Family suing state over alleged abuse at CVH - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Family suing state over alleged abuse at CVH

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A local family is suing the state after alleged abuse at a CVH facility (WFSB file photo) A local family is suing the state after alleged abuse at a CVH facility (WFSB file photo)

A mentally ill man, under state care was allegedly abused by the very people who were supposed to be watching him and taking care of him.

A number of workers at Whiting Forensic Division of Connecticut Valley Hospital were arrested, and now the victim’s family is filing a lawsuit.

The attorney, representing this 59-year-old man and his brother is filing two lawsuits, one against the state, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, also listing the commissioner and a number of supervisors at Whiting.

The other is in federal court, and goes after nurses and staff, many of whom are already facing criminal charges.

“Kicking his mattress on the floor, throwing food and liquid on him, forcing him to wear a diaper on his head,” said Attorney Antonio Ponvert.

Ponvert says that’s just some of the abuse Bill Shehadi has endured inside Whiting at Connecticut Valley Hospital, the place he’s called home since 1995.

Since the start of the state’s investigation, 10 Whiting staffers have been arrested, and 37 others were placed on administrative leave.

Whiting is a maximum security psychiatric hospital for patients who’ve committed serious crimes.

According to Ponvert, Shehadi, who suffers from mental illness, has two staffers with him at all times, with also 24-7 video monitoring of his room.

They say video from last February and March documents dozens of instances of abuse, but allege it goes back further.

“The same actors were there the whole time and I think that defies common sense to think that it just started in February of 2017,” Ponvert said.

Ponvert says that’s because Bill allegedly wrote letters to doctors back in ‘06 and ‘08 “I am thrown in the blue room and beaten up in the bathroom...please help me as I am constantly picked on”

“He says I need my sitters, because I’m so lonely, but I’m tired of being abused and I’m tired of being humiliated,” Ponvert said.

In response to the abuse allegations, CVH said it started implementing a number of changes, including overhauling the management team, adding cameras, and also re-training staff.  

The family says more must be done.

“The fact that it happened, under these conditions, tells me there is something dreadfully wrong with how things are done at this hospital and that’s the point of this case, let’s figure out what went wrong, let’s figure out how to fix it and let’s get a court to order that,” Ponvert said.

Channel 3 reached out to the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services who they referred us to the Attorney General’s office, which said they are reviewing the filings and would not comment further.

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