GREENE COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – Multiple witnesses told Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities internal investigators they watched two former Greene Valley Developmental Center employees lay hands on two residents in 2014.
Greene County Sheriff Pat Hankins says his department is treating the two criminal investigations into those two substantiated abuse cases like any other normal investigation.
The district attorney asked the sheriff’s office to open the criminal investigations after our Community Watchdog investigation raised questions about the previous handling of abuse and neglect cases at GVDC.
DIDD internal investigators originally substantiated abuse in both cases and alerted police. Records reveal one employee hit a resident in the face with a shoe and another shoved, dragged and slapped another resident.
According to the sheriff, his investigators have reviewed past witness statements and initiated new interviews.
“It is a normal investigation,” Sheriff Hankins said. “This is an ongoing investigation and until it goes to court I can’t comment any further.”
Although the sheriff cannot release any new details, we’ve since obtained the witness statements from the original internal investigations.
According to DIDD records, both cases involved middle-aged women suffering from bi-polar disorder and other health issues. Neither woman could communicate verbally, according to the full internal investigation files.
According to state records, witnesses said a co-worker used harsh language in December 2014 before she hit a resident in the face with a shoe inside a GVDC cottage. According to the internal investigation, the act left a noticeable mark on the woman’s face.
“(The employee) hit (the resident) hard enough that (the resident’s) head went backward,” one witness told internal investigators.
Another witness said the reported abuse followed the resident failing to put on her shoes.
“(The employee) grabbed the shoe from (the resident) and hit (the woman) with ‘great force’ with the shoe,” the witness said. “(The employee) drew her right arm back with the shoe and struck (the resident) on the right of (the person’s) face near (her) nose…she heard a ‘loud smacking noise’ when the shoe made contact with the (resident’s) face.”
The worker denied the allegations and later resigned, according to state records. A Tusculum police officer investigated, but that criminal investigation never resulted in charges.
“Interviewing the person who had supposedly done it, she stated that she did not,” Tusculum Police Chief Danny Greene said. “I think (our officer) approached the district attorney’s office about it and they had chosen not to prosecute it, because she had been terminated.”
Third Judicial District Attorney General Dan Armstrong previously told us his office has no record of that kind of conversation.
Meanwhile, Chief Greene originally did not recall the specifics of the second abuse case, which involved the reported shoving, dragging and slapping of a resident.
“I don’t ever remember having a conversation to that extent, so maybe it got started but wasn’t explained that way,” he previously told us.
The chief previously apologized for not following up on that November 2014 case.
“That’s on me, that one’s on me,” he said.
Records reveal the reported abuse took placed in another GVDC cottage. According to the file, internal investigators interviewed several witnesses.
One said an employee “slammed” the resident against the wall, “kneed” her in the rear end, stood on top of her feet and pulled her wrists to stand, then dragged the woman by her ankles “six feet across the floor” to the toilet before finally smacking her on the bottom so hard you could hear it.
Other witnesses corroborated some of those allegations.
The employee, later fired by the state, told internal investigators she never used enough force to hurt the woman and only used appropriate techniques to get the woman to stand and get her into the bathroom.
However, she did admit telling the woman, “If you want to act like a baby then I will treat you like one.”
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