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Was a Murray resident waterboarded?

Wednesday, Dec 16, 2015

* AP

Like most of the severely disabled residents at the Warren G. Murray Developmental Center in southern Illinois, Todd Clementz stuck to a routine: Deaf, blind and requiring constant supervision, he passed his days with meals, therapy and an evening bath.

But in late March, Clementz’s routine was disrupted when a worker at the state hospital gave him an unscheduled shower, during which the 46-year-old man choked to death. A jury in a coroner’s inquest last month ruled his death a homicide. […]

Tom Hatley, a state police investigator, testified at the coroner’s inquest that the mental health technician who gave Clementz the shower told him that Clementz had missed his regularly scheduled bath “because he was exhibiting a behavior.”

Other workers testified that the forced shower was meant to help keep Clementz from going to sleep earlier than scheduled.

Within minutes, Clementz began choking on the cold water being sprayed from a hand-held shower wand, the trooper testified. His lips turned blue as he became unconscious and went into cardiac arrest. An autopsy determined Clementz died from choking on cold water as well as regurgitated food.

“This gentleman was waterboarded,” said Tony Pauluski, executive director of The ARC of Illinois, an advocacy group that wants the state to close all of its developmental centers by 2020.

Hatley said several co-workers of the technician — who is at least 6 feet tall and about 250 pounds — said he had previously given forced showers to discipline uncooperative residents. The trooper said he wasn’t able to independently corroborate those accounts.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Jimmy CrackCorn - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 9:33 am:

    Rep. Meier, call your office…

  2. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 9:35 am:

    –Hatley said several co-workers of the technician — who is at least 6 feet tall and about 250 pounds — said he had previously given forced showers to discipline uncooperative residents. –

    It was apparent under Quinn, and is apparent under Rauner, that what the chief executive of the state needs to do is get personally involved in the actual running of the executive branch, rather than goofing around with the GA like some super-legislator on whatever ideological ax they want to grind.

    It’s a big job, a lot of responsibility. It requires a lot of attention and insistence on accountability.

  3. - Union Dues - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 9:41 am:

    I have little doubt that facility is understaffed and poorly managed. It is true in all state facilities and offices these days.

  4. - illini - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 9:42 am:

    Surprisingly, or maybe not so, the Centralia Sentinel did not pick up on this follow up. Criminal investigations are still pending as far as I know.

  5. - Dome Gnome - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 10:00 am:

    The death has been ruled a homocide, but criminal charges are still pending.

  6. - transplant - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 10:07 am:

    This isn’t the only investigation into the Murray Center. The death of an employee after being punched in the chest by a resident over the summer has been found by the St. Louis coroner to be a homicide. Another criminal investigation was recently launched into photos taken by an employee of a resident in his underwear being posted to social media.
    Those stories haven’t been picked up by the Sentinel, either.

  7. - Chris - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 10:10 am:

    “Waterboarding” is a specific thing, which the described incident was not.

    It’s culpable homicide, for sure, but it is no more “waterboarding” than it was a “hanging”.

  8. - illini - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 10:18 am:

    Transplant - news to me, and I live 12 miles from the Center.

  9. - Dome Gnome - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 10:24 am:

    Waterboarding really is a specific thing, meant to force compliance. Todd Clementz was being forced to comply. I’m not too troubled by the fact that he didn’t have any state secrets to surrender. This was torture.

  10. - Dome Gnome - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 10:34 am:

    I just read this particular article again and noticed a distinction between this and other articles. Other news sources have quoted staff who referred to these showers as “punishment showers.” When a cruel treatment has a name, a purpose, an objective . . .

  11. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 10:35 am:

    Waterboarding? Or drowning?

  12. - Union Man - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 10:42 am:

    Late March? 9 months ago?? That delay in itself seems criminal.

  13. - Pacman - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 10:50 am:

    During the campaign Candidate Bruce Rauner pledged to keep the Murray Center open. Rita Winkler who was quoted in the story was on Governor Rauner’s transition team.

