Details of alleged patient abuse emerge
Warrants: 9 max security workers repeatedly attacked man
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.
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...
Whiting Forensic is a division of Connecticut Valley Hospital on O’Brien Drive in Middletown.