“This went up the whole chain of command.”

September 12, 2018

(Please read and share the attached Hartford Courant story regarding the patient abuse at the Whiting psychiatric center.  I will continue to press for accountability on this issue.  As I note in the article,  “This went up the whole chain of command.”  Send me your comments at[email protected] – thank you.)

Whiting Abuse Defendants Denied Accelerated Rehabilitation, Must Face Trial Or Enter Guilty Plea

(Hartford Courant)

The judge in the Whiting psychiatric center patient-abuse case said that the treatment directed at a single psychiatric patient over a period of weeks in the spring of 2017 “cannot be described as care.”

Rather, she said, it amounts to “intentional conduct perpetrated on a mentally ill person.”

With those words, Superior Court Judge Maureen M. Keegan has denied to the former Whiting nurses and patient-care workers charged with cruelty to persons a probationary program that would have resulted in a dismissal of the charge before a plea was entered or a trial held.

Keegan’s written ruling means the defendants, whose conduct was captured on a video surveillance tape that the judge referenced in her ruling, will either enter guilty pleas to the cruelty charges and an accompanying misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct, or face trial in Superior Court in Middletown.

The cruelty charge is a felony.

Had they been granted accelerated rehabilitation, the charges would have been dismissed after a year.

 “It shows how seriously the judge is taking these charges,” said Sen. Heather Somers, a Republican of Groton who organized a legislative hearing in November that brought the abuse allegations into full relief, largely through the testimony of the victim’s brother, a health care financing executive from Greenwich.

The scandal, the resulting media coverage, and the legislative inquires led to an overhaul of the maximum-security Whiting facility, which houses patients who have been acquitted of crimes by reason of insanity.

Once a division of Connecticut Valley Hospital, the renamed Whiting Forensic Hospital is now a separate entity with a new director and new managers.

The patient who was the subject of abuse, William Shehadi, had been charged with manslaughter in the death of his father and entered Whiting in 1995. His commitment ended 13 years ago, but it has been extended in two-year increments ever since because of his profound mental illness, according to records of the Psychiatric Security Review Board.

“This went up the whole chain of command,” Somers said of the abuse scandal, which resulted in the firings or forced retirements of more than 30 workers, including the 10 who were arrested.

 “No manager had an excuse. You can’t feign ignorance if your job is to be responsible for the people who have the patient contact.”

Albert Shehadi, the patient’s brother, has brought twin state and federal lawsuits against the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, alleging that William Shehadi was tortured and management ignored it.

Keegan noted that the camera that recorded the conduct “had been installed in Shehadi’s room many years earlier.”

Mental health officials admitted after the scandal broke that the surveillance tapes were not routinely checked.