Abuse in Group Homes is a Terrifying Trend in Ohio and Across America

Abuse in Ohio Group HomesWithout having good group homes, our society will be a lot worse off than it is. Our nation’s youth are often put through major setbacks in their lives, such as their parents dying or abandoning them.

Not only children, but there are also adults with no place to turn to during the toughest times, including people who have mental illnesses and/or handicaps that make it difficult for them to get their lives back on track on their own. Group homes have an overall goal of helping those people in these types of situations to gain self-confidence, personal independence, and a better overall quality of life so that they can eventually become responsible, productive members of society.

A good group home would strive to meet these objectives everyday, and offer a caring sanctuary for those troubled persons who need it. There are many situations where young boys and girls also lose their parents or guardians because of issues like incarceration or drug use, and the caregivers at these facilities should be doing their best to make sure those kids don’t go down the same path. A good group home should offer troubled teenagers and kids a safe place to reside away from the dangers of the streets, at least until they can find good foster parents.

The mentally ill and handicapped also deal with issues such as homelessness and abandonment, and they turn to these types of facilities to learn vital life skills such as self-sufficiency, something that they may have struggled with for the better part of their lives.

The truly passionate caretakers at group homes are a special set of people in our society. Not everyone has the heart to look after absolute strangers who have been through all kinds of traumatic situations, many times resulting in their development of seemingly irreversible, negative, pessimistic personalities.

But there are bad apples in every bunch, and some people who work at these facilities are wolves in sheep’s clothing who have ulterior motives. They see these people in need as easy prey, and much of the public is surprised when they realize how frequently crimes like abuse and neglect go on in the shadows of many group homes in Ohio and throughout America.

It’s sickening to think that a relative or friend who is living in a seemingly reputable group home may have caregivers who have the intention of abusing them.

According to the Ohio State Bar Association, there are common types of criminal incidents in these group home facilities that stand out above the rest. They are abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.

Abuse Is More Than Physical Harm

In Ohio, the term ‘abuse’ is defined as knowingly and/or recklessly causing serious physical harm to a person, but in group home facilities this harm can also be mental, emotional, and sexual. This includes if a person is restrained or isolated against their will, or if they are intentionally over medicated by their caretakers.

Verbal Abuse of Children or Disabled PeopleNeglect is defined as when someone fails to provide adequate care, appropriate services, or the proper treatment of the persons (or patients) that they are entrusted to do so with. Financial exploitation in group home settings many times happens when staff members do things like steal gift cards and/or other monetary items from the vulnerable folks who live there.

An important piece of advice that the Ohio State Bar Association gives the family members who have love ones in group home settings is to get to know the signs of abuse. If there’s a sudden change in their behavior, irregular marks on their body, or anything surprisingly different about them with the way they look, act, or feel during your visits, then you should let that be a red flag that something strange could be going on. Really listen to and look at them when you see them in person, so that you can recognize any spontaneous abnormalities, because sometimes they may be too afraid to speak up about being abused or violated.

It’s also important to know that if you suspect abuse may be going on you can always contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

Who Are The Primary Targets for Abuse?

Children with disabilities, the elderly, and the mentally ill are primary targets for predators in these facilities. According to the Nursing Home Law Center, at-risk youth in group home settings (especially if they are handicapped) are at an even higher risk of being abused. The sad part is that so many times these crimes go unreported by the victims. There are some instances where they may have been violated in the same type of way before even coming to the group home, and feel that what they are going through is normal, nothing out of the ordinary that should be talked about.

Handicapped people who get abused live in even more secrecy. These children and adults don’t always communicate as well as people who don’t have disabilities. Abusive caregivers know this, and use it to their advantage by making residents with special needs an even larger, more frequent target. Whenever a group home caregiver is the source of abuse, he or she betrays the resident, their co-workers who are actually trying to do a good job, and the family members who trusted them to look after their loved ones.

Victims Have Increased Rates of Depression, Homelessness, and Drug Abuse

The worst part about group home workers who abuse their residents is when it’s a young person who is going to soon be re-entering society. According to experts, these young people have the biggest chance of getting into all types of trouble when they leave the facility for good. Age eighteen is when they are released in many cases, and after going through what they just went through in a place that was supposed to care for them, statistics say that they are very likely to succumb to things like substance abuse, depression, and homelessness.

