Caretakers accused of beating patient at Mount Dora group home

Video shows suspects hit, step on woman with mental disability, police say

By Brianna Volz - Web producer

MOUNT DORA, Fla. - Four caretakers are facing charges in the beating of a patient with mental disabilities at a group home in Mount Dora, according to police.

Mount Dora police said employees at Attain Inc. told authorities the woman caused her own injuries during an episode and that her behavior while officers were at the facility was erratic and consistent with what employees reported.

The employees told police the woman had been acting out throughout the day and that they had tried using several soft control techniques to calm her down but were unsuccessful, officers said.

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When officers evaluated the woman, who had bruises on her face, cuts and a skinned knee, they found that she did not meet the criteria to be evaluated under the Baker Act, police said. Officers then documented her injuries and reported the incident to the Department of Children and Families.

The DCF worker who was assigned to the case asked to review surveillance video from the date of the incident, which revealed that the woman's injuries were caused by the caretakers, according to police.

The video begins with Sheneka Hester shoving the patient, causing her to skin her left knee, police said. Once the situation escalates, Jaleyah Wiggins is seen pushing and shoving her to the floor, officers said. Police said Carolyn Joe could be seen shoving the woman twice, once causing her to land on a couch.

Joe also put one of her feet on the woman's head and, at one point, puts all her weight on that foot, which officers said "could have easily caused great bodily harm or even death," according to a news release.

Berneisha Blunt hit the patient with a closed fist several times, police said. 

Blunt, Wiggins, Hester and Joe are all facing a charge of aggravated abuse of a disabled adult, according to police. All four women were also immediately placed on administrative leave and are not expected to return to the facility, according to an affidavit.

Blunt and Hester both turned themselves in this week and were booked into the Lake County Jail, police said. Hester has since been released.

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