De­tails of al­leged pa­tient abuse emerge

War­rants: 9 max se­cu­rity work­ers re­peat­edly at­tacked man

The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT) - - FRONT PAGE - By Cas­san­dra Day

MIDDLETOWN — Video footage of the nine Con­necti­cut Val­ley Hos­pi­tal work­ers who were ar­rested last month for cru­elty to per­sons shows a sus­tained pat­tern of at­tacks and provo­ca­tions of a sin­gle pa­tient in­car­cer­ated at the maximum se­cu­rity fa­cil­ity, ac­cord­ing to court records.

An of­fi­cial from CVH’s Whit­ing Foren­sics Di­vi­sion con­tacted the state Depart­ment of Men­tal Health and Ad­dic­tion Ser­vices po­lice March 21 to re­port an ac­cu­sa­tion of pa­tient abuse, the ar­rest war­rant af­fi­davits said.

Fol­low­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the Con­necti­cut State Po­lice Ma­jor Crime Squad and DMHAS po­lice ar­rested nine men Sept. 6:

Mark Cus­son, 49, of Har­ness Drive, Southing­ton, is charged with eight counts each of cru­elty to per­sons and dis­or­derly con­duct.

Seth Quider, 34, of Mid­dle­sex Drive, En­field; and Carl Ben­jamin, 39, of Town Walk Road, Hamden, are both charged with six counts each of cru­elty to per­sons and dis­or­derly con­duct.

Clay­ton Davis, 48, of Green­field Street, Hart­ford; Robert Larned, 45, of Village Lane, He­bron; and Lance Camby, 48, of Prospect Street, New Bri­tain, are all charged with five counts each of cru­elty to per­sons and dis­or­derly con­duct.

Gre­gory Gianto­nio, 43, of Rat­tling Val­ley Road, Deep River; is charged with three counts each of cru­elty to per­sons and dis­or­derly con­duct.

Bruce Holt, 39, of Lake Road, Columbia, and Willie Bethea, 45, of Robin Court, Middletown, are both charged with two counts each of cru­elty to per­sons and dis­or­derly con­duct.

The du­ties of the CVH em­ploy­ees, all foren­sic treat­ment spe­cial­ists, in­clude ther­a­peu­tic in­ter­ven­tion, mon­i­tor­ing and sup­port­ing pa­tients’ rights and em­pow­er­ment, and re­spect­ing their cul­tural iden­tity and needs, ac­cord­ing to the war­rant af­fi­davit.

Au­thor­i­ties ex­am­ined video footage from Feb. 27 to March 22 taken from inside the pa­tient’s room and the hall­way out­side. Any in­ci­dents that may have oc­curred prior to that pe­riod are not avail­able, the war­rant said, be­cause CVH video records space is lim­ited.

At the time the war­rants were signed on Aug. 31, 31 DHMAS em­ploy­ees were on paid sus­pen­sion for al­leged pol­icy vi­o­la­tions or ac­cu­sa­tions of crim­i­nal acts, po­lice said.

The pa­tient’s dis­abil­i­ties of­ten pre­vent him from be­ing com­mu­nica­tive and hin­der his abil­ity to process facts and re­late ex­pe­ri­ences, ac­cord­ing to the re­port. No or­ders al­lowed the ac­cused to make the type of phys­i­cal con­tact they did to­ward the vic­tim, ac­cord­ing to in­ves­ti­ga­tors. Among the ac­cu­sa­tions: Bethea re­port­edly en­tered the man's room Feb. 27 and started pok­ing him. Twice, Bethea al­legedly “made con­tact with the pa­tient’s head with enough force for his head to move back­ward,” ac­cord­ing to the war­rant.

On March 1, Quider is ac­cused of kick­ing the man sev­eral times un­til he sent him off the bed and, three days later, kick­ing the man from his lower body up to his head and chest. Po­lice say he “draped his legs over the pa­tient’s chest and head, and his lower limbs are seen thrash­ing un­der the sheet un­til he moved.” An­other FTS was present, in­ves­ti­ga­tors said.

On March 3 at 3:45 a.m., Ben­jamin al­legedly walked into the man’s room and kicked him mul­ti­ple times while Davis and Gianto­nio were present, the war­rant said. That same day, Cus­son al­legedly strad­dled the pa­tient and made lewd move­ments to­ward him with his groin and but­tocks.