Another thing that’s very surprising is that the caretakers in group homes who commit these horrific crimes have a low rate of prosecution. The truth is that when a young person is mentally handicapped, they generally don’t make good witnesses in court (because of things like limited communication skills) and their abusers end up getting away with it.

One Horn News report from 2015 showed in graphic detail how one little boy was threatened and abused by group home staff members at the Northeast Parent & Child Society group home located in Schenectady, New York. The 12-year-old used his PlayStation to record his violators in action. In the video, he has a noticeably swollen eye, looks into the camera, and says “Mom this is what it looks like…he slammed me”. His so-called caretakers can be heard in the background saying awful things like “I’m going to kill a kid…you may be the kid that I kill…” and much more graphic language that’s disturbing in this type of setting, or anywhere else. You can view the Times Union report and the disturbing video by visiting this link: Abuse Lawsuit

Group Homes Are Not Only Place Where It Happens

These kinds of crimes don’t only happen in group homes with handicapped children, but also in schools. A few years ago, there was a terrible situation at Columbia Elementary School in Landen, Ohio. A special needs teacher named Amanda Kitcho abused five kids who were mentally disabled. Like many of these cases, it had gone unreported for some time. But, according to the Associated Press, the school librarian had reported her behavior before, and told police that she was “extremely mean-spirited and verbally abusive”. The librarian also described Kitcho’s acts as “cruel towards these handicapped students” and that she had “no business teaching handicapped children”.

The things that Kitcho put these special needs students through was sickening. She reportedly duct-taped one 11-year-old girl to a chair, and also denied the girl from using her walker (which she was dependent on) and made her crawl across the floor. She also reportedly locked the girl in the bathroom for extended periods of time as she screamed to be let out, stole snacks from children, hit one student in the mouth with a table, and, after one of the special needs kids had a seizure, she purposefully made the child sit in their own vomit.

Denial and Delays in Reporting Abuse

reporting abuse of disabled peopleAccording to Disability Justice, young people with developmental disabilities are four to ten times more likely to be abused than children their own age who don’t have special conditions. They also report that the victims’ abuser is frequently someone that they know from their life very well, and they come in contact with them on a regular basis.

The victims are often times hesitant to report abuse incidents because they feel that no one will believe them. Verbal abuse is sometimes just as bad as physical, being that special needs victims already in many cases have low self-esteem, and consistent taunts and threats can send them deeper and deeper into those dark, negative emotional states.

Statistics show that one in three girls and one in five boys will be abused sexually before they become an adult, and young people with disabilities have a much higher rate than that (this also includes neglect and physical violence). Abusers will sometimes try to control a victims’ behavior by using certain types of medication, or they may try to limit the amount of communication the victim has with their friends and family. These horrible occurrences are easily hidden in group homes, because the truth is a lot of the young people who live there have limited access to local authorities, social services, or other organizations that can help them.

The Columbus Dispatch did a four-month investigation in 2015 that showed how many of the perpetrators of neglect and physical or sexual abuse slip through the cracks, and never do any time in prison. According to their research, in Ohio, a reporting system that developmentally disabled persons use to tell authorities and other agencies when incidents like this are happening to them received over 2,000 reports of sexual abuse over the course of five years. Only 25% of those reports were substantiated. When it came to physical abuse, over 8,600 reports were made, and just under 30% off those were considered valid. The agency in charge of deciding whether or not these reports from victims are legitimate is the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities, and they did a heartbreakingly terrible job.

Good thing that there are places in the State of Ohio that advocate for victims with disabilities, especially when they’ve been abused and neglected in places like group homes. Disability Rights Ohio says in their vision statement that their goal is to make those with disabilities feel like they are full members of society who can make their own decisions about how they live, who they spend their time with, and what life direction they want to go in. They make sure that people with special needs have access to the support systems that can help them when they’re in troublesome situations. The organization makes it their overall mission to be sure that disabled and/or handicapped people in abusive or neglectful situations have a place to turn to, and don’t have feel that they should ever suffer in silence.

In the past several years, Ohio has had several places that have been known for these types of abusive incidents in group home settings. Three of them that stood out were Hope Homes, Evant Inc., and the Adriel School.

Ohio Group Homes with Abusive Backgrounds

What’s confusing to many people is when group homes and similar facilities go out of business one day out of the blue. Hope Homes of Stow, Ohio was one of those places.

For over 50 years they served people with developmental disabilities and special needs. They were looked at as one of the most dependable organizations of its kind in the State, but just this year it was announced that Hope Homes was going out of business for financial reasons. This is being viewed as an emergency situation by REM Ohio who is supposed to take over for Hope Homes, according to a June 2017 report from the Akron Beacon Journal.

