Video Shows Caretaker Abusing Patients
By By Elizabeth Strack
Feb 4, 2007 - 6:57:00 AM
ANAHEIM—Police officials in Anaheim have arrested one man and are still searching for another in a disturbing case of abuse caught on a cell phone video camera. Patrick John Solis, a 22-year-old caretaker from South Gate, has been charged with abusing two mentally disabled adult men under his care at Jossen Vocational Academy in Anaheim. On January 25, 2007, Solis was arrested on suspicion of felony false imprisonment and dependent abuse, a charge that carries up to four years in prison. Solis has since pleaded not guilty and been released on a $25,000 bail.
Officers arrested Patrick Solis, 22, on suspicion of false imprisonment and dependant abuse.
The pair of cell phone videos captures images of Solis repeatedly abusing mentally disabled men on two different occasions in the bathroom of Jossen Vocational Academy in Anaheim.
The first video, shot on March 22, 2006, shows a 38-year-old man, wearing a blue collared shirt, being slapped twice. A man who is not visible in the video is heard laughing in the background. When the disabled man groans and pulls away, someone off-camera begins to clap, possibly the same man.
Anaheim Police are looking for Michael Douglas Rama.
The second video, captured on April 12, 2006 shows a different 38-year-old man wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt leaning against a toilet. In the 30-second video Solis slaps the man three distinct times. The victim, described as having the mental abilities of a 2-year-old, lets out high pitched wails and at one point puts both of his hands up. After viewing the upsetting video NBC4 reporter Patrick Healy stated, “the victim cried out and appeared to be able to only speak one word ‘momma.’”
Solis is slapping him for what appears to be no reason except for self gratification," Anaheim police Sergeant Rick Martinez said.
The director of Jossen Vocational Academy, Deborah Varos, said it's her job to teach her clients behavioral skills. They spend six hours a day, five days a week at the privately run Academy. “All of the individuals that are served by us have self-care deficits and they also have severe behavioral challenges.” Varos stated none of their clients deserved treatment like that shown in the videos. She described her reaction to the video, “I was shocked. I cried. Because these are people that we're supposed to protect.” Anaheim police detective Cherie Hill, who lead the investigation, stated, “That’s abuse. These guys are placed in positions of trust. They're their caretakers. There's no reason they should be spanking them, hitting them, making fun of them.”
The cell phone on which the two videos were found belonged to an employee at the Jossen Vocational Academy. The employee had bought the phone from former co-worker Michael Douglas Rama. In September they discovered the disturbing videos and recognized the people in it as employees and clients of the Academy. Quickly realizing the seriousness of the case, they turned the phone over to the police. “Mr. Rama owned it,” Sgt. Martinez said. “He sold it to a co-worker or a former co-worker who discovered the images.” Rama, a 24-year-old who worked at the center, is described at 5'11", 185 pounds.
Since the incidents Solis had left the academy and was employed doing the same type of work at a different facility in Artesia. Rama also moved and was last living in Long Beach.
Detectives are looking for the public’s help in finding Michael Rama. They released the two videos on Thursday in hopes of finding him. Investigators would like to talk to him regarding his knowledge and possible participation in the abuse. Sgt. Martinez said, “We don’t know who was filming the beatings, that’s why we need to talk to him.”
The nonprofit Regional Center of Orange County oversees about 80 centers, including the Jossen Vocational Academy.
“We don't want to see anything like this happen ever again,” said Janis White, chief operating officer of the Regional Center, which is managed by the state Department of Developmental Services. “The people we serve are so vulnerable.” They have contracted with Jossen since 2002, the year that Solis was employed. White said she could not recall any abuse reports similar to recent incidents.
Since the assault the bathroom has been remolded. Director Varos also said their policy calls for two caretakers to take a client to the restroom to avoid allegations of abuse.
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