On March 4, Ben­jamin al­legedly kicked the vic­tim out of bed with an­other FTS in the room. Two hours later, he re­turned and kicked the man again, this time with an­other FTS and Quider present, in­ves­ti­ga­tors say. Later, court doc­u­ments say, Ben­jamin kicked the man’s mat­tress off the frame with an­other FTS in the room.

On March 6, the abuse con­tin­ued with Cus­son kick­ing the man, the war­rant said. Po­lice said it ap­pears Cus­son wrapped his legs around the man’s head and forced him onto the bed as Ben­jamin and he pinned the pa­tient down. Sim­i­lar in­stances took place March 7, 9 and 16, with other em­ploy­ees, in­clud­ing Gianto­nio, doc­u­ments said.

On March 8, Camby kicked the man while he was in bed as Larned was in the room, and March 10, Camby threw liq­uid on the pa­tient with two other FTS in the room, de­tec­tives said.

On March 21, Camby and Larned al­legedly re­strained the vic­tim while a nurse put a di­a­per/un­der­wear over the man’s pants. While try­ing to re-dress the pa­tient, Camby put the di­a­per/un­der­wear over the man’s head as he and Larned re­strained him, ac­cord­ing to doc­u­ments pre­sented in court.

On March 11, Davis is ac­cused of wrap­ping a towel around the vic­tim’s head, then re­leas­ing it with an­other FTS in the room, po­lice said.

On March 15, Holt al­legeldy kicked the pa­tient twice while he was on his bed as Cus­son was in the room, the war­rant al­leged, and on March 17, sim­i­lar in­ci­dents took place with Bethea in the room.

On March 17, Cus­son kicked the man off his bed, knock­ing the mat­tress off its frame, poured liq­uid on the pa­tient’s head, pulled his sheets out from un­der him and used them to wipe the floor, de­tec­tives al­lege. Cus­son re­turned and mopped the vic­tim’s head sev­eral times, wrung the mop out and re­peated the ac­tion a num­ber of times as oth­ers were present, ac­cord­ing to the war­rant.

On May 5, Bethea was in­ter­viewed by de­tec­tives and told po­lice “he never en­gaged in any type of ac­tiv­ity that could be con­sid­ered a blow,” po­lice said. Bethea al­legedly told of­fi­cers the pa­tient “is a very ex­cep­tional case and is very dif­fi­cult to de­scribe and do­ing so” would be a HIPPA vi­o­la­tion.

Bethea told them staff “have never found or de­vel­oped any non­phys­i­cal in­ter­ven­tions that have been suc­cess­ful in man­ag­ing this pa­tient's be­hav­ior,” ac­cord­ing to the war­rant. Po­lice said Bethea told them the vic­tim “en­joys a de­gree of play­ful phys­i­cal con­tact,” that he was guilty of horse­play, but never hurt the pa­tient.

Holt, Larned and Davis are free on $25,000 bonds and will re­turn to state Su­pe­rior Court in Middletown Oct. 17. Cus­son and Camby each were re­leased on $75,000 bonds and as­signed an Oct. 17 court date.

Bethea, who is free on a $25,000 bond, will re­turn to court Oct. 24. Ben­jamin, re­leased on a $75,000 bond, is due back Oct 24. Quider, free on a $75,000 bond, was is­sued a Nov. 14 court date. Gianto­nio, who is free on a $75,000 bond, is due back Nov. 21.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion is on­go­ing and ad­di­tional ar­rests are an­tic­i­pated, po­lice said last month.

Cloe Pois­son / As­so­ci­ated Press

Mark Cus­son, right, stands be­fore a judge dur­ing his ar­raign­ment on pa­tient abuse charges at state Su­pe­rior Court in Middletown on Sept. 7. Cus­son and seven other work­ers from Whit­ing Foren­sic at Con­necti­cut Val­ley Hos­pi­tal were ar­raigned on abuse charges. Cus­son is charged with eight counts of cru­elty to per­sons and eight counts of dis­or­derly con­duct. His at­tor­ney. Brian J. Woolf, is at left.

Whit­ing Foren­sic is a di­vi­sion of Con­necti­cut Val­ley Hos­pi­tal on O’Brien Drive in Middletown.

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