Broken Shield

Number 25609
Subject Crime
Source California Watch
State California
Year 2012
Publication Date 02/23/12; 02/24/12; 02/24/12; 05/18/12; 07/31/12; 11/29/12
Summary Decades ago, California created a special police force to patrol exclusively at its five state developmental centers – taxpayer-funded institutions where patients with severe autism and cerebral palsy have been beaten, tortured and raped by staff members. But California Watch found that this state force, the Office of Protective Services, does an abysmal job bringing perpetrators to justice. Reporter Ryan Gabrielson, a Pulitzer Prize winner, exposed the depths of the abuse inside these developmental centers while showing how sworn officers and detectives wait too long to start investigations, fail to collect evidence and ignore key witnesses – leading to an alarming inability to solve crimes inflicted upon some of society’s most vulnerable citizens. Dozens of women were sexually assaulted inside state centers, but police investigators didn’t order “rape kits” to collect evidence, a standard law enforcement tool. Police waited so long to investigate one sexual assault that the staff janitor accused of rape fled the country, leaving behind a pregnant patient incapable of caring for a child. The police force’s inaction also allowed abusive caregivers to continue molesting patients – even after the department had evidence that could have stopped future assaults. Many of the victims chronicled by California Watch are so disabled they cannot utter a word. Gabrielson gave them a resounding voice. Our Broken Shield series prompted far-reaching change, including a criminal investigation, staff retraining and new laws – all intended to bring greater safeguards and accountability.
Category Contest Entry
Pages
Keywords California; police; autism; cerebral palsy; abuse; children
Related Links
Related Video
Contest Questionnaires Only members can download contest entry questionnaires! Log in to get access.
Ordering info Want to place an order? Email us or call us at 573-882-3364 (Stories are only available to members of IRE. For membership information, please refer to our membership page)