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DOJ investigating human experiments, 'sexual arousal studies' at Iowa center for people with disabilities

Posted at 11:42 AM, Dec 13, 2019

GLENWOOD, Iowa — The superintendent of Iowa’s care center for people with intellectual disabilities has been placed on paid leave amid a federal investigation into the facility.

The director of Iowa’s Human Services Department, Kelly Garcia, sent an email Monday to staffers at the Glenwood Resource Center, informing them of the action taken against Jerry Rea. The Des Moines Register reported that Garcia said Rea was placed on leave “in light of” a federal investigation into conditions at Glenwood.

Associated Press efforts to reach Rea on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

The newspaper reported earlier this month that the U.S. Department of Justice was investigating whether the state has been violating the federal rights of people with disabilities at Glenwood. A Nov. 21 letter from an U.S. attorney general said investigators would check — among other things — whether the state was providing adequate medical care and using “needless and harmful restraint practices.”

"The DOJ investigation of Glenwood Resource Center related to ‘human subject experiments’ is focused on ‘optimal hydration’ under the ‘Perfect Care Index,’ and ‘sexual arousal studies.’ While we are still gathering the facts, we will investigate and address every allegation," Matt Highland, a spokesman for the Iowa Department of Human Services, told the Register.

According to KCCI, there have been three deaths at the facility in the past eight weeks.

The Glenwood center provides care to about 250 people with intellectual disabilities, many of whom have other health issues. Its history of problems over the years includes mistreatment of residents.

The Scripps National Team contributed to this report.