13 of 37 Workers Suspended In Whiting Patient-Abuse Scandal Won't Be Returning To Their Jobs

Thirteen of the 37 workers suspended in the patient-abuse scandal at Whiting Forensic Hospital have either been fired or have resigned or retired so far, officials confirmed Wednesday.

Included in the 13 are all 10 of the workers charged with felony cruelty counts arising from the prolonged physical abuse of patient William Shehadi. The abuse was captured on a surveillance camera in Shehadi’s room at the maximum-security Whiting psychiatric division, part of Connecticut Valley Hospital in Middletown. Most of the patients there, including Shehadi, had been acquitted of crimes by reason of insanity.

As the cruelty cases wind through Superior Court, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services is conducting its own internal investigation — an inquiry that will determine whether any of the suspended workers will be allowed to return.

“The human resources investigation is ongoing … It’s a tedious process. We do anticipate more discipline,” said Diana Lejardi, a spokeswoman for the mental health department.

Some of the separated workers opted on their own to resign or retire.

Many of the workers were earning tens of thousands of dollars in overtime.

This was the largest group of state mental health workers to ever be placed on administrative leave at one time.

Concerned about what is being described as a culture of abuse at Whiting, Sen. Heather Somers, R-Groton, and the rest of the legislature’s public health committee held a hearing on Nov. 13 in which the abused patient’s brother excoriated mental health officials for failing to intervene.

Officials admitted that they did not monitor the surveillance tape — which had captured hour after hour of abuse.

A separate state investigation determined that as many as 48 Whiting workers had varying roles in the abuse, including those who simply witnessed it, but failed in their obligation as mandated reporters.

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