State prosecutors will not file charges against a 31-year-old profoundly disabled Clay County group home resident who repeatedly attacked other residents and staff members or prosecute managers who failed to control or immediately remove the offending resident.
The Clay County Sheriff’s Office investigated the 2015 attacks at the BASCA group home for four months. The resulting file was reviewed by the State Attorney’s Office for six weeks, according to a Sheriff’s Office report.
“They deemed no criminal law violation occurred, stating it was all a civil matter,” according to the report.
The investigation stemmed from complaints of abuse in the group home and the report quoted multiple witnesses to the attacks. But BASCA attorney Steven Scott said Thursday the state attorney’s decision confirmed what they already contended about the allegations.
The attacks have already led to management changes at the 20-year-old nonprofit, which runs four group homes and other programs for intellectually and developmentally disabled people.
Under a settlement agreement with the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, BASCA founder and Executive Director John Cone was ordered to relinquish direct management responsibility. According to the Sheriff’s Office report, staffers said Cone told them to call him about attacks, not the state or 911, and that incident reports were altered or not filed at all. Cone denied those accounts.
The settlement also mandated additional training for BASCA staffers, including “zero tolerance training on abuse, neglect and exploitation” and incident-reporting requirements.
On Aug. 5 the state had issued an emergency closure order for the group home where the attacks occurred. At the same time, the state launched a 90-day process to terminate BASCA’s Medicaid waiver, which allows providers to be reimbursed by Medicaid for their services.
The settlement lifted the emergency closure order and the Medicaid waiver termination process. The aggressive resident was relocated.
Scott said at the time the nonprofit and its employees admitted no wrongdoing but will be making structural changes.
BASCA was founded in 1994 as Baptist Association for Special Children and Adults and now goes by the acronym.
Beth Reese Cravey: (904) 359-4109