An aide at the state’s Tryon Residential Facility who was allegedly attacked by a teen resident in July died late Tuesday night.
Charles Loftly, 60, of Utica, a youth development aide at the facility, suffered a stroke last week and had been in a coma at a Utica hospital.
Officials from the state Office of Child and Family Services, which runs Tryon, were meeting with residents and staff today at the facility, according to agency spokeswoman Susan Steele.
"We know it's a tough day for them, and we want to be here to show them that," Steele said. "That should signal to the Tryon community that they are valued and that we care and we share in their grief today."
Loftly suffered the stroke about a month after he was struck in the back of the head with a piece of wood by a male resident at Tryon on July 16. According to state police, a 16-year-old Tryon resident, Randall Bell, was responsible for the attack on Loftly. He was arrested on July 16, charged with second-degree assault, a felony, and sent to the Fulton County Correctional Facility Tuesday evening on $2,500 cash or $5,000 bond bail, according to jail officials.
State police said the assault happened in Bell’s housing unit. They said Bell removed a piece of wood from a desk and struck Loftly in the back of the head. Geraghty said Loftly was attacked in an apparent escape attempt orchestrated by at least three Tryon residents. Police said Bell was the only one charged with the attack.
Fulton County District Attorney Louise Sira said she couldn't speculate on the possibility of additional charges against Bell until after an autopsy determines if the assault played a role in Loftly's death.
"At this time, it's unclear whether those two events are related in any way," Sira said, "and until such time as an autopsy is completed and the results are furnished to this office, we don't yet have an established link between the two events."
Darcy Wells, a spokeswoman for the Public Employees Federation, said she expects Loftly's death will spur renewed discussion about the safety of employees at the secured detention facility. Employees and union officials have questioned whether changes in OFCS policy restricting the use of physical force against residents has jeopardized staff safety.
"We've been talking about the workplace violence that's been happening there at Tryon," Wells said. "It brings another level of urgency to that discussion. His assault may not have been discussed so much at length had this not happened."