A resident of Tacoma with developmental disabilities, Laura Gholston, was found to have been abused and neglected for 7 years, starting in 2004. At that time her nephew, LaMarcus Gholston, was appointed as her official caregiver, paid by the state. He was found to have kept Laura locked in a room with a filthy mattress and regularly burned her with a meth pipe.
Laura’s case manager failed to check if LeMarcus was fit to fill this role. He had a job laying down flooring during the day, meaning he was unable to appropriately care for Laura. Additionally, he did not complete mandatory caregiver training, but was still issued a certificate of completion and even paid for his time in “training wages”.
Today, Laura lives safely in an adult family home. A lawsuit filed on her behalf against the Department of Health and Human Services was settled in April 2015, awarding Laura 2.5 million to be put into a trust to pay for her care and therapies.
However, Laura’s story is just one example of abuse and neglect that happen to individuals with developmental disabilities in Washington State. Laura’s case eventually lead to the bill that created the Developmental Disabilities Ombuds, an organization with eyes and ears on the ground to monitor and investigate complaints to fight the abuse and neglect of individuals with developmental disabilities.