“State Fails to Report Hundreds of Abuse Cases to Law Enforcement”
December 15, 2014
2014 Silver Showcase Award Winner – Judges’ Comments: Reporter Brian Collister took a viewer’s tip about her mother’s treatment at Austin assisted living center Longhorn Village and turned it into an examination of how well the state monitors the safety of thousands of people living in the facilities statewide. The answer was troubling: not very well. By law, the Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) must relay to local law enforcement, within 24 hours, any report of abuse, neglect or exploitation the department receives. Collister established that DADS had failed to make the Longhorn Village case known to law officers. That reporting triggered an internal review that found the agency failed to report 78 percent of the cases it investigated between January 2012 and March 2014. Collister mixed the poignant and personal stories with tough questions for officials who had failed to do their jobs. His reporting showed a deft touch with records, and KXAN-TV compiled and posted on its website a database of all the abuse, neglect or exploitation complaints filed from January 2003 to 2014.
A KXAN investigation into a family’s allegation its elderly mother was sexually assaulted at an Austin’s Longhorn Village assisted living facility has uncovered more failures in the state system that’s supposed to protect elderly and disabled. Our investigation revealed the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, which regulates elder care facilities and investigated that case, broke the law by not reporting the Longhorn Village case to law enforcement. As a result, the state launched an internal review that now reveals DADS investigators failed to follow the law in more than 1,500 other elder abuse cases. That’s 78 percent of all cases DADS investigated in only a 29-month period between January 1, 2012 and May 16, 2014. As a result of our reporting, DADS took action, finally notifying law enforcement agencies across the state of the cases it failed to report.
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Submitted by Brian Collister.