Governor Heineman calls it totally irresponsible, disgusting and inappropriate.
Heineman has reacted to an internal report that accuses 11 staff members of the Beatrice State Developmental Center of either abusing residents or allowing the abuse to take place.
“Given what’s occurred, absolutely those who committed these acts don’t deserve to be working for the state of Nebraska,” according to Heineman.
Heineman stops short of saying those accused should be fired. He says that will be left to Developmental Disabilities Director Jodi Fenner to decide. Five employees allegedly pushed, hit and choked residents of BSDC. Three are accused of failing to report the abuse. Three supervisors face disciplinary action, because the abuse occurred under their watch.
Heineman says the accusations do not undermine his faith in Fenner’s work within the Department of Health and Human Services. Heineman says Fenner has changed the culture at the center, even though these allegations have arisen.
“I’m disappointed. I’m frustrated. And I’m angry that any individual would act the way they have been accused of acting,” Heineman says. “It’s totally inappropriate, totally uncalled for. I can’t imagine any human being, let alone a Nebraskan, doing what occurred.”
The Nebraska State Patrol conducted a criminal investigation. Its investigation disclosed that the alleged abuse began in June, perhaps as early as April. Gage County Attorney Roger Harris has received a copy of the investigations and will decide whether to file criminal charges against the BSDC staffers.
Heineman says action will be taken if the allegations are proven.
“It was totally irresponsible. It’s disgusting and totally inappropriate,” Heineman says.
AUDIO: Gov. Heineman reacts to allegations of abuse at BSDC [5 min mp3]