(March 12, 2009)--As authorities in Corpus Christi prepared to arrest six state school workers accused of staging fights between mentally disabled residents, an advocacy group says a similar fight occurred between residents of the Mexia State School.
Attorney Beth Mitchell, who is with Advocacy Inc., a non-profit group with federal authority to monitor abuse and neglect at the facilities, cited two incidents investigated and confirmed by Texas Adult Protective Services in the past year in which staffers in Mexia and San Angelo instigated residents to beat up others.
Meanwhile warrants were issued Thursday for six employees of the Corpus Christi State School over an alleged “fight club” in which employees are accused of organizing fights between state school residents for the staff’s entertainment.
Corpus Christi police recovered a cell phone with videos of the fights.
All six workers from Corpus Christi are charged with injury to a disabled person.
Meanwhile Thursday in Austin, the head of the agency, Commissioner Addie Horn, broke into tears as lawmakers grilled her about the alleged abuse at a state facility in Corpus Christi.
Horn vowed to combat future abuses "with every fiber in my body."
Horn faced a skeptical crowd of lawmakers when she laid out plans to buy surveillance cameras, add security guards on all shifts for the first time and study additional measures such as increased lighting and uniforms for state workers.
"These were deplorable, despicable, criminal actions that should not be tolerated, that are unacceptable," said Rep. Abel Herrero, D-Corpus Christi.
Herrero put Horn on the hot seat during a legislative hearing that explored the alleged abuse.
Herrero said it was "disingenuous" for her to claim she was reacting quickly to end the abuse.
Herrero said he had been calling on the department since the summer of 2007 to install security cameras, an action the agency is only now undertaking.
Horn said she couldn't do it sooner because federal authorities had not given their approval.
Otherwise, the commissioner said she had done all she thought possible but felt terrible about what had happened.