Documents reveal abuse at psychiatric facility for children, teens

Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 6:37 PM EST
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SIMPSONVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Arrest warrants detail two incidents of employees being physically abusive toward children at one Upstate residential psychiatric treatment facility in the past month.

Broadstep-Academy Venice is a 60-bed facility for children and teens. FOX Carolina Investigates started looking into the center after three teen girls ran away from it earlier this week.

Since then we’ve compiled documents from the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office and spoke with multiple state agencies to better understand the conditions the teens were living in at Broadstep-Academy Venice.

Here’s what we’ve uncovered so far.

On Oct. 7, employee Rufus Timmons flipped the mattress of a minor patient when the they refused to get up, according to arrest warrants from the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office. Timmons then grabbed the minor’s neck from behind, squeezed it and dragged them, the documents say.

Lt. Ryan Flood said in an email a complaint was made about the incident by the Department of Social Services on Oct. 13. Timmons was then arrested for cruelty to children on Nov. 11.

A second incident happened on Oct. 23.

This time, Flood said staff called the sheriff’s office to Broadstep-Academy Venice. It was initially reported a minor resident was assaulting staff members, but deputies discovered staff member Tasha Smith had struck a minor in the face after the child pushed a roller chair into another employee.

Flood said investigators found Smith’s actions were unwarranted and she was arrested for cruelty to children.

Surveillance footage was used during both investigations, according to the arrest warrants.

Broadstep-Academy Venice is one of the facilities DSS uses, meaning some of the children and teens treated there are wards of the state. We asked DSS is they were investigating the facility and a spokesperson confirmed they do have an open case, but said they could not provide any more details.

Because it is a medical facility, Broadstep-Academy Venice is also inspected by the Department of Health and Environmental Control. There have been 23 complaints filed against the facility with DHEC in the last five years, according to a spokesperson.

FOX Carolina Investigates has already requested additional documents from the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office, DSS and DHEC.

We reached out to Broadstep, the company that owns and operates the facility, but we have not heard back.