Family says disabled son sexually assaulted in group home



ORLANDO, Fla. - Channel 9 has discovered new allegations against a handful of group homes for disabled adults in four central Florida counties.

A family that saw Kenneth Craig's report on Monday about the organization Central Florida Group Homes said they're suing the company because their adult son was assaulted under its care.

Joseph Marullo said his son was repeatedly assaulted while under the organization's care.

Central Florida Group Homes, which runs 17 homes, is also in a heated battle with state regulators about the care of their residents.

"We trusted them, just like they were family, like an extension of our family," said Marullo.

Joseph and Rita Marullo said their son was sexually assaulted and they were outraged when they didn't find out immediately.

They've since filed a lawsuit claiming the group home was negligent.

"He was sexually abused by another client there, which is bad enough, but he told the staff repeatedly and they never told us, contacted anyone," said Rita Marullo.

The family said they removed their son from the home and have been in a legal battle ever since.

For years, the family said their cries for help to the state, the Department of Children and Families and the State Attorney's Office were fruitless.

"I just felt like nothing was really done," said Joseph Marullo. "Roadblock after roadblock after roadblock."

The Marullos said everything changed when Craig first exposed the organization on Monday and learned state has filed a new complaint against the organization.

"I was very surprised, and then I thought, 'You know what, this is the time we need to tell Joey's story, my son's story,'" said Rita Marullo.

The Marullos went on to say they're hoping their story moves other parents to come forward.

Their lawsuit has been working its way through the courts for several years now. The family said they don't want any money, they just want the home turned around or shut down.