AFSCME Iowa Council 61 - Every Day. Everywhere. Making Iowa Better.

Des Moines Register: Rapist shouldn't go to state institution, union says

Rapist shouldn't go to state institution, union says

Des Moines Register | By Tony Leys, 8/25/2016


A man convicted in 2004 of raping a worker at the state’s Glenwood institution for people with intellectual disabilities is about to move into a similar facility in Woodward, the state workers’ union said Thursday.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said a judge recently ordered that Donald Wayne Young be sent to the Woodward State Resource Center. Staff at Woodward have been told the move is to happen Tuesday, the union said.

Young, 46, was convicted of sexually assaulting a supervisor at the Glenwood institution. The victim testified that Young, who was a resident of the facility, trapped her in her office and raped her as she screamed for help.

AFSCME’s Iowa president, Danny Homan, expressed outrage Thursday that Young was being sent back into the type of institution where he raped a state worker. “Woodward Resource Center is not a correctional facility, nor does it employ correctional officers; employees are resident treatment workers,” Homan wrote in a statement. “…If placed at Woodward Resource Center, this man is literally one lock, either by door or window, from harming someone in the community, a vulnerable resident, or another staff member.”

At Young’s 2004 sentencing, the victim asked that he be locked away in a secure place. "Donald Wayne Young is a very dangerous individual and will rape and batter again as the opportunity arises,” she told the judge, according to the Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil.

The victim said she continued to struggle a year after the rape. "I think it possibly would have been easier to die,” she told the judge. “I have lost my trust for humanity, I fear my own shadow and I mentally and emotionally challenge all persons I come into contact with."

Young's lawyer contended in vain that the defendant should be found legally incompetent because of his mental illness and disability. He was described at trial as being a 6-foot-3-inch, 300-pound man with the mind of an 8-year-old, according to the Nonpareil.

Young was sentenced to serve up to 10 years in prison. Assistant Corrections Director Fred Scaletta said Thursday that he was imprisoned until 2007, then civilly committed to a small psychiatric hospital the corrections department runs in Coralville. Scaletta said he couldn't comment on AFSCME's report that a judge recently ordered Young to be transferred from the Coralville facility to the Woodward institution.

The woman who was raped contended the Glenwood institution was at fault for failing to fix a door lock that would have prevented Young from getting into her office. The state wound up paying her a $500,000 settlement.

Homan noted that Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican, decided last year to close two state mental hospitals. One of them, at Clarinda, included a small, locked unit that held four sex offenders who had psychiatric disorders. Homan said one of the shuttered facilities might have had an appropriate spot for Young.

“Unfortunately, we now rank among the worst in the country for our mental health services, and it’s times like these when we see how irresponsible choices have consequences,” Homan wrote. “The state needs to look elsewhere for secure placement, whether that’s in Iowa or elsewhere.”

Branstad’s spokesman, Ben Hammes, said he couldn’t comment specifically on the Young case. But he objected to Homan’s allegations about the governor’s leadership of the state’s mental health system.

“Democrat Danny Homan, Vice Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, never lets facts get in the way of his counterproductive and self-serving partisan rhetoric,” Hammes wrote in an email to the Register. “…The fact is, Gov. Branstad has signed over $310 million in mental health care funding since 2011. The fact is, Iowans have more access to mental health care than ever before in a community based setting, which experts agree, is better for the patient.”

Hammes said a state bed-tracking system showed that more than 100 mental-health slots were available in hospitals across the state Thursday. However, hospital leaders have questioned the tracking system’s accuracy and usefulness.

State officials have talked in the past about creating a special nursing home facility for people with violent or sexual outbursts. Legislators passed a bill in 2013 to create a task force on the issue. Branstad vetoed that proposal, saying he'd already created a "work group" to consider the matter. The work group's meetings were closed to the public, and it did not propose opening up such a facility.

Amy McCoy, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Human Services, which runs the institutions, said she couldn't comment on any specific resident. But she said the department works to keep its staff safe while providing humane, dignified treatment to Iowans with complex needs. She said the Woodward institution houses some intellectually disabled residents who act out sexually. The facility has several measures it can take in such cases, including adding extra staff and using door alarms, she said.

The department also runs a treatment program for sex offenders at the Cherokee state mental hospital, but McCoy said the program is only for people who have a history of repeated sex offenses. She added that it might not be appropriate for a person with a deep intellectual disability.

 

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