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Niskayuna barber shop owner honored by NY Justice Center for reporting abuse

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Theresa Hastings has owned the Niskayuna Barber shop on Nott Street for years. Today, she's getting some special recognition for helping one of her regular customers, who has special needs.

Hastings says last year, after the customer slipped in his chair, his caretaker James Tibbetts started hitting him.

"The man came over and slapped him in the face several times, and then pulled him up by his underwear. He really wasn't doing anything wrong," Hastings said.

Then she says the man, who is wheelchair bound, went out into the street, without supervision.

"He was out there by himself, while the man was getting a haircut," Hastings said.

After processing what she saw, Hastings contacted the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs. They started an investigation that led to Tibbetts' arrest for attempting to endanger the welfare of an incompetent person.

"I couldn't believe that one human being could do that to one another, especially with all the impediments, he can't talk and the only communication he has is rub his hands and smile," Linda Allen, the victim’s sister.

Today, the victim's family was there as Hastings received the Justice Center's Champion award, for making one phone call that made all the difference.

"This happened in a public place where somebody called it in, how many times do things like this happen where nobody is around except for the service recipient and that staff member," says Ed O’Leary of the Justice Center.

Tibbetts was arrested last November and took a plea deal, bumping his charge down to a misdemeanor. Niskayuna court records say that he has finished his jail term.

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