A dozen patients were assaulted last fall at the state-run Sonoma Developmental Center in Eldridge, Calif., one of five board-and-care facilities in the state which serves 1,700 patients with cerebral palsy and severe autism, receiving painful thermal burns caused by a high-voltage stun gun, the investigative journalism group California Watch reported Monday in the San Francisco Chronicle.
The center's in-house police force, its Office of Protective Services, received an anonymous tip and accused caregiver Archie Millora of using a stun gun at close range on patients, California Watch said, but no arrests were made, and state records say it was at least nine days after the reported incidents that Millora was interviewed by detectives.
A charge against Millora for carrying a concealed weapon was eventually placed, and he pleaded no contest in April, receiving 20 days of electric monitoring and three years' probation, Sonoma County Superior Court records show.
The investigation by California Watch detailed how internal police forces at state centers, created to protect vulnerable residents, often fail to conduct basic police work in incidents of abuse, the newspaper said.
"There's absolutely no excuse for allowing that to happen like that without any ramifications," Republican Assemblywoman Connie Conway of Tulare, Calif., said of the stun gun investigation.
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