A New Orleans family says a representative from a social work agency punched and verbally abused a 13-year-old boy, in an altercation caught on video.
Nola.com reports Quishandra Walker, the boy’s mother, and their lawyer, Juan LaFonta filed a complaint with the Louisiana Department of Health, reported the incident to New Orleans Police and plans to file a lawsuit.
An NOPD spokesman identified the social-work agency representative, Robert Stanley Sr., has been issued a summons for battery in the incident. The counselor involved has not yet been identified because he has not been charged with a crime.
The incident reportedly occurred on December 29 during a home visit.
After her son left home around 4 a.m. one day without permission, Walker said she asked her son’s counselor to have a conversation with him about his decision to leave and how it worried her. The counselor reportedly works for Empowerment Behavioral Services, described on its website as “a holistic, faith-based counseling agency working diligently to empower individuals in our communities by positively engaging youth, adults and families from the New Orleans region in prevention, early intervention and ongoing support.”
According to Walker, while her son was at his aunt’s house his counselor, Stanley and Stanley’s 17-year-old son paid him a visit. Walker however only expected his counselor.
During the visit the 13-year-old’s councelor and Stanley asked him to step outside to have a talk; he obeyed.
While talking with the men, the 13-year-old boy, who is usually quiet and “stays to himself,” allegedly rolled his eyes, LaFonta said.
Stanley repeatedly cursed at the boy before he punched him in the head, as seen in video captured by a doorbell camera system.
“There’s no logic to what happened,” LaFonta said. “There’s no justification.”
In the video the 13-year-old is seen trying to get back into the house. Stanley then pushes the him and blocks him from the door. According to LaFonta, at this point, the counselor also pushed the boy and prevented him from reaching the door.
The two men left after the 13-year-old boy’s cousins came out of the house, LaFonta said.
While the boy’s family plans to sue for a monetary reward, LaFonta said they are more concerned with preventing future incidents. LaFonta and Walker said the state’s Department of Health should improve its vetting of social services agencies who are directly involved with children. Stanley’s name reportedly does not appear on the Louisiana State Board of Social Work Examiners website’s database of licensed social workers.
“Black kids have it tough enough in this city without being abused by social workers,” LaFonta said.