Editorial: Crime and negligence?
Some crimes shock more than others, and the 2009 burglary and attack of an elderly couple in their Scotia home was one such crime. That wasn’t just because the male victim, Julius Gelber, was a well-known urologist in Schenectady. but because of the brutality of the attack, in which his wife Elisabeth was tied up, beaten and left in a coma for weeks.
Both have since died, and the perpetrator, Juan McCray is in prison, but that’s not the end of the matter as far as the Gelber family is concerned. They recently filed a lawsuit against the company that employed McCray’s wife as a home-health aide, claiming that negligence and carelessness on its part was the proximate cause of the attack.
Two weeks before the attack, McCray’s wife brought him with her to the Gelbers’ home. This was a violation of the Gelbers’ privacy, and the company’s policy.
The Gelbers complained, and company officials now say they investigated, visited the house, and reported the incident to the state Health Department. But how thorough could their investigation have been if it didn’t turn up the fact that Juan McCray had a long criminal history which included drug offenses, robberies and attacks on the elderly?
Knowledge of this may well have led the Gelbers to take security measures, rather than continue to leave a door open for home-health aides to get in. It was through this door, which McCray learned about during his visit, that he gained access the day of the attack.
The family’s case may not be as clear-cut or strong as the state’s against Juan McCray, who confessed to the crime, but it appears they have one.