The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters obtained arrest warrant affidavits for multiple staffers arrested in an alleged patient abuse case at the Whiting Forensic Division, Connecticut’s maximum security psychiatric hospital.
The nine files were unsealed nearly a month after the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters broke the story of the nine arrests. These arrest warrant affidavits connect the dots, in terms of who is accused of doing what.
Perhaps even more eye opening, is what those staffers said to investigators.
The documents said the staffers arrested stand accused of offenses of varying degrees, from as severe as kicking a 59-year-old patient to the point of knocking him off his bed, to putting a soiled diaper on his head, to simply poking him repeatedly.
It happened over a month long period earlier this year, all of it on surveillance tape, some seen by the patient's co-conservator Karen Kangas, who said, "I thought, 'My goodness, why would you be doing this?' It was just, it looked like, it looked like abuse."
State police apparently agreed. The nine staffers were charged with cruelty to persons.
None spoke about the alleged abuse at their court appearances. Two did comment to investigators earlier.
According to the affidavits, mental health worker Greg Giantonio said he, "Had never abused or witnessed anyone ever abusing the patient."
Mental health worker Willie Bethea gave a written statement explaining the patient, "Enjoys engaging in behaviors to get physical contact from staff," and admits he, "was guilty of 'horseplay' but that he has never hurt the patient."
The agency overseeing Whiting said, in part, "The department remains steadfast in its commitment to ensuring that justice is served for our client."
The union representing staffers gave a statement including, "Patient abuse is totally unacceptable. The events of the last few months have made it clear that there is much needed reform required at Whiting Forensic. Our members are working to develop reform policies."
Bethea's attorney told NBC Connecticut, the statement his client gave to police speaks for itself and once the entire picture unfolds, it will become clear his client did not commit any criminal activity.
In a statement, the SEIU Healthcare 1199NE union spokeswoman Jennifer Schneider wrote:
"Patient abuse is totally unacceptable. The events of the last few months have made it clear that there is much needed reform required at Whiting Forensic. Our members are working to develop reform policies in an effort to help eliminate these abuses and make Whiting a safer and more efficient facility.
The Whiting Forensic Division is Connecticut’s maximum security psychiatric hospital. In the Whiting building, there are five in-patient units: three are for admissions to determine whether court-referred citizens may be considered “not guilty by reason of insanity” (NGRI) and two units that house and treat long-term, chronically-ill patients who have been adjudicated and found to meet that standard. Those patients have committed violent crimes, including murder, arson, pedophilia, and rape.
The following are reform proposals from Whiting workers to help bring systemic change to the Whiting Forensic facility.
*Connecticut should conduct a national search for a new Director of the Forensic Division.
*DMHAS should revise and expand training for current employees and orientation for new employees.
*DMHAS must invest in hiring additional staff to provide care and reduce mandatory overtime.
*DMHAS must develop a new approach to behavioral interventions that is better aligned with the particular needs and challenges of the Whiting population."
A spokeswoman for the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services also provided a statement to NBC Connecticut news, stating:
"The Department remains steadfast in its commitment to ensuring that justice is served for our client. The affidavits underscore the importance of the Department’s actions to immediately involve the Connecticut State Police in the investigation into alleged client abuse."