Staff Members Plead Guilty To Beating Arlington Resident
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 27, 2003
MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE--Two former employees of Arlington Developmental Center have pleaded guilty to beating a resident of the institution, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday.
Tovi Brewer, 25, and Leon Cecil Bratcher, 37, admitted that they conspired to deprive 41-year-old James Johnson of his federal constitutional right to be safe from staff assaults. Each faces up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
In their plea agreements, Brewer and Bratcher said that between January 1997 and June 1998 they routinely punched Johnson in the head and chest to punish him for behavior caused by his disabilities -- including wetting his pants. The defendants and witnesses covered up the abuse to protect each other, they said.
In a trial earlier this month, which ended in a mistrial, jurors saw photographs of Johnson's back that showed he had massive bruises, welts and 22 lashes that appeared to have been made by an electrical cord.
Federal prosecutor Steve Parker told the jury that Johnson, who has mental retardation and does not talk, was "demonized" by the two men who were supposed to feed and bathe him. The two were too lazy to care for Johnson properly, so they tried to control him with threats and violence, Parker said.
A retrial was scheduled to begin next week.
The Justice Department said the two would be sentenced in accordance with United States Sentencing Guidelines.