Sunday, March 11, 2001

Relief belies charges 2 face

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — Butler County families think the recent allegations against two men who worked with mentally disabled people will have far-reaching implications.

        “I think one good thing is that if it does get exposed — even though we're embarrassed that it happened in our own county, which is a progressive county — the good thing is that the potential for this will be looked at all over Ohio,” said Robert Neubert of Butler County's Morgan Township, governmental affairs chairman for the Arc of Ohio, an advocacy group.

        Timothy Lee Ivers, 38, of Fairfield, and Jamie Ray Puckett, 27, of Hamilton were indicted on charges of patient abuse and assault. Mr. Ivers faces a count of each charge; Mr. Puckett was indicted on two counts of each charge.

        Freed March 2 on $10,000 bond apiece, the men are scheduled to appear March 16 in Butler County Common Pleas Court.

        Despite concern over the alleged criminal conduct, advocates for the mentally disabled say they think Butler County families have retained their faith in the county's board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.

        “Of course, everybody is upset about it,” said Cindy Carpenter, the county's clerk of courts, who has a daughter with developmental disabilities. “It's not the standard of care that we expect or that we're entitled to through their programs. But I think there's still a strong sense of confidence with the board of MRDD's programs.”

        Authorities have said that no one suffered serious physical harm or sexual abuse.

        Butler County Prosecutor Robin Piper said, “The methods of detecting and monitoring these situations have improved significantly since 1996.”

        Pam Long, spokeswoman for the Butler County MRDD, said her agency has added security systems, increased staffing in its “unusual incident review office,” and has increased training for workers about abuse and neglect.

        Maltreatment “is something that parents of handicapped children worry about a lot,” Ms. Carpenter said. “But the sense is that it is not, in fact, widespread, that it is an isolated incident.”


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