Abuses at a Pueblo center for people with severe intellectual disabilities included a resident performing a sexual act in exchange for a soda and another burned with a blow dryer in an attempt to raise her body temperature, according to a federal report obtained by The Denver Post.
A group of men, some who are nonverbal, had words scratched into their skin, including “die,” “kill,” and “I’m back,” federal investigators found. When questioned, three staffers said they believed the markings were the result of “paranormal activity.” Staffers had posted photos of the etchings on social media, the report said.
The incidences of abuse at the Pueblo Regional Center — one of three centers in Colorado that are home to adults with developmental, physical and intellectual disabilities — occurred before November 2015. Yet federal investigators who visited the home in April found safety protocols still lacking. They notified Colorado Medicaid officials in an August letter that they were enacting a moratorium on new residents at the center and that Colorado must repay millions of dollars in Medicaid funding.
“These are some of our most vulnerable people in Colorado,” said Stephanie Garcia, executive director of The Arc in Pueblo, a nonprofit advocacy group for people with developmental disabilities. “To read some of the things going on, it’s shocking.
When all sorts of signs of serious abuse are discovered at a Pueblo, Colorado regional center for the severely intellectually disabled and 5% of the residents die from neglect, do the government employees who have total control over the facility take responsibility?
No. Of course, not. They blame the abuse on ghosts. Really, no kidding. Fortunately, this time, in 21st century Colorado, federal investigators did not buy this story.
I was in Pueblo for a trial and reading the local papers when this story broke originally, but many of the details were shrouded in secrecy at the time.