The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities issued a suspension notice to Hope Homes last year, because of the facility consistently repeating major violations. According to the department, some of them occurred when members of the Hope Home staff didn’t get patients to their medical appointments. There were also instances where they didn’t adhere to their patient’s doctors instructions.

At least Hope Homes did give a reason why they were closing. When Evant, Inc. announced in April 2017 that they were going to be shutting their doors permanently, they didn’t say exactly why. Dale Ruther was the Board President at Evant, and when the company laid off those almost 200 employees, the official letter didn’t give any explanation. According to the Crain’s Akron Business Report, all the employees knew was that May 31st was going to be the last work day. But other reports that document the organization’s past give eerie insight as to why they may have closed so discreetly.

March 2012 is when State regulators suspended the certification of Evant Inc. in Summit County, shortly after one of their employees was charged with the death of one of their residents. According to The Suburbanite, the man who died by apparently drowning in a bathtub was functionally impaired. The Evant employee who left him unattended turned himself in, and was charged with involuntary manslaughter. When asked to comment on the situation, Evant representatives didn’t return calls to reporters.

News Channel 5 Cleveland reported that three people died in Evant, Inc. homes over a five-month period. One woman died of pneumonia, and her family members say it was because the staff members took too long getting her to the hospital. A couple of weeks later, the same type of situation happened where the staff called 911 too late after witnessing a woman vomiting intensely. The aforementioned man who drowned in the bathtub was the third death. What’s worse is that, after only four short months, Evant got their certification reinstated by the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities.

The Adriel School was another place that had underreported violations, or ones that weren’t reported at all. They went from having from just over 100 calls to local police departments for suspected violations and/or incidents in 2012 to over 200 the following year, then 300 the next year, to over 400 in 2014. In 2015, after one student was viciously bitten, three of their employees were left facing charges of neglect. One of the staff members said that she knew about the situation (the child had horrible bite marks left on his body) but that her superiors had instructed her not to contact the hospital. At one council meeting, a dozen of the Adriel School’s previous and current employees expressed what they had witnessed while they worked there. Some of the things they announced at the meeting where issues such as malnutrition at the facility, an inadequate number of staff members, untrained staff members, and multiple times when they themselves were asked not to call local authorities during times when apparent violations were occurring.

In February 2017, some of the staff at the Adriel School we’re actually caught getting high with some of the young residents there at the group home. Almost exactly a year before, one of the staff members was caught mixing cough syrup with soda and drinking it with students. Shortly after, another one of the workers there was caught sniffing crushed pills through straws with the children. One of their former workers, a woman named Debbie Roberts, said that she was fired after trying to report blatant violations. Some of the kids at the facility weren’t even allowed to go to church service, which is a form of forced social isolation.

We Represent Victims of Group Home Abuse in Ohio

Our Ohio law firm proudly stands up for the rights of children and disabled people in Ohio. This includes all types of abuse and neglect at group homes, foster homes and nursing homes, because we realize that this type of crime goes severely underreported, and happens way more than we may think or want to believe.

Physical, verbal, and sexual abuse in these types of facilities is running rampant in Ohio and all across America. Our law firm uses all of its skills and years of experience to represent these people to the best of our ability, and bring them the justice they deserve.

If you or someone you know is in a group home (with or without a disability) and you feel that an abusive situation is occurring, don’t hesitate to contact us anytime so that we can discuss the details of your case privately and confidentially.

We can be reached by calling 1-888-283-0737, chatting with one of our 24-hour live chat representatives or sending us a website message.

 

Article Sources and References:

Millburn, N. Goals and Objectives for a Successful Group Home. Chron. Retrieved from http://work.chron.com/goals-objectives-successful-group-home-27481.html

2017. Patient Abuse, Neglect and Financial Exploitation are Crimes in Ohio. Ohio Bar Association. Retrieved from https://www.ohiobar.org/ForPublic/Resources/LawYouCanUse/Pages/Patient-Abuse,-Neglect-and-Financial-Exploitation-Are-Crimes-in-Ohio.aspx

Rosenfeld, J. 29 March 2010. Children are Frequently Targets of Abuse in a Group Home Setting. The Nursing Home Law Center. Retrieved from https://www.nursinghomelawcenter.org/nursing-home-abuse/children-are-frequently-targets-of-abuse-in-a-group-home-setting

