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Sunday, May 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Torture Alleged at Home for Handicapped

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CN) - Staff members at the Marshall Habilitation Center - a state center for retarded people - beat, insulted and tortured patients, forced them to fight one another and used electric cattle prods on them, including shocks to the testicles, one patient's guardian claims in Federal Court.

The guardian, Thomas McAndrew, claims "Development Assistants" John Daniel McQuerry and Aaron C. Petty led the abuse. He also sued Development Assistant Abram T. Butler and the three men's alleged supervisors, Judith Clark and Patricia Orr, whose titles are or were "Habilitation Specialist II."

McAndrew claims the abuses were inflicted as a way to control patients.

"Defendants McQuerry and Petty were the most active abusers, though other defendants all participated in abuse of the patients voluntarily," according to the complaint. "Defendants Clark, Orr and Butler failed to take action to stop or report the physical or emotional abuse of patients."

The abuses allegedly happened in 2004. At the time, McAndrew says, all the defendants were employed by the State of Missouri Department of Mental Health, Division of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. He sued all of them as individuals.

He claims the defendants subjected patients to other abuses as well, including forced cold showers, striking them with objects, ordering patients to beat up other patients, forcing them to do pushups and situps, and calling them "retard" and racial epithets.

He claims Petty admitted, during an investigation by the state Highway Patrol, that he used a cattle prod to control patients, and that Petty said he had seen McQuerry use a cattle prod on them too. He claims Butler failed to cooperate with the investigation and was "dismissed" from his job. And he claims that the Marshall Habilitation Center failed to offer counseling "or any other form of treatment" after the torture allegations surfaced.

Plaintiffs are represented by Christopher Slusher of Columbia, Mo.

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