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WI: Death Investigation

Your assistance is requested in this Wisconsin wrongful death case.

I was contacted by Steve Wagner from the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) in Los Angeles. CCHR is a non-profit organization established in 1969 by the Church of Scientology to investigate and expose psychiatric violations of human rights and crime and fraud in the field of mental health.

Foster Child’s Death

Steve saw my website and e-mailed me. He had earlier been contacted by Donna Pavlik of Minnesota, whose foster daughter, Angellika Arndt, died after being restrained by two employees at the behavioral treatment center where she was a day patient. Steve is seeking my help and the help of parents who have experienced similar heartbreaks in getting justice for Angellika’s family.

On May 25, 2006, 7-year-old Angellika lost consciousness after being restrained at the Rice Lake Counseling and Guidance Center, in Wisconsin. She died the next day in Minneapolis, where she was hospitalized. The medical examiner of Hennepin County (Minnesota) ruled her death a homicide (death caused by another person).

Angellika had been attending the Center five days a week for the previous month. She was placed in a “control hold” for one to two hours, in which she was held on her stomach on the floor, with one staff member gripping her ankles as another holding down her shoulders. She calmed down, was released and then passed out. The reason she was restrained? She was gargling milk.

Investigation Continues

I spoke with the Angela Holmstrom, the district attorney of Barron County, WI, who is handling the case. She assures me that the case is being thoroughly investigated and reviewed by her office, as well as the local police, Attorney General and Department of Justice. In May, Holmstrom’s office stated that it did not expect to decide before July 15 whether to press criminal charges against the two people who restrained her.

Here we are – three and a half months later – and still no decision on whether to file a criminal charge.

The two staff members who restrained Angellika were immediately placed on paid administrative leave.

The Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services conducted an investigation of the Rice Lake Center after Angellika’s death and issued its findings in mid-June 2006. The report cited numerous violations. The most alarming fact is that the clinic used physical restraint procedures on Angellika, despite the fact that her treatment plan contained no mention of the use of restraint as part of her treatment! The clinic failed to seek and obtain such approval. But they used it on her anyway, resulting in her death.

According to the District Attorney, the one thing stopping them from filing criminal charges against the Center and employees is that they don’t think they can prove that there was criminal intent (intention to kill the girl).

There is, however, the crime known as manslaughter. Manslaughter does not require the District Attorney to prove criminal intent.

There is only one similar case I know of where the caregiver was prosecuted: In February 2004, Indiana day care worker Courtenay Scott pleaded guilty in the death of 2-year-old Alexis Williams. Scott restrained Williams by putting her legs on top of girl when she would not lie down for a nap. Scott was sentenced to two years probation, including six months home detention.

What I am leading up to with all this information is a request for you to write a short letter to Barron County District Attorney Angela Holmstrom urging her to pursue charges of manslaughter against the Center and the two employees. You can return the letter to me and I will forward it to Ms. Holmstrom and will also send copies to the Attorney General and Department of Justice.

Please read over this post again to get a complete understanding of the factors and then to write the letter from your own viewpoint and experience in similar matters. If you need assistance with writing the letter, Steve or I will be happy to help you with it.

I think that together, we can help bring about justice.


Voice for Children

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