Two months later, a 49-year-old caregiver, Richard Langford, was charged with sexual battery. Authorities say he promised a disabled woman magic markers if shed let him take her clothes off, and that when she refused, he pulled down her pants and forced himself on her. The victim described in a DCF record as childlike appeared for an interview with state agents clutching a stuffed animal.
Ross told The Miami Herald the woman later admitted she asked for it by inviting Langford into her room for sex, but the Pinellas County sheriffs office and the state attorneys office say that never happened. Langford pleaded guilty to molesting a disabled person and was sentenced to 66 months in prison.
In 2007, an AHCA inspector told a group of mental health and ALF officials that she would seek a revocation of Hillandales license, according to minutes of an Aug. 28 meeting, citing the death only days earlier of a 50-year-old man, Co Dang, who had wandered from Hillandale and was hit by a car.
DCF found that the mentally disabled man had repeatedly wandered from the home and been returned by law enforcement, concluding the home had failed to watch over him. In addition, DCF faulted Ross for instructing a caregiver not to start a search for the man after the caretaker discovered he was missing.
But the home was never disciplined for Cos death. AHCA instead imposed a $1,000 fine in 2007 for a host of unrelated violations, including failing to deter violence among residents and inadequate staffing.
AHCA says the Mapleway homes have been in compliance with state laws over the past four years. There have been no violations since 2007 that required sanctions, a spokeswoman said. In addition, physicians, residents and coordinators have commented, during inspections, that they are very pleased with the services being offered in the facility.
But records from AHCA and other agencies arrive at a different conclusion.
Two days before Christmas in 2009, DCF received a report that, among other things, Falcone, who suffered from cerebral palsy and mental retardation, had suffered a black eye at Hillandale. A DCF nurse concluded Falcone had not hurt himself in a fall, as the ALF claimed, but had been beaten. There were other concerns, DCF noted: The staff may not be adequately supervising the vulnerable residents, many of whom should have been housed elsewhere.
When AHCA arrived to investigate the April 2010 disturbance, records show they found residents dirty, with no shoes and strong body odor. One resident was wandering naked in the hallway.
Since Falcone has moved to a new group home in Tampa Bay, his sister, Cindy Milburn, says he has fared much better. Falcone has gained weight. He no longer drools or dozes from over-medication. The group homes staff ensures that he calls his sister twice a week unlike at Hillandale, where she said he never returned her dozens of calls. He has suffered no new injuries. And, perhaps most important, she says: Staff members treat him with dignity when he misbehaves.
When he goes into outbursts, the staff tell him he is entitled to do that in the privacy of his own room, Milburn said. They dont restrain him . Im glad I moved him.