State Lawmakers Seek To Prevent Abuse In Group Homes
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS/WBBM) – State lawmakers want to make sure atrocities such as those documented at a group home in downstate Charleston never happen again.
As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Alex Degman reports, it was an emotional scene in the House Human Services Committee, as Kathy Slovick, whose brother, Paul McCann, was beaten to death at a home for the developmentally disabled in January.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Alex Degman reports
CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini reported last month that McCann, 42, who functioned at the level of a 6-year-old, was punched, kicked, and struck with a frying pan inside his group home for reportedly taking a cookie.
“The surgeon on duty explained before he died that his beating was consistent with having been kicked repeatedly in a fetal position. Thirteen of his ribs were broken. He was covered with bruises from his collarbone to his ankles,” Slovick told the Human Services Committee.
McCann’s mother, Lois McCann, took care of her son as long as she could in her Joliet home. Then she put her trust in the Graywood Foundation, a state-licensed group home in downstate Charleston. Two staff members from the facility have been charged in the brutal beating that led to his death.
McCann was not the only victim at Graywood Foundation. State records obtained by CBS 2, which date back to 2003, reveal 33 cases of Graywood staff abusing residents. Those cases included sexual abuse, physical battery and alleged coercion of residents to attack each other.
Even worse, in 2008, a resident named Dustin Higgins was murdered by staff. That death prompted an internal memo from the Illinois Department of Human Services Inspector General. The memo warned that Graywood residents were at risk amid an increase of serious allegations of abuse and neglect.
But state records revealed regulators knew Graywood’s substantiated abuse rate was double the state average, yet the state Department of Human Services failed to close it down.
The incident inspired legislation that would require the Department of Human Services to review possible license and funding revocation for group homes where disproportionate cases of abuse or neglect occur.
The legislation would also require independent monitoring where systemic risk of abuse and neglect is suspected.
A state lawmaker also called for a criminal investigation into Graywood.