6 more arrested in abuse probe at psychiatric hospital

Six more staff members at a maximum-security psychiatric hospital have been arrested in connection with the repeated abuse of a patient, making it a total of nine workers charged with cruelty to persons and disorderly conduct, Connecticut State Police said.

Authorities on Tuesday night announced the new arrests of workers at the Whiting Forensic Division of Connecticut Valley Hospital in Middletown. The facility is the state's only maximum-security hospital for the criminally insane.

The arrests followed the suspensions of 31 employees earlier this year in connection with the abuse of a 62-year-old male patient. Authorities said abusive incidents were recorded by surveillance cameras.

State police say more arrests are expected.

The state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, which runs the hospital, called the nature of the allegations "reprehensible" and said such behavior is not tolerated, according to an agency statement obtained by The Hartford Courant.

The department said it planned to complete a human resources investigation after the criminal investigation is finished.

The state Department of Public Health, which regulates health care facilities, said in a recent inspection report that officials identified up to 40 staff members at Whiting Forensic Division who were seen on video surveillance being abusive or witnessing abuse and not reporting it.

Eight other workers were seen talking on their cellphones or were not near the abused patient when he was supposed to be under constant surveillance, the report said.

The Courant reported that the abused patient was admitted to the hospital in 1995 after being acquitted by reason of mental disease or defect in the death of his father in Greenwich. The patient was kicked, jabbed, poked and taunted by staff during several weeks earlier this year, the newspaper reported.