Psychiatrist Testifies in Whiting Patient Abuse Trial - NBC Connecticut
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Psychiatrist Testifies in Whiting Patient Abuse Trial

NBC Connecticut Investigates broke the story of alleged patient abuse at Whiting Forensic Hospital two years ago

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    Psychiatrist Testifies in Whiting Abuse Trial

    A psychiatrist who treated a patient who was abused at Whiting Forensic Division in Middletown testified Wednesday at the trial of a former nurse accused of participating in the abuse.

    (Published Wednesday, March 27, 2019)

    The psychiatrist who treated the victim in a high profile patient abuse case took the stand on day three of the criminal trial of one of his caregivers.

    Two years ago NBC Connecticut Investigates broke the story about the abuse at the Whiting Forensic Division in Middletown.

    The psychiatrist provided insight the prosecution wanted to give the jury. But the defense spent a much longer stretch grilling him, suggesting patient Bill Shehadi was exceptionally difficult and staffers, including the one on trial, had little direction on handling him.

    Dr. James Gusfa spent hours giving testimony in the trial of former forensic nurse Mark Cusson.

    Cusson is accused, along with nine others, of abusing patient Bill Shehadi, a man in his 50s at the Whiting two years ago.

    Gusfa described Shehadi as a difficult patient. He said, "...might become highly explosive, he might become aggressive, and start to threaten others.”

    Gusfa added none of that excuses actions including putting a mop on Shehadi's head, as the prosecution said Cusson can be seen doing on video surveillance.

    Cusson's attorney Norm Pattis clashed with Gusfa.

    Gusfa explained Shehadi had become less difficult to deal with as he advanced in years, "...as he has aged, his aggression has become less intense.”

    Pattis countered, compared to what? Since Shehadi had been such a difficult patient in the first place.

    Gusfa admitted in spite of staff writing down what Shehadi did every 15 minutes, to his knowledge there was no summary of all Shehadi's violence involving staff , and Shehadi was not on any powerful prescriptions to curb his tendencies.

    Gusfa said, "His symptoms, were so chronic, and treatment resistant, he didn't sufficiently respond to those.”

    The defense is expected to begin calling witnesses soon.

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