CENTRALIA, Ill. (AP) — A former mental health technician accused of giving a “punishment” shower to a deaf and blind man living at an Illinois state home for the severely disabled was charged with felony neglect in connection with the choking death of the resident.
A grand jury indicted Christopher Michael Duguay, 25, of Alton last week for the March death of Todd Clementz, 46, at the Warren G. Murray Developmental Center in southern Illinois. The indictment was unsealed Thursday.
A jury in a coroner’s inquest last month ruled Clementz’s death a homicide. An autopsy determined Clementz died from choking on cold water as well as regurgitated food.
Co-workers of Duguay testified at the coroner’s inquest that the cold water shower, during which Duguay held a wand spraying the water, was intended to keep Clementz from going to sleep earlier than scheduled.
Most Read Nation & World Stories
Some added that Duguay — who is at least 6 feet tall and about 250 pounds — had previously given forced showers as discipline, but an Illinois state trooper who investigated the case said he wasn’t able to independently corroborate those accounts.
Duguay was released from custody on a $25,000 bond and is due in court Jan. 11. Online court records don’t list an attorney for him, and a telephone number provided by Duguay was not accepting calls Thursday.
Clinton County State’s Attorney John Hudspeth suggested that his office pushed for more severe charges against Duguay, but declined to discuss the grand jury’s secret deliberations.
“We presented the grand jury with options,” he said. “And this is what they came back with.”
Duguay was initially placed on administrative leave but later fired for seeking work at another state agency during an internal investigation, according to the Illinois Department of Human Services, which oversees the developmental center.
Clementz’ death has ramped up pressure on the state to close the facility and its six other developmental centers.
Parents and guardians of patients at the Murray Center and others like it sued in federal court after then-Gov. Pat Quinn targeted the facility for closure in a 2012 cost-cutting move.
Only Texas and New Jersey house more adults with mental or physical disabilities in state institutions. Thirteen states, including neighboring Indiana and Michigan, have closed all such facilities as part of a shift to smaller, community-based treatment options.
Follow Alan Scher Zagier on Twitter at http://twitter.com/azagier