Five former state employees charged with beating patient - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Five former state employees charged with beating patient


Five former psychiatric technicians have been indicted for assault of a patient in their care at the Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute.

The former state employees were indicted for assault and official oppression, which in this case refers to the fact that a patient was beaten while in their care.

The Channel 4 I-Team first reported in July 2013 that the five employees were being investigated by the TBI for the beating of Matthew McDougal, who was brought to MTMHI for a competency evaluation in 2013.

According to the employees' termination records obtained by the Channel 4 I-Team, video shows the employees taking McDougal into a seclusion room and physically and emotionally abusing him.

"He was kicked in the face, hit in the chest multiple times. That's just horrendous to do to anybody," said TBI spokeswoman Illana Tate.

McDougal's mother sent the Channel 4 I-Team a statement, reading in part: "What happened to Matt during his stay there was horrific. These men could have killed him. Sadly, sometimes, it takes a crisis to bring about needed changes. I hope that the state makes necessary changes to make this their last crisis involving patient safety."

McDougal's injuries come a year-and-a-half after the Channel 4 I-Team started exposing problems in the mental health institute, including a patient's death, mistreatment by staff, a patient's escape, a murder within the institute and photos of employees sleeping instead of caring for patients.

"I can't lend any speculation as to why this [McDougal's beating] happened. The investigation is still underway. There are still a lot of things to follow up on," Tate said.

The TBI may be following up on the alleged beating of another patient, one month before McDougal's beating.

In the termination records, the state writes that in April 2013, three of the five former employees moved another patient into the seclusion room and engaged in physical and emotional abuse.

That's an almost exact description of what happened to McDougal.

Michael Rabkin, spokesman for the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, sent the Channel 4 I-Team a statement, reading in part: "The incident that led to the charges against the employees of Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute was inexcusable. When this incident occurred, staff at MTMHI and within the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services acted quickly to care for the patient in question."

McDougal's mother said her son is recovering.

No information on the other patient who was allegedly beaten has been released.

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