Man su­ing liv­ing cen­ter af­ter 2008 at­tack on son

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO & STATE - By Corrie MacLag­gan AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN STAFF

The fa­ther of a dis­abled man is su­ing the Austin State Sup­ported Liv­ing Cen­ter two years af­ter his son was vi­o­lently sex­u­ally as­saulted in a com­mu­nity shower at the in­sti­tu­tion, ac­cord­ing to the law­suit.

The son, a res­i­dent of the fa­cil­ity for peo­ple with mental dis­abil­i­ties, has autism, epilepsy and hear­ing im­pair­ment and is un­able to speak, the law­suit says. Be­cause of those con­di­tions, he was sup­posed to have a staff mem­ber in his im­me­di­ate pres­ence 24 hours a day, the suit says.

But on July 19, 2008, the then-23-year-old was left unat­tended, and a fel­low res­i­dent of the fa­cil­ity rammed a blunt ob­ject, be­lieved to be a toi­let plunger, into his rec­tum, the court doc­u­ment says.

“He was found by the staff ly­ing on the floor, bleed­ing heav­ily, with his in­sides (in­testines; bow­els) hang­ing be­low his knees,” says the law­suit, filed last week in state District Court in Travis County.

He was rushed to the hos­pi­tal with in­ter­nal in­juries, the suit says.

The law­suit al­leges that staff mem­bers “egre­giously breached their duty of su­per­vi­sion.”

Con­tin­ued from B

“He was never to be left unat­tended or alone, let alone in the im­me­di­ate pres­ence of a known, men­tally ill, and vi­o­lent as­sailant, un­guarded, un­pro­tected, and vul­ner­a­ble,” the law­suit says.

Al­li­son Low­ery, a spokes­woman for the Depart­ment of Ag­ing and Dis­abil­ity Ser­vices, de­clined to com­ment on the case be­cause it in­volves pend­ing lit­i­ga­tion.

No one has been charged in the case, which is un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion, said Austin po­lice spokes­woman Veneza Aguiñaga.

The ac­cused as­sailant is named as a de­fen­dant in the suit, as are the state agen­cies that over­see the liv­ing cen­ter.

The Amer­i­can-States­man has a pol­icy against nam­ing vic­tims of sex­ual as­sault, and the news­pa­per is not nam­ing the sus­pect be­cause he has mental dis­abil­i­ties and has not been charged.

Texas’ 13 liv­ing cen­ters are un­der scru­tiny from the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice, which in 2008 re­ported that they fail to pro­tect res­i­dents from harm. In­de­pen­dent mon­i­tors are sur­vey­ing the fa­cil­i­ties as part of a 2009 set­tle­ment be­tween Texas and the Jus­tice Depart­ment.

The vic­tim is still at the liv­ing cen­ter be­cause his fam­ily can­not af­ford to move him else­where, said Stephen Schaefer, a lawyer rep­re­sent­ing the vic­tim and his fa­ther.

“He is still hav­ing a rough time,” Schaefer said. “He has been greatly af­fected by this tragedy.”

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