Information surrounding the investigation into what is being called “unprofessional conduct” by the authorities at J. Iverson Riddle Developmental Center in Morganton, North Carolina, was recently made public via The News Herald. J. Iverson Riddle Developmental Center is a state government institution dedicated to the care and treatment for persons with developmental challenges. According to a statement from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, reports were received in mid-September concerning several of the staff members who were sent home after allegedly allowing what The Herald and others in the Foothills area are referring to as a “fight club” at Elm Cottage taking place between its residents.
An internal advocate at J. Iverson Riddle Developmental Center would not confirm with reporters as to the validity of this investigation surrounding a fight club; however, the human services department within J. Iverson did state that these allegations were being investigated by authorities, and no residents were found with sustainable injuries. The conduct of these employees has been stated as unacceptable by the Developmental Center department.
Thus far, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has stated that eight employees have been fired and two others were transferred to another facility. On October 5, a statement from the NCDHHS remarked that the situation was being monitored and investigated, as safety remains the top priority of NCDHHS and the state.
“At the Department of Health and Human Services, our highest priority is the safety and well-being of those we serve.”
Kristine Sullivan, a senior attorney with the Disability Rights of North Carolina, has also told reporters that the non-profit organization, which advocates for the rights of people with disabilities, will also be monitoring the situation. This organization is fully supporting the state’s efforts to investigate the “abuse” that allegedly occurred at J. Iverson Riddle Development Center, and to see to it that such a “culture of abuse” does not happen at J. Iverson going forward, says Sullivan.
The incident is unfortunately not the first investigation to take place within the walls of J. Iverson Riddle Development Center surrounding instances of patient injuries and further allegations of abuse. In 2010, the Riddle Center terminated nine other employees after launching an internal investigation, which Burke County Department of Social Services referred to the district attorney’s office. The News Herald also reported on that separate, prior occurrence.
Just as with the investigation in 2010, no names of the accused are being made public.