CHICAGO (CBS 2) – Swift action is being taken after a CBS 2 investigation revealed years of abuse at a group home was not stopped until a Joliet man was murdered. CBS 2’s Dave Savini has the new effort to create legislation that would protect the people who can not protect themselves.
State Representative Greg Harris was shocked by what our 2-Investigator’s uncovered — two men beaten to death and 33 substantiated abuse complaints at a group home for people with disabilities.
“I’m glad that you got our attention because this is a terrible, terrible thing,” said Greg Harris, state representative from the 13th District. “The state should’ve detected that pattern and acted immediately.”
Harris chairs the Human Services Committee and he says The Illinois Department of Human Services dropped the ball and failed to protect residents. The lawmaker is now planning on creating legislation that removes discretion from regulators and empowers residents and their families with information about abuse and facility inspections.
This proposed state action is welcome news to Lois McCann. In January, her son Paul McCann was brutally beaten inside a group home owned by Graywood Foundation.
“I’m so thrilled that something is going to come of this terrible thing that happened to my son,” said McCann about the death of her son.
Staff members were charged in his murder. They allegedly beat McCann because he took a cookie. Three years earlier, another resident, Dustin Higgins was murdered at the Graywood facility. He also suffered at the hands of staff.
“I’ll never ever get over this,” said an emotional McCann.
She is angry that state regulators never told her about Graywood’s abuse complaint history. She wants those records easily accessible for residents and their families.
It’s way past due,” said McCann. “Way past time.”
Representative Harris agrees and will be pushing for legislation that will guarantee easy access to those records. He also wants to create automatic triggers. When there is a defined pattern of abuse, the trigger would force state regulators to take action, shut a place down and place residents in protective custody.
“The fact that we don’t have a mechanism in place to automatically deal with clearly abusive environments like this, just made me furious,” said Harris. “And we need to address this right away.”
Harris also would like all group homes audited to determine if others have high numbers of abuse cases.
“That’s my hope, Pauly did not die in vain,” said McCann.
Graywood Foundation owner, Augustine Oruwari, has not returned our calls.
The Illinois Department of Human Services revoked Graywood’s multi-million-dollar contract and is in the process of shutting down its facilities.