Family seeks justice after caretaker's alleged abuse of disabled man

In a video that went viral among Douglas County residents over the weekend, Catherine Roberts, 65, is reportedly seen aggressively shaking Bradley Steele, 23.

Posted: May 17, 2021 8:05 PM
Updated: May 17, 2021 9:39 PM

ROSEBURG, Ore. – A Roseburg family is demanding answers after their disabled, non-verbal son was allegedly abused by his home caretaker.

In a video that went viral among Douglas County residents over the weekend, Catherine Roberts, 65, is reportedly seen aggressively shaking Bradley Steele, 23, and telling him to “knock it off" and that she's "so sick and tired" of him.

This allegedly took place in the early hours of April 1.

“She could’ve harmed him really badly,” said Shelly Steele, Bradley's mother. “This took place in our home with someone we trusted with our son.”

Steele told KEZI 9 News that Bradley has been physically and mentally disabled his entire life. He was born without his interior chest wall, which means he doesn’t have a rib cage. He underwent surgery when he was very young and it resulted in brain damage. Steele said Bradley requires 24-hour attention, which is why they have a day and nighttime nurse.

She said Roberts has been with the family for more than a year and had been fairly kind to Bradley. However, she said she noticed her behavior change recently.

“Our 13-year-old is the one that first told us she was not talking very nice to Bradley,” said Steele.

She said Bradley and the whole family have all been shaken up about the incident. 

“He’s always been extremely happy, great personality,” she said. “But he startles easy now.”

Since it happened, Roberts was charged with criminal mistreatment, assault and harassment. However, Steele said a grand jury decided to drop the criminal mistreatment and assault charges, which was a huge shock to the family.

“Their only explanation to me was that he couldn’t tell with his disability or the brain damage, he couldn’t communicate if what she did hurt him or not,” she said.

Roberts was arraigned and pleaded not guilty to the harassment charge on Monday at the Douglas County Courthouse. KEZI 9 News reached out to the District Attorney’s office to find out why the charges were dropped; however, they never got back to us.

Steele said she is not going down without a fight.

“I’m not just doing this for Bradley,” she said. “I am, he is my main concern. But this can’t happen to other people.”

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