Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Lawsuit: University of Minnesota - Fairview Hospital Failed to Protect a Mentally Ill, Disabled Girl from Sexual Assault in Her Room -- Twice in Less than an Hour

KSTP News has reported yet another jaw-dropping scandal from the Fairview psychiatry ward.

A Twin Cities hospital with a history of security breakdowns failed to protect a teenage girl with developmental disabilities from being sexually assaulted twice by an adult patient, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Hennepin County.

The 15-year-old girl was rushed to the emergency room at the University of Minnesota Medical Center-Fairview for a mental health crisis on Nov. 8 last year.

She was admitted for observation and monitoring but remained in the hospital’s emergency department “because there were a lack of available beds in the pediatric psychiatric unit,” according to the suit.

Across the hall from the girl’s room, Jamal Strong was also being treated for a mental health crisis. The 29-year-old entered the girl’s room early in the morning on Nov. 9 and sexually assaulted her, according to a criminal complaint filed in Hennepin County.

In itself, that incident is horrendous. But what makes it truly astonishing is the fact that, according to the lawsuit, Fairview staff let the same thing happen again almost immediately.

Strong assaulted the girl for approximately 15 minutes before he was found by hospital staff and removed from the room, according to the lawsuit.

The suit stated the girl was sexually assaulted again when “incredibly, Strong was able to reenter (the victim’s) room only five minutes later.”

Jeffrey Storms, the attorney who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the girl’s family, said the hospital’s surveillance video shows Strong remained in the room undetected for another 27 minutes.

This is hardly the first such incident. According to KSTP: "In April 2015, a patient suffering heroin withdrawals and hallucinations entered another patient’s room, crawled into bed and assaulted her." Only three weeks ago, KSTP reported that a mentally ill 13 year-old had run away from the psychiatry ward and was later found nearly a mile away on the Franklin Avenue bridge.  Fairview administrators had not even called the police to report the child missing. (Fairview calls these episodes "elopement incidents," which apparently sounds better than "escapes.")

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