A state agency and a company it hired to care for disabled adults must do more to prevent abuse, S.C. Inspector General Patrick Maley said Thursday.
Maley said he reviewed 170 allegations of abuse, neglect and exploitation against the company, South Carolina Mentor. Five of the allegations led to criminal charges for pepper-spraying victims, and physically and verbally abusing them, including threatening to use of a taser.
The residential-care provider has a $17 million contract this year with S.C. Department of Disabilities and Special Needs to provide care and training for about 200 disabled adults.
A review of allegations from July 2013 through March did not find a pattern of abuse toward the adults in Mentor’s care. But the cases that resulted in criminal charges against company staffers did raise concerns, Maley said.
Three percent of the 170 allegations resulted in criminal charges – a rate six times greater than at similar providers, Maley said. In response, he called for the company to better train its employees and for Disabilities and Special Needs to provide more oversight.
Maley’s report also said it took too long to resolve abuse investigations. Disabilities and Special Needs must do more to ensure cases are being investigated in a timely manner, he added.