  14. - transplant - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 10:51 am:

    illini: I’m also local.

  15. - Bud Keyes - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 10:54 am:

    So sick. More abuse by “trusted” people. I bet this person is not even licensed. Just here is your job, do what you want with the most vulnerable….

  16. - illini - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 11:08 am:

    transplant - thanks for the links. Hate to say it, but local radio is a distant second to KMOX except for the 3 hours Rush is on. Maybe I should pay a little more attention to local news casts. Thanks again.

  17. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 11:50 am:

    The blood is on the hands of Governor Rauner, as his campaign attested last year about similar situations.

  18. - Qui Tam - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 11:51 am:

    Lisa Madigan will have her work cut out for her defending these perpetrators.

  19. - Chris - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 12:26 pm:

    So all torture involving water is now waterboarding? C’mon.

    It’s a horrible enough situation that there shouldn’t be a need to distort language to explain how awful it is. Leave the worst word twisting to the Guv’s office trying to defend it.

  20. - cdog - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 2:09 pm:

    SEVERAL COWORKERS KNEW he was disciplining uncooperative residents like this?

    a classic Either/Or.

    Either the coworkers made reports and management is most likely culpable.

    Or, the Code of Silence. Where the good people can’t talk, and the bad people won’t.

    very sad.

  21. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 2:15 pm:

    He was deaf and blind.
    He didn’t know what time it was.
    He didn’t know if it was daytime or night.
    He didn’t know who was taking him places.
    He didn’t know if he was misbehaving.
    He didn’t know why he was being showered.
    He didn’t know why he was being “punished”.

    The idea that you punish an individual who is deaf and blind of consequences they can’t see, know or understand shows a reveals a stunning level of ignorance, empathy and intelligence.

  22. - illini - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 3:01 pm:

    VanillaMan - Excellent point. Many others at the Center have similar disabilities that make it impossible for their families to care for them. Makes you wonder how other “problems” are being addressed by the staff.

    All the residents have families, yet it does make me wonder why Rita Winkler of the Parents Association has made no comment on this or other incidents that recently came to my attention.

  23. - Cheryl44 - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 3:44 pm:

    I don’t think this is waterboarding. In waterboarding the torturer isn’t really supposed to kill the person being tortured.

    I do think it was torture and mostly likely murder also.

  24. - Give Me A Break - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 4:19 pm:

    “makes me wonder why Rita Winkler of the Parents Association has made no comment on this or other incidents that recently came to my attention.”

    Because Ms. Winkler and Charlie Meier spent two years telling the media and the General Assembly Pat Quinn and DHS were lying and Murray was a shining example of quality care. They both flat our lied to the media, COFGA and anyone who they thought would help them.

    So Rita and Charlie, let’s here from you. I’m sure you will find a way to blame Quinn and former DHS staff for this.

  25. - Muscular - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 4:28 pm:

    We have not heard from AFSME in all of this. Is the union defending punishment showers?

  26. - Flabby - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 5:00 pm:

    “Is the union defending punishment showers?”
    Usually it’s the State and AG that defend illegal punishment when its applied to employees. It would likely defend the abuser if management doesn’t follow the contract.

  27. - illini - Wednesday, Dec 16, 15 @ 5:05 pm:

    GMAB - to your post. I have known ( albeit not that well ) 2 past administrators as well as quite a few individuals that worked there. Most are now retired. Some were very caring,compassionate individuals, some were there simply for the paycheck and there were a few that I would not have trusted to take care of my dogs.

    I have to admit, I had very mixed feelings about the closure. Both from the standpoint about the quality care some of the residents would get in the smaller group homes as well as the devastating impact that its closure would have on the local economy.

    Charlie, Rita, and the community rallied to keep it open and BVR got a lot of votes he would probably not have gotten had he not committed to keep it open. And you are quite right, we are not hearing anything from any of them.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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