9 Arrested for Alleged Repeated Abuse of Psychiatric Patient
The alleged repeated abuse, including physical, mental and sexual, was caught on surveillance video, according to police.
Nine staff members at a maximum-security psychiatric hospital have been arrested in connection with the recurring abuse of a long-time patient.
Each worker at the Whiting Forensic Division of Connecticut Valley Hospital in Middletown has been charged with cruelty to persons and disorderly conduct, reports The Courant. Thirty-one other employees were suspended for their role in the abuse.
Connecticut State Police say more arrests are expected.
The facility is the only maximum-security hospital for the criminally insane in the state of Connecticut, which consists of 106 maximum security beds and 141 enhanced security beds.
The alleged victim, a 62-year-old male, has been a patient at the hospital since 1995, when he was acquitted by reason of mental disease or defect in the death of his elderly father. The victim has since been relocated to another facility, although his court-ordered commitment has expired.
Police say surveillance video shows the patient being methodically kicked, poked at and taunted by staff members over a period of a few weeks earlier this year.
While the investigation is ongoing, detectives say witnesses described seeing abuse of the patient long before the recent revelations.
The state’s Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) called the allegations “reprehensible” in a statement. The department says it plans to complete its own human resources investigation once the criminal investigation is over, according to the New York Times.
A 100-plus page report compiled by officials at the state’s Department of Public Health says 40 staff members total were seen on video surveillance either partaking in the abuse or witnessing the abuse and not reporting it.
The report also says that eight additional workers were seen either talking on their cell phones or not attending to the patient who is supposed to be under continuous surveillance.
Surveillance tapes allegedly show staff throwing food at the patient and putting a diaper on his head.
In another instance, the patient reached for a glass of liquid which subsequently fell on the floor. Staff members initially cleaned the floor with the patient’s sheet and were later seen “mopping the wet floor and then placed the dirty, wet, mop head on Patient #40’s head, moving the mop back and forth in a jabbing motion,” according to the report.
Another passage from the report says, “FTS #32 (forensic treatment worker) starts hitting/tapping/pulling at patient. FTS #28 gets out of chair and hits the patient, then kicks the patient repeatedly while sitting in chair. FTS #32 kicks the patient in the head. FTS #31 kicks the patient while the patient is in bed.”
DMHAS Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon says that more cameras have been installed and footage is being reviewed both “live and retrospectively”.
Delphin-Rittmon also says the department has conducted staff training for incident reporting, according to Fox 61.
“For the Commissioner to take action like that indicates that much more likely than not that there’s plenty of fire where that smoke is,” says New Haven civil rights attorney John Williams.