DHEC investigates Summerville treatment facility after juveniles are arrested for sexual assaults

DHEC investigates Summerville treatment facility after juveniles are arrested for sexual assaults

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Department of Health and Environmental Control is investigating a Summerville treatment facility for young girls and boys after two sexual assaults were reported to police.

An unannounced inspection of Palmetto Behavioral Health was done just days after two juveniles were arrested. A victim told a therapist they were placed into a choke hold and raped twice within a week, according to a police report.

On Aug. 1, 2019, a DHEC inspector went into the facility after the Department of Social Services filed a complaint.

Many of the details of the complaint and dates were redacted by DHEC in response to a Freedom of Information Act request for inspection reports for the facility.

However, it is clear the inspector reported they were not granted access to all records in a timely manner. Documents say video from surveillance cameras in the facility has not been turned over to DHEC as of Aug. 8.

According to the inspection report. other failings include the facility not reporting a serious accident or incident within 24 hours, the facility not rendering care and services ordered by physicians, and the facility not taking precautions for residents with special conditions.

The report specifically said a resident, “was not afforded the right to be free from harm, due to the staff’s inability to provide proper supervision.”

After the arrests, the CEO of Palmetto Behavior Health said he was taking measures to make sure everyone involved would remain separated.

This isn’t the first time issues at this facility have been reported to DHEC though. An inspection report said a complaint was made in Aug. 2017 after four girls had escaped the facility. The inspection related to this complaint wasn’t completed until nine months later in May 2018. It found the facility was understaffed.

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