Center’s investigation team or to a local law enforcement agency for follow-up. The Justice Center also maintains a statewide registry of all persons who have been found to be responsible for serious or repeated acts of abuse and neglect.

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