28 Oct 2015. Disabled Child Makes Heartbreaking Video to Show Group Home Abuse…But No Prosecutions! The Horn News. Retrieved from https://thehornnews.com/disturbingly-small-amount-of-justice-for-disabled-abuse/

Seiler, C. 1 Oct 2015. Video in Abuse Lawsuit Shows Boy Saying “Mom, I’m Scared”. Times Union. Retrieved from
http://blog.timesunion.com/capitol/archives/241422/video-in-abuse-lawsuit-shows-boy-saying-mom-im-scared/

26 January 2014. Ohio Parents’ Lawsuit Accuses Teacher of Duct-taping Girl with Disabilities to Chair, Screaming at Kids, Stealing Snacks. Retrieved from http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2014/01/ohio_parents_lawsuit_accuses_t.html

2017. Abuse and Exploitation of People with Developmental Disabilities. Disability Justice. Retrieved from http://disabilityjustice.org/justice-denied/abuse-and-exploitation/

6 Sept 2016. Developmentally Disabled Adults Often Abused and Ignored. The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved from
http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2015/09/06/abused-and-ignored.html

2017. Disability Rights Ohio. Official Website. Retrieved from http://www.disabilityrightsohio.org/#who

2017. Hope Homes, Inc. Retrieved from
http://hopehomes.org

Armond, R. and Warsmith, S. 15 June 2017. Stow-based Hope Homes Goes Out of Business. The Akron Beacon Journal. Retrieved from http://www.ohio.com/news/local/stow-based-hope-homes-goes-out-of-business-1.774654

11 April 2017. Evant Laying Off Nearly 200 in Summit County. Crain’s, Cleveland Business. Retrieved from http://www.crainscleveland.com/article/20170411/NEWS/170419952/evant-laying-off-nearly-200-in-summit-county

Regan, R. 8 Nov 2013. Hundreds of Ohio Service Providers for the Disabled Repeatedly Ignore Health, Safety Regulations. News Channel Five, Cleveland. Retrieved from
http://www.news5cleveland.com/news/local-news/investigations/hundreds-of-ohio-service-providers-for-disabled-repeatedly-ignore-health-safety-regulations

Rae, CR. 9 Jan 2012. Man Charged in Lakemore Death. The Suburbanite. Retrieved from
http://www.thesuburbanite.com/x1312981590/Man-charged-in-Lakemore-death

Collins, K. 3 Feb 2017. State: West Liberty Group Home Members Injured, Got High With Kids. Springfield News-Sun. Retrieved from http://www.springfieldnewssun.com/news/crime–law/state-west-liberty-group-home-workers-injured-got-high-with-kids/sVpJeWV7A6Liopaq79TNwL/

Bondus, B. 28 Jan 2015. Adriel School Under State, County Investigation, Three Employees Facing Neglect Charges. Springfield News-Sun. Retrieved from
http://www.springfieldnewssun.com/news/crime–law/adriel-school-under-state-county-investigation/SdB37hPwS68B01xslFiohK/

13 Sept 2015. Ohio’s Developmentally Disabled Need More Protection From Abuse. Retrieved from
http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/09/ohios_developmentally_disabled.html

2017. Abuse of Children and Disabled People in Ohio. Slater & Zurz, LLP. Retrieved from https://abuseofdisabledpeople.com

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Comments

  1. Leoba Kolnes says:

    I had a son in a group home here in Detroit Lakes, MN. The company,s name is called Lakes Homes n Program Development. Lakes Homes did not do a background check on either one of these two males. So now my son is dead, thanks to Lakes Homes. The one that was on call said he went to the bathroom to check on my son but the door wouldn’t open, that’s because my son was laying on the floor dead, which he knew already because him and the other worker killed my son. And the cops were out there saying it was a suicide too. But I know better then that. The cops around here are as crooked as they come. The investigator was a joke too.

  2. I’m sorry for the loss of your son in an abusive group home there was a similar situation in a group home in hickory North Carolina where a 37 year old disabled man was molested it went on for 7 years did the staff do anything no they turned a deaf ear to the situation the employee who was in his sixties died of a heart attack before the trial began sheltered workshops aren’t safe either back in 1984 a severely retaded who had the mind of a child six years five months was sexually assaulted he took her to the first aid room what he did was so horrible to her he got forty years in prison she told someone what happened to her Harold teeter was one sick bastard he should have got the death penalty

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