Christopher Leverett, a young man with autism, was reportedly taken to the hospital on Thursday after allegedly being beaten by a caretaker in a Stillwater, Oklahoma, facility. Leverett’s mother, Robin Drinnon, is furious. Her 26-year-old son lived at the group home, and she trusted that he would be properly cared for.
“Now he flinches if I just raise my finger up just one time” Drinnon told News 9. “And Lord knows what it’s done to him inside and he can’t tell me.”
Drinnon says that the manager at the Stillwater group home noticed that her son had bruises on Wednesday. The manager asked the staff what happened to the young man with autism. Allegedly, at that point, caretaker Nick Butler told the manager that he needed to speak with him in the other room.
Human Service documents note that Nick Butler stated that the young man with autism hit him in the face first.
“Hit me four or five times in the face, and I hit him back,” Nick Butler said. “I didn’t mean to, and I didn’t want to, it was just an instant reflex.”
Drinnon says that her son has bruises on both sides of his face. She told reporters that she called the police on Butler. She says that a representative from Supported Community Lifestyles, the company in charge of the Stillwater group home, apologized for the incident, but the young autistic man’s mother says that an apology is not good enough.
“I’m sorry doesn’t fix it. It don’t change the fact that someone hurt him. Chris can’t take care of himself,” Drinnon, said. “I mean Chris trusted me to put him somewhere safe. And I honestly thought I had.”
— News 9 (@NEWS9) December 31, 2015
Ron Hammock with Supported Community Lifestyles said that Christopher has a long, documented history of assaulting staff members, according to News 9. Hammock said that Butler simply snapped after being assaulted by the young man with autism. Though Hammock said that he empathizes with Butler, he has still been fired.
Drinnon has removed her son from the Stillwater group home and taken Christopher to live with her. She says she has set up a GoFundMe account to pay for legal costs.
“Chris was abused at his care center and we need a little help raising the lawyer fees so we can take them to court for his justice,” the page reads. The goal of the fundraiser is $1,500. As of Friday afternoon, 775 dollars had been raised.
Becky Spencer, the mother of a 32-year-old son with autism, said online that employees in these group homes have to have the right demeanor. Spencer did say that she has never seen anything like what happened to Christopher happen to her son with autism.
“Hopefully the story making the news will inspire a lawyer to grab it up and run. Hard to picture this happening and not feeling angry,” Kenny Pierson of Kiefer, Oklahoma, said. “It’s just like these cr*phole nursing homes and long term care facilities, if you don’t have the temperament and nature then don’t do the job.”
— ABC Central Victoria (@abccentralvic) December 14, 2015
Autism Speaks’ literature explains the dynamics of a group home for people with autism or other disabilities.
“With the onset of de-institutionalization came the movement of individuals with ASDs and other developmental disabilities from large, congregate care facilities to smaller, more typical homes in the community. Group homes exist in every state. They are small, residential facilities (i.e. actual homes) located in the community and designed to serve children and adults with ASDs, intellectual disabilities or other chronic conditions. Typically, group homes have eight or fewer occupants and are staffed 24 hours a day by trained agency staff. Ownership of the house usually lies with the provider agency (as do staffing decisions) and not with the residents of the house. A primary goal of group home living is to promote increasingly greater levels of independence in the residents.”
Supported Community Lifestyles manages 10 homes in Ponca City, five homes in Enid, and two homes in Stillwater. Other services offered include home supports and vocational supports, according to the company’s website. They regularly provide activities like swimming outings and horse riding outings. Their facilities, like the one in Stillwater, were established to help people with developmental disabilities like autism.
[Image via GoFundMe]