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Physical And Sexual Assaults On The Rise At Iowa Institution
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
August 1, 2005

WOODWARD, IOWA--The Des Moines Register reported Monday that Woodward Resource Center, a state-run institution housing about 260 people with developmental disabilities, is seeing a recent rise in reports of sexual and physical assaults.

Until last year, Woodward had been the focus of a U.S. Department of Justice investigation initiated after one resident died in a bathtub in 1999 and other residents were seriously injured or died when they were physically restrained by staff members.

Even though the incidents of restraint have gone down so far this year, the rates of resident-to-resident and resident-to-staff assaults is on the rise. Advocates and law enforcement officials alike blame the increase of attacks on an increase of new, violent offenders who are being housed with potential victims.

In January, the guardians of one resident sued the state over claims that she contracted genital herpes from a sexual assault while at the facility.

In April, a 16-year-old boy who was at Woodward for weekend respite care was allegedly sexually abused by a male Woodward resident.

Also this spring, a 17-year-old girl was sexually assaulted at Woodward by a prison inmate on break from a work crew.

Beginning in March, Woodward employees reported to the local sheriff about a half-dozen serious allegations of assault upon them by residents.

The sheriff told the Register that he is frustrated at the lack of security at the Woodward campus.

Mike Davis, the institution's superintendent, had an entirely different take on Woodward's safety issues.

"Overall, I think things are going pretty good right now," Davis said. "Given the folks we serve, this is a safe place."

"Assaults on residents, staff on the rise at state-run Woodward Center" (Des Moines Register)
"Deaths in Iowa's Institutions" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)


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