Five months after a jury convicted him of multiple counts of patient cruelty, a former forensic nurse at our state's maximum security psychiatric hospital has gone to prison.
Mark Cusson and nine coworkers were arrested in connection with the abuse of patient Bill Shehadi in 2017, a story broken by NBC Connecticut Investigates.
Cusson received the largest sentence to date in the abuse case at the Whiting Forensic Hospital in Middletown.
Cusson did not react as Judge Jose Suarez sentenced him to 15 years in prison, suspended after he serves five. His wife and two daughters were behind him in the gallery, sobbing.
He was arrested in 2017, for among other things, putting a mop on Shehadi's head, and other incidents of patient abuse, all of it caught on surveillance video.
At the sentencing, Shehadi's brother said "my brother is a human being. Mr. Cusson lost sight of that.”
Cusson's attorney Norm Pattis, who put up a spirited defense of his client at trial, knocking down half the charges against him, brought ten witnesses to the sentencing, including Cusson's teenage daughters, who asked the judge for leniency.
They described him as a dedicated family man, who, when he was a forensic nurse at Whiting, always looked out for Shehadi, despite him being a mostly non-verbal, incontinent patient, who regularly attacked staffers.
Former co-worker Harold Hempstead said, "people will never understand what it is like to work at Whiting. We have little or no specialized training”
The judge said he struggled with taking Cusson away from his wife and daughters for five years, but in the end concluded Cusson failed to treat Shehadi with compassion or dignity.
Cusson's attorney Norm Pattis said Cusson will appeal the sentence.