Prior to Escape, Police Respond to Alleged Assault
Embattled Palmetto Summerville declines comment on alleged June 2 incident leading up to a resident's escape days later.
Days before a second escape by residents at Palmetto Summerville Behavioral Health, one of the June 5 runaways allegedly made a failed attempt to bolt out a door of the facility, punching and shoving a woman in the process.
In a June 2 incident report with the Summerville Police Department, Crystal Carn, 28, not explicitly identified as an employee but does refer to another witness as a "coworker," reported a simple assault by 18-year-old Stephon Jordan at the mental health facility, 225 Midland Parkway.
Jordan was not charged or arrested at the time of the report. According to the report, the responding officer advised the woman of the process of getting a courtesy summons, which allows a citizen to press charges.
The alleged victim and a witness claim Jordan was attempting to leave the facility.
"Carn stated Jordan was attempting to flee. Carn stated an employee escorted Jordan back to his room … Jordan attempted to flee again … Carn asked Jordan to return to his room. Carn stated Jordan began to shove her," according to the report.
It continued: "While Jordan was attempting to flee, he started to shove Carn … When Jordan realized he could not open the door, Jordan shoved Carn's head against the door … Jordan started to hit Carn in the face with a closed fist."
On April 20, news of four facility residents escaping into nearby neighborhoods by jumping the facility's perimeter fence rocked the area. The escaped mentally-ill children, all under the age of 18, were recovered.
At the time, Palmetto Summerville said it would make improvements. However, less than two months later, two other residents escaped. It is not clear if there are any repeat offenders since names of minors in incident reports are blacked out. Jordan, an adult, is the only person named in the recent escape, which lasted only hours.
Carn complained of feeling dizzy after the alleged attack, but it is unclear if she sought medical attention. Attempts to contact the victim to confirm if she was employed with the facility at the time of the incident and if she sought medical attention failed.
During a June 17 phone conversation, a spokesperson for Palmetto Summerville Behavioral Health said she would send Summerville Patch the same press release issued last week after Summerville Police Department released the June 5 escape incident report. When asked if a statement would include information about the June 2 incident, the spokesperson replied that "the same press release" will be issued. When asked again if that press release would now contain information about the June 2 incident or if the company would release a separate statement, the phone lines were disconnected.
A return number is not given to members of the media and the call comes from an "unknown number."
When the emailed press release was received by Patch, a follow-up reply was made to illicit comment. However, no reply has been received.
Within the press release, originally issued June 14, it states: "Due to strict patient confidentiality and privacy laws, the facility is precluded from discussing the specific details of individual patient cases with others outside law enforcement and regulatory agencies."
The press release also states "every patient admitted to Palmetto Summerville Behavioral Health (Palmetto Summerville) has a specific psychiatric diagnosis indicating a severe mental health disorder. Our facility is a mental health/behavioral health treatment facility based on a medical model, not a correctional facility. Many of the youth placed with us have been the victims of neglect; physical abuse and other trauma as well suffer from other types of disorders. Our goal is to provide therapeutic interventions that can assist these youth in becoming productive members of society. No patient served at Palmetto Summerville has been charged for violent offenses."
The statement appears to contrast to the initial incident report April 20 when four facility residents escaped and the reporting person told the officer that all four runaways had "violent criminal histories."
However, the incident report was later revised on April 25 by the responding officer, who wrote: "At no time did any of the staff members mention that any of the four runaways were there because they had been charged with a capital offense. I was also not advised that these individuals posed a threat to society."
The facility promises better security features in that statement.
"Recently, Palmetto Summerville received approval from Summerville city officials to install a new 12-foot chain link fence that is designed to prevent climbing. A contractor has been identified to begin installation of the fence. The facility currently has surveillance cameras located throughout the facility but we are currently in the process of installing additional cameras," the press release states.
The incident report from the June 5 escape attempt does not state how the two residents left the facility, but the April 20 incident report did finger the fence as what failed to keep the four from fleeing.