Former Institution Aide Sentenced To 31 Months For Beating
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 24, 2004
ARLINGTON, TENNESSEE--A former aide at Arlington Developmental Center was sentenced Friday to 31 months in a federal prison for his part in the beating of an institution resident.
Tovi Brewer, 26, told U.S. District Judge Bernice Donald that he was sorry for conspiring to deprive 41-year-old James Johnson of his federal constitutional right to be free from abuse by state employees.
Brewer and co-defendant Leon Cecil Bratcher, 37, admitted last October that they physically assaulted Johnson. The admission came after a jury deadlocked on the charges.
Bratcher failed to show up for Friday's sentencing hearing. Judge Donald said she would hold off until Wednesday to issue an arrest warrant for Bratcher's failure to appear.
In their plea agreements, Brewer and Bratcher said that between January 1997 and June 1998 they routinely kicked, slapped and punched Johnson in the head and chest to punish him for behavior caused by his disabilities -- including wetting his pants. The defendants and several witnesses covered up the abuse to protect each other, they said.
During the trial, 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.
The investigation began on June 8, 1998, when Johnson was reported to have sustained bruises and lash marks on his back, buttocks and hip.
"Todays sentence sends a strong message to those who would betray the trust placed in care taking positions and abuse those left in their care," Assistant Attorney General Acosta said in a Department of Justice statement. "Residents of such facilities have every right to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their condition, and we will not tolerate those who behave with such callous disregard for their humanity."