December 6, 2006

On December 6, 2006, the Wisconsin Attorney General's office announced that Northwest Guidance and Counseling Clinic (a mental health facility doing business as “Rice Lake Day Treatment Center”), in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, was convicted of one felony count of negligent abuse of a resident, after entering a no contest plea. This conviction is the result of charges brought against the center in the death of 7-year-old Angellika Arndt, who was a patient at the facility.

On May 25, 2006, Angie was restrained by two adult staff members while laying facedown on a thinly-carpeted cement floor. One staff member held Angie's legs while another covered her upper torso with his own, initially supporting the majority of his weight by his elbows. Angie was resisting the efforts to restrain her by crying, screaming and thrashing about. The staff member covering Angie's upper torso reached over to attempt to control her head, which was thrashing about. After approximately 30 minutes, Angie became calm and listless. Believing she had fallen asleep, the staff members rolled Angie over and observed she had turned a bluish color and was non-responsive. Attempts to revive Angie were unsuccessful.

She died the following day in Minnesota, where she had been transferred. Her death was ruled a homicide by the Hennepin County (Minnesota) Medical Examiner.

The affidavit filed with the criminal information states that from the time of Angie's admission until her death, there had been numerous acts and omissions by employees of the facility that had compromised her safety, including the fact that her treatment plan did not call for the use of any form of physical or mechanical restraint.

In a related case, Brad Rideout, an employee of Rice Lake Day Treatment Center, was charged by Barron County (Wisconsin) District Attorney Angela Holmstrom with one count of misdemeanor negligent patient abuse. Rideout was convicted after pleading no contest to the charge.

Both Northwest Guidance and Counseling and Mr. Rideout will be sentenced on December 27, 2006.

150 coercive restraint deaths occur without accountability in mental health facilities every year in the United States. It is for this reason that the Citizens Commission on Human Rights would like to commend District Attorney Angela Holmstrom and Assistant Attorney General William Hanrahan for their thorough investigation and resulting prosecuting in this most tragic and sensitive case.


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