- Associated Press - Thursday, July 23, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A teenager accused in a brutal assault on a state psychiatric hospital staff member was placed in the adult institution in possible violation of a federal court order governing such decisions, according to a newspaper report Thursday.

The 16-year-old, whose identity is protected in court records, may have been ineligible to be put in the secure St. Peter hospital under a 2011 legal settlement, which was crafted to keep patients solely with developmental disabilities out of settings meant for violent or severely mentally ill patients, the Star Tribune reported (https://strib.mn/1foNMg2 ).

Court records show the teen with a deeply troubled childhood was transferred in May from a juvenile detention center in Pine County to the Minnesota Security Hospital, where he allegedly assaulted a female security counselor so severely this month that she was hospitalized with head injuries.

The Department of Human Services wouldn’t discuss his specific case, citing privacy reasons, but acknowledged gaps in the system for treating young adults with development disabilities and aggressive behavior.

“We are looking at ways to address these gaps so individuals can be placed in the setting most appropriate to their needs,” the agency said in a written statement.



It’s rare for a juvenile to be placed in the St. Peter facility, which houses the state’s largest psychiatric hospital. Currently, there are just two juveniles and only nine patients with solely a developmental disability.

Records show the boy was born with fetal alcohol syndrome, and suffered severe head injuries as a baby. The state agency put him at St. Peter by requesting a variance from state rules, which it approved on its own according to a document obtained by the newspaper.

“It’s the wrong setting and the state knows it,” said Shamus O’Meara, a Minneapolis attorney who represented people with developmental disabilities and their families in the 2011 legal settlement. “They allowed a 16-year-old child with a developmental disability to go into a hostile place with a criminal population, and now you see the result - disaster.”

U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank, who is overseeing implementation of the settlement, has ordered the state to submit a plan for transferring the teen from the security hospital, where he remains, by July 31.

Records show that in 2012 the teen gave a staff member at one facility a concussion. After being moved to another treatment center, he was charged with assault for hitting a teacher in the face. In September 2014, he was charged with two felonies after for groping and punching a female staff member in a child behavior hospital in Willmar, and was moved to St. Peter after kicking a staff member until she lost consciousness.

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Information from: Star Tribune, https://www.startribune.com

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