I-Team: Mother Believes Group Home Worker Injured her Son
Bruising under Alex Fellows jaw.
LAS VEGAS -- Deep bruising and a broken jaw were the injuries the mother of a mentally disabled patient claimed her son suffered in the care of a local group home.
The allegations have sparked a police investigation at the privately-run facility called Dungarvin Nevada. It's a state-certified supportive living home.
Spinal meningitis robbed Alex Fellows of the ability to communicate. His mother is about the only one who can get through to him. The visits are short because Fellows lives at a group home for severely disabled adults.
During a visit in July, Jessica Casella noticed her son was in pain.
"So I lifted up his shirt and he had bruises -- deep tissue bruising -- all the way down his chest and on his stomach area," she said.
Casella says she was told by the group home that her son scratched himself. One week later, she learned a more serious injury.
"I got the call that Alex's jaw was broken, that he was at UMC."
Casella filed two police reports. She believes one employee mentioned in the police investigation is responsible. The I-Team is not releasing his name because charges have not yet been filed.
"When I first questioned the bruising and stuff, and the staff member was still there during the week when his jaw had got broken, they had told me the staff member was alone with Alex from 9 to 12:30," she said.
Dungarvin Nevada released the following statement:
"Due to the on-going law enforcement investigation and privacy laws we are unable to specifically comment on this case. We do, however, take our obligation of providing safe and quality based services to all of the individuals that are entrusted in our care very seriously. Dungarvin will cooperate fully with any investigations relating to this matter."
Dungarvin's supported living facility is inspected by Desert Regional Center. That's the same state facility investigated by the I-Team for multiple abuse allegations resulting in an employee's firing after the stories aired. State inspection records show Dungarivin was recently re-certified, passing multiple inspections. However state inspectors wrote Dungarvin continued to struggle with deadlines and that four of their own internal investigations were "not completed timely or thoroughly."
Casella wants to bring her son home, but she is only a year into her substance abuse recovery and isn't legally able to provide care for him. Fellows will have to remain in Dungarvin's care.
"He's the joy of my life. I know I've made my mistakes, but he doesn't deserve what happened to him," she said.
The I-Team has learned a Metro police detective prepared an arrest warrant for an employee at Dungarvin Nevada after conducting multiple interviews, but the district attorney's office declined to prosecute.
According to a source close to the investigation, there were two factors in the district attorney's decision. First, there was no direct witness to any alleged abuse. Second, there was a patient at the group home with a history of violence. Since the employee that was originally suspected was separated from Fellows, there have been no further injury complaints.
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