Police: Owner of Unopened Cafe Assaulted Intellectually Disabled Worker - NBC10 Boston

Police: Owner of Unopened Cafe Assaulted Intellectually Disabled Worker

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    The owner of a Massachusetts coffee lounge that has not yet opened has been charged with assaulting a mentally disabled worker.

    Police said Hugs & Yums owner Charles El-Helou, 53, of Brockton, attacked a 25-year-old man who was working as a painter and laborer at the Middleborough business.

    The victim's mother, a Freetown woman, told police El-Helou tried to persuade her son to sign over his vehicle's title to him, allegedly promising to buy him a new truck.

    On June 3, police said, the victim told El-Helou that his vehicle was being repaired and that he was unable to come to work the following day. El-Helou allegedly claimed to own the vehicle, then "grabbed the man by the neck and made a growling sound before releasing him," according to police.

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    Police released footage of a mother who said she accidentally left her 5-month-old in a car for half an hour in a Goodyear, Arizona, parking lot when she, her sister and other daughter went into the store. Officers are heard on camera saying it was about 99 degrees outside. 

    (Published Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019)

    Police said the man worked for Hugs & Yums until June 14, but was not paid. When he returned with his uncle to retrive his tools, El-Helou gave him "a quantity of cash," police said.

    El-Helou was arrested Friday and charged with assault and battery on a person with an intellectual disability. Police say he is known to the department and more charges could be filed against him.

    "This is a disturbing and unfortunate situation, in which we believe vulnerable citizens were being taken advantage of, and we urge all of our residents to be vigilant."

    Hugs & Yums, whose logo features the slogan "Where the care begins," describes itself on its Facebook page as "a small business run by employees with Down Syndrome and special needs."

    El-Helou was held on $500 bail and will be arraigned Monday in Wareham District Court. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney.


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