Former Greene Valley employee weighs options ahead of abuse trial

GREENE COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – A former Greene Valley Developmental Center employee, awaiting trial on an abuse charge, appeared in court Wednesday in Greene County.

Grand jurors previously indicted Alysia Ann Prater following our Community Watchdog investigation into the handling of past substantiated abuse cases at the state-run facility for people with intellectual disabilities.

While in court Wednesday, Prater’s attorney said they need more time to decide on how to proceed in the case and said they will make a decision by the end of next week.

If both sides cannot agree on a plea deal, the case will go to trial on Jan. 18.

The trial was previously set for Jan. 9.

“We’ve been talking to the witnesses. We need a little more time to take a look at this additional paperwork that we were given today, try to make a decision if we can come to some type of agreement,” defense attorney Tom Jessee said. “The discovery was some additional documents that we had just gotten this morning that I wanted more time to look at, so that we could evaluate their importance and advise our client accordingly.”

Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities records show Prater reportedly hit a middle-aged woman, who suffered from bipolar disorder and couldn’t talk, in the face with a shoe in December 2014.

According to state records, witnesses said Prater used harsh language before she hit the woman 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.”

Prater denied the allegations and later resigned, according to state records.

DIDD alerted police about the case. A Tusculum police officer investigated at the time, but the chief said prosecutors never pursued criminal charges because the woman lost her job.

Current District Attorney Dan Armstrong previously said his office had no record of that conversation. He reopened the case in response to our Community Watchdog investigation.

Jessee previously told us Prater is “a very good, hard-working young lady and I hope we can get this resolved.” She faces a felony charge of abuse of a dependent adult. Prater pleaded not guilty to that charge in May.

Copyright WJHL 2017. All rights reserved.

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