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Thursday, June 13, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Disabilities Center Accused of Litany of Abuse

LAS VEGAS (CN) - Staff members of Nevada's Desert Regional Center for disabled children, "beat," "bludgeon," punch and kick kids and force them to fight for staffers' amusement, parents of three claim in court.

Defendant Desert Regional Center, in Las Vegas, is a division of the Nevada Department of Human Services.

Peter and Deborah Bleul say their son, Jakob, suffers from "substantial retardation, autism and bipolar disorder" and involuntarily was committed to the center in 2011.

Almost immediately, the Bleuls say, the center's staff abused Jakob, subjecting him to "being punched and kicked; being forced to fight other DRC residents for the amusement of DRC staff" and "being falsely accused of violence" against other residents "resulting in his incarceration."

The Bleuls say the center's staff also punished Jakob for reporting his abuse and the abuse of others.

Patsy Hicks says her son, Miquel, suffered a traumatic brain injury during a car accident and involuntarily was committed to the DRC, where he has "endured a litany of abuses at the hands of DRC staffers." This includes "being beaten in the head, being kicked out of group homes with no way to get home and having his medication withheld."

"In one particularly egregious instance of abuse, DRC staffer Harry Daniels bludgeoned Miquel with a three-hole punch. Following this attack, Miquel was denied outside medical attention for several hours and was later hospitalized for his injuries," his mother says.

Hicks too says her son was punished for reporting his abuse and the abuse of others.

Oscar Morales suffers from severe autism and was involuntarily committed to the center in 2011. His father, Oscar Morales Carrillo, says DRC staff subjected his son to "being beaten in the head; being punched and kicked; being forced to fight other DRC residents for the amusement of DRC staff; having his head slammed into the floor, resulting in broken teeth; having his finger broken; and being overdosed with medically inappropriate medication" that could have killed him.

Morales says his son was punished for reporting his abuse and the abuse of others. He says his son was moved to another facility in Houston in 2013 and has not had any problems since leaving the Las Vegas center.

Congresswoman Dina Titus asked the state to investigate the center in April 2013, according to Las Vegas KLAS-TV 8, a CBS station.

Titus could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The DRC did not respond to a request for comment.

The Nevada Department. of Health and Human Services said in November 2013 that it would put video cameras in the Desert Regional Center to "help correct bad behaviors" and abuse and neglect.

The parents seek punitive damages for civil rights violations, negligence, negligent training and supervision, assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, reckless endangerment, and abuse of vulnerable persons.

Named as defendants are director of Nevada Department of Health & Human Services Romaine Gilliland, the State of Nevada, the Desert Regional Center and its staff members Matthew Stoll, Kyle Toomer and Harry Daniels.

The families are represented by Sean D. Lyttle.

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