UCP worker charged with punching autistic man

An employee at Upstate
Cerebral Palsy is accused of punching one of the autistic residents in the face, sending the handicapped man to the hospital for stitches.

Derek DiCastro told investigators, however, that the resident merely tripped and fell, causing the injuries, according to his statement.

DiCastro, 22, of 912 Laurel St., pleaded not guilty before City Court Judge Daniel C. Wilson Tuesday on a charge of third-degree assault. His case was adjourned to Oct. 19. DiCastro was released after posting bail.

Police said at 10:15 a.m. Oct. 5, DiCastro punched one of the autistic residents in the face at Upstate Cerebral Palsy on Brookley Road. Police said the victim had to get seven stitches to close the wound at Rome Memorial Hospital.

According to a witness, DiCastro was helping to care for the victim in one of the bathrooms at the facility. The witness told police that the victim smeared feces on DiCastro, causing DiCastro to then punch the man in the face in response.

The victim "scratched his butt and when he did that he had feces on his left hand. (The victim) then proceeded to go and scratch Derek DiCastro’s arm," the witness told police.

"When he was attempting to do that, Derek DiCastro went to block him from doing that. In the process of Derek DiCastro block him, feces was smeared on the shirt of Derek DiCastro. After this happened, Derek DiCastro cocked his right arm back and punched (the victim) in the left side of his face on his lip, causing a laceration."

DiCastro said he was initially suspended without pay from Upstate Cerebral Palsy. Calls to the agency’s main office in Utica were not returned this morning.

DiCastro was taken into custody on Monday.


In his own statement, DiCastro police that the victim tripped in all the confusion and hit his face on a trash can that was bolted to the bathroom wall.

"He then tried to hit and scratch me. He was trying to hit me," DiCastro said of the victim. After he was smeared, DiCastro said the victim, "tried to run out the door. (The witness) grabbed his arm and (the victim) tripped. His feet came out from underneath him and he went face first into the garbage can."