MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Two caregivers at a Twin Cities facility are charged with abuse after allegedly hitting a vulnerable adult and drenching him with water.
Parker Williams, 22, of Minneapolis, and Ibrahim Sheikh, 21, of St. Paul, are both charged in Dakota County with gross misdemeanor counts of abuse and disorderly conduct against a vulnerable adult stemming from incidents reported at an Empire Township facility in 2020.
If convicted of at least one of the charges, they face up to a year behind bars and/or fines up to $3,000.
According to a criminal complaint, Williams and Sheikh both abused the same person in their care, a man described as having several disabilities, including autism, Cornelia de Lange syndrome, anxiety, mood disorders, and rheumatoid arthritis. The victim is averse to cold and cold water.
Investigators learned of the alleged abuse in December of 2020. Another worker at a facility in the south metro reported that some of their colleagues were throwing water at the victim to deter unwanted behavior, which is against their training.
This had reportedly been happening since April of 2020. While the whistleblower didn't themselves see the abuse, they noted that the victim would go to the basement area dry and come back wet. They suspected the abuse was happening in the basement, because there are no cameras there.
Additionally, another whistleblower said that scooter boards were being used to punish the victim, adding that he'd be made to scooter until his knuckles bled. The second whistleblower also told investigators about an incident where Williams allegedly pushed the victim up against a wall and pulled food out of his mouth.
When Williams spoke with investigators, he said that he worked with the victim almost every day. He admitted to losing his cool with the victim over the incident with the food, but he denied ever having thrown water on the victim.
However, when investigators reviewed surveillance footage, they saw that Williams not only pushed the victim up against a wall, but he also threw him to the floor and kicked him on his backside. Immediately after, Williams directed the victim to the basement, after which water can be heard splashing.
In a second interview with Williams, he told investigators that what he did was wrong, adding that he was exhausted and overly aggressive.
As for Sheikh, when officers first spoke to him, denied throwing water on the victim or any incident involving the scooter board. He said that such things were against his training.
But when officers reviewed the surveillance video, they heard him yelling at the victim while he rode the scooter board in the kitchen area, saying "You want a glass of water? Because you're gonna sleep drenched in cold water, no clothes, nothing." He then threatened to fight the victim if he heard him yell.
Moments later, the sound of something striking human skin could be heard on the video, with Sheikh telling the victim to "get up." After this, Sheikh again threatens to hit the victim and throw water on him.
In a follow-up interview with investigators, Sheikh denied ever hitting the victim or throwing water on him, saying the surveillance footage just showed him handling a situation poorly and making empty threats.
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