Commonwealth Journal

Local News

April 7, 2014

McCreary man pleads guilty in Oakwood abuse case

Somerset — The three men accused of provoking mentally disabled clients to hit one another have all received probated sentences for their roles in the September 2013 incident.

Coty King, 22, of Pine Knot, in McCreary County, appeared in Pulaski Circuit Court on Monday and pleaded guilty to two counts of abusing or neglecting an adult, a Class D felony. King’s guilty plea comes after two other men, Cody Burton, of Burnside, and Timothy Ball, of Pine Knot, entered guilty pleas to related charges earlier this year.

The three men were Oakwood employees when they were arrested in September 2013 after an investigation by Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway’s office. According to Conway, King allegedly provoked a developmentally disabled adult patient at Oakwood — a facility dedicated to the care of such mental health issues — to hit another patient while King used his cell phone to record the incident.

Burton was accused of participating in the incident and failing to report it.

Further review of video recovered from the cell phone led to the indictment of Ball for his involvement in another incident staged by King.

Burton on March 28 pleaded guilty to one count of abusing or neglecting an adult, and Ball in February pleaded guilty to one count of abusing or neglecting an adult as well.

The three men, who no longer work for Oakwood, were indicted in November 2013. King was initially indicted on three counts of knowing abuse or neglect of an adult. Burton was charged with two counts of complicity to knowing abuse or neglect of an adult, and Ball faced one count of knowing abuse or neglect of an adult.

The investigation began when personnel at Oakwood notified an investigator with the Office of the Attorney General’s Department of Criminal Investigators on Sept. 16 after learning about the first alleged altercation between the patients.

Jill Midkiff, spokesperson for the state’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said in September that 12 Oakwood staffers and three supervisors were pulled from duty after the alleged incident that resulted in King’s initial arrest. However, she stressed that CHFS does not suspect that all those individuals were involved, but were pulled from duty as a safety precaution “in case even one is determined to have knowledge of the incident.”

Prosecutors with Commonwealth’s Attorney Eddy F. Montgomery’s office today recommended in King’s case a sentence of two years in prison for each count of neglecting or abusing an adult, to run consecutively for four years. That sentence will be diverted for four years, which means King will be placed under supervised release for the four years. If he is found to be in violation of the supervised release, he will serve out the full four years in prison.

Burton was sentenced three years in prison, which will be diverted for three years. Burton’s diversion is also supervised.

Ball was sentenced to two years in prison, to be diverted for the two year period. Ball’s diversion will be unsupervised.

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