Warren man sentenced 7 months prison for abusing 16-year-old autistic patient
A Warren man has been sentenced in court on Monday to abusing a 16-year-old autistic patient at a behavior health clinic back in 2022.
20-year-old George Gunther was sentenced to 7 months in prison and two years probation in Trumbull Common Pleas Court Monday.
In a plea deal on September 5, Gunther pled guilty to one count of patient abuse and had his other charge of assault dropped. Gunther was initially scheduled for a jury trial, but a plea deal was taken instead.
The charge stems from an incident from November of 2022 when Gunther alongside co-worker Sultahn Honzu abused the boy, who was described as "autistic and non-functioning."
Prosecutors say there is video evidence of Gunther and Honzu repeatedly striking the boy, slamming him against a wall, throwing him into a bed, and verbally abusing him at Penny's Behavioral Healthcare in Hubbard.
In court, Gunther began apologizing for what he did but then changed his mind and tried to convince the judge that his actions were justified because this was a difficult patient.
“I can sit here and tell you guys that I’m guilty but I’m not,” Gunther told the judge. “I got abused every single day I went to work, every single day. Not one day came off. I got bit every, almost every day. I got scratched, I got head butted, I got things thrown at me.”
The victim’s father, John Shaver, told the judge that said his son lived in constant fear and asked for a severe punishment.
"The stuff that happened is common sense. There's no reason for it, you don't need to be trained to know you don't hit a disabled individual and there's no way you should just think you can hit a person and walk away,” Shaver said.
Honzu pled guilty to his charges in this case back in March of 2023. He too pled guilty to patient abuse and had his assault charge dismissed. He was sentenced to nine months in prison back in April of 2023.
Both men avoided the maximum sentence of 18 months in prison for the charge. Prosecutors originally suggested a sentence of nine months in prison, a $5,000 fine and two years of probation once released for Gunther. However, the judge felt Honzu's actions were more egregious than Gunther's so he handed down a shorter prison sentence.