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Calif. threatens to shut down Sonoma disability center amid patient abuse

Posted Dec 17 2012 1:17am

California Watch has a series of stories recently discussing abuses and California’s developmental centers and failures by their in in-house law enforcement to properly investigate and prosecute those at fault.  In a news story out this past week, Sacramento’s TV channel 10 has a story:

Here’s the introduction:

The state’s largest board-and-care center for the severely disabled lost its primary license to operate today, after repeatedly exposing patients to abuse and shoddy medical care.

State regulators cited the Sonoma Developmental Center, which houses more than 500 patients, for dozens of cases where patients were put at risk of injury or death. In issuing the citations, the state moved to shut down a major portion of the century-old institution.

The Sonoma Developmental Center is an institution for the developmentally disabled, mostly adults who are considered to have needs too great to be served in community placements. These would also include those most at risk of abuse.

The California Department of Developmental Services has an in-house police force. In the case of the Sonoma Developmental Center, multiple accusations of sexual abuse have been levied, but the CDDS’ police did not pursue those cases–to the point of failing to even take critical evidence (rape kits) on the victims. Control over the in=house police in Sonoma has been handed over to someone brought in from outside the service:

The department announced it was putting Frank Parrish, assistant chief of the California Highway Patrol, temporarily in charge of the Office of Protective Services’ unit at the Sonoma center. The highway patrol “is in the process of evaluating the issues to ensure the delivery of appropriate services,” the department said in a release.

Another recent story by the California Watch describes in more detail some of the problems at Sonoma: Police ignored, mishandled sex assaults reported by disabled . It is just mind boggling what appears to be happening based on the reports there.

Putting a couple different points together one ends up with this sad paradox: an individual with intellectual disability is considered incapable of giving consent for sex. However, the complaints must come from the individual and if the level of intellectual disability is too high, no one will accept their accusation. Unless someone is caught by evidence, nothing will happen. And the in-house police force isn’t taking evidence.


By Matt Carey


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