Complaints, Suicide Fail to Close Mental Health Center

Doctor in charge isn't accredited, or a doctor, CNN alleges

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted May 9, 2014 3:24 PM CDT

(Newser) – Jessica Palmer was suffering from mental illness and drug addiction when her parents sent her to the Adolescent Family Institute of Colorado—but she didn't get the help they were hoping she would there. Instead the staff there told her that her parents didn't love her, that she was faking her illness, and "that she was a 'bitch,' 'dumb,' and a [expletive]," Palmer's parents allege in a lawsuit. A year after leaving the facility, Palmer killed herself. It's just one of the many, many allegations of abuse uncovered in a CNN investigation of the facility.

The network not only found allegations of abuse going back to the 1980s, it discovered that the facility's founder and president, Alexander Panio, isn't licensed to practice psychiatry or psychology in Colorado. His doctorate, earned in 1979, came from a distance-learning school with no government accreditation. State regulators have been repeatedly alerted to problems at the facility, but they've never shut it down, saying the claims "could not be confirmed." But the facility did shut down voluntarily last July, and police are investigating it. Click for CNN's full report.

  (Shutterstock)
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Baby Doe was required to bend over while [staff members] stood behind her, evaluating her exposed buttocks and genitalia. Baby Doe was then told to squat and 'walk like a duck.' - A civil suit against the facility involving an anonymous 14-year-old patient

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