Fake Brain Doc at ‘Filthy’ Special-Needs School iBRAIN Uses Kids as ‘Guinea Pigs,’ Lawsuit Claims

One New York City Private School for Children with Special Needs with Brain Disorders is said to be so filthy that students’ wheelchairs are full of cockroaches and are operated by a scandalous chiropractor disguised as a “neurologist” who specializes in hunting female employees.

worrying The allegations are detailed in a lawsuit obtained by The Daily Beastfiled on Monday by a one-time employee who left in December at International Institute of the Brain (iBRAIN) on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

In it, Katelyn Newman, a former iBRAIN publicity collaborator, also claimed, among other things, that the school had hired at least one convicted felon who scammed to pose as a doctor and officer. The US Navy forged for years, forced children to do science experiments without proper consent, and lacked basic classroom necessities like pencils and chairs even when the state paid for it. tuition up to $350,000 per student.

“This is a major crime,” Newman’s attorney, Kenneth McCallion, told The Daily Beast on Tuesday, noting that his client was “severely traumatized from the whole experience” and had to start seeing the doctor. therapist to recover.

A former prosecutor currently litigating civil cases, McCallion—who previously contributed several opinion pieces to The Daily Beast—said he hopes to “pivot the interest of the Attorney General and Ed Council” with the filing.

When Newman began working at iBRAIN in August 2022, “the first thing she noticed was that the facility located on East 91st Street was extremely dirty and unsanitary,” her lawsuit states. “Floors are often not washed, spiders and bugs are everywhere, often there is no toilet paper, tissues, soap, hand sanitizer or running water in the bathroom.”

Cockroaches “are so common that they sometimes nest in student wheelchairs,” the filing continues, noting that there is no working air conditioning in the hot summer, and that plumbing leaks are common. often “filled with Dorito bags or whatever else is available.”

“At one point, some disgusting and foul-smelling scum began to fall from the ceiling in [the] the therapist’s office area, but no immediate instructions were given to leave the facility,” it continued. “The carcass of a rat can be seen for a long time before it is finally removed, and the ceiling above the entrance where the children entered the building is falling.”

But that’s not the worst, according to Newman’s lawsuit. who is called iBRAIN’s chief innovation officer, Dr. Victor PedroWho claims to have treated ’80s pop star Paula Abdul with a method of testing that medical experts say is quack, “self-proclaimed a neuroscientist or neuroscientist,” Newman claimed. However, “he is a chiropractor from Rhode Island, not a neurologist or neurologist as he appears to be.” Pedro “calls it ‘innovation therapy’ Cortical Integrative Therapy (‘CIT’), but he seems to be the only one performing this controversial (and largely rejected) so-called therapy. ,” Newman alleges, noting that iBRAIN administrators engaged in “neural brain”-conferences as part of their job.

“After digging more, [Newman] discovered that Dr. Pedro had graduated with a BS at the University of Vermont in 1981, transferred to Boston University to study dentistry, but ended up becoming an orthopedist, graduating from the New York College of Chiropractic in the same year. 1983,” the lawsuit states. that Pedro’s chiropractic license expired in December 2021. In 2017, the lawsuit continued, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) denied CIT because it failed to issue a “certificate scientific evidence that verifies the effectiveness of the CIT, as well as any indication that the CIT is subject to such assessment.”

Newman alleges Pedro showed her a set of presentations on “brain power points… promoting various controversial techniques that have not been approved by the FDA or apparently any government agency. other approved, and essentially, [Newman’s] see, used children as guinea pigs for his experiments.” Her lawsuit also alleges Pedro sexually harassed him, including making inappropriate comments about Newman’s appearance and clothes, and frequently crossing the line from “harmless flirting” to “innocent flirting”. something much more sinister.

Pedro and iBRAIN officials did not immediately respond to emails and voicemails from The Daily Beast on Tuesday seeking comment.

iBRAIN administrators routinely forge documents and falsely report student progress, and perform procedures — such as fixing children’s gastrostomy tubes — that they are not certified to. accepted to do, according to Newman, who alleges a student “had to go to the hospital [from a poorly-executed gastric tube adjustment] because his circulation was impeded, and his legs swelled up.” Other children went to the school nurse with “bruises, cuts, nosebleeds, and other evidence of abuse through neglect,” Newman’s lawsuit claims.

Finally, Newman says she “started to worry for her and the children’s safety when she heard other staff and teachers at iBRAIN say that there are ‘former defects’ working there.” , who have not had a thorough background check.” One of these officers was “Dr. Alim Shariff,” who identifies himself as a Harvard-trained behavioral psychologist and Navy officer. Reserve, according to Newman. real name is Rodney Robinson and is currently facing federal prison for his alleged behavior that spans many yearsattended meetings with upper management and worked with children with special needs “every day,” Newman said in her lawsuit, but “wasn’t challenged over fake login credentials.” his or the so-called ‘clinical work’ in which he was engaged, which, based on information and belief, turned out to be a complete fraud.”

It is not clear when exactly Robinson, who was arrested and charged in February 2021, worked at iBRAIN; his name no longer listed on the school website. However, a criminal complaint was filed in Manhattan federal court stating that Robinson “spent years” posing as Shariff, and “earned employment at various social and rehabilitation service providers in the New York City area” using fake identification.

The longer she was there, the more Newman became suspicious of iBRAIN, which has a second location in Brooklyn. The school that is the first in the United States to reopen as the pandemic continues to ravage the nation, received about $1.8 million in emergency COVID funds under the federal Paycheck Protection Program, but wages have begun to rise. Some employees are required to receive cash wages from the school’s founder’s doorman in Central Park West. Others were paid by the founder himself, an attorney named Patrick Donohue, who allegedly cut personal checks to cover iBRAIN’s payroll. (Donohue did not respond to multiple emails or voicemail messages left on his cell phone on Tuesday.)

During the COVID outbreak, faculty and staff were reportedly prohibited from wearing masks, “even when around immunocompromised children/adolescents,” which, according to Newman, was contrary to medical orders. public health of the State of New York at that time. And while New York State is perhaps iBrain’s biggest philanthropist, offering “between $100,000 and $350,000 per student for tuition at iBRAIN, depending on the severity of the student’s disability.” students,” said Newman in her suit, that she still finds “a lack of basic materials needed to effectively address student goals, such as educational toys, oral motor , sensory modifiers, iPads, educational software, chairs, pencils and other educational devices.”

Last November, after being “repeatedly belittled and disrespected” by her superiors, who claimed she had been subjected to verbal abuse and humiliation so severely that she began seeing a therapist, Newman said. tried to quit. Her bosses promised they would change their ways, and Newman tried. But the problems persisted, Newman announced, and on December 13, she submitted her resignation.

After resigning but keeping in touch with current and former employees, Newman’s lawsuit alleges that iBrain administrators sent letters to her parents, fiancée, and several business contacts. and profession, “falsely alleges that she violated ‘New York State Child Abuse and Neglect statutes,’ and that she spread ‘false, inaccurate information’ and unfounded harm to iBRAIN….” According to Newman, this was retaliation aimed at “destroying her personal and professional reputation”.

All in all, McCallion told The Daily Beast, it was nothing more than “psychological torture”.

Newman is seeking a jury trial and damages will be determined in court.

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