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MADISON-Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today that a Barron County corporation has been sentenced for one count of felony negligent abuse of a resident. Seven-year-old resident Angellika Arndt died in 2006 as a result of the negligent abuse. The manner in which she was restrained in a disciplinary action by staff caused her death by suffocation.
Van Hollen said that Barron County Circuit Court Judge Edward Brunner sentenced Northwest Guidance and Counseling Clinic, Inc., doing business as Rice Lake Day Treatment Center, 413 South Main Street, Rice Lake, Wisconsin, to the maximum fine of $100,000 plus restitution. The corporation had been convicted on December 6, 2006, of one felony count of negligent abuse of a resident after entering a no contest plea to the charge.
"The State of Wisconsin takes very seriously all instances of negligent abuse," Van Hollen said. "And where appropriate, the state will seek to hold all parties, be they individuals or corporations, responsible for criminal conduct that results in death, as happened in this tragic case."
According to the Department of Justice's criminal information filed against the corporation, on November 28, 2006, the corporation, and employees of the corporation's treatment facility, abused Angellika Arndt, a seven-year-old resident of the facility. The corporation failed to provide adequate training and oversight to staff members in the proper implementation of the facility's restraint policy, creating a significant danger to the physical health of the resident.
At the time of her death, Angie was being restrained by two adult staff members while lying facedown on a thinly-carpeted cement floor. For approximately 30 minutes one staff member held Angie's legs while another covered her upper torso with his own. At that time Brad Rideout, another employee, entered the room to relieve one of the staff members. Rideout resumed holding Angie's torso and head while supporting the majority of his weight by his elbows. After approximately another 30 minutes, Angie became calm and listless. Believing she had fallen asleep, the staff members rolled Angie over and observed she had turned a bluish color and was non-responsive. Attempts to revive Angie were unsuccessful.
The Hennepin County, Minnesota, Medical Examiner's Office ruled Angie's death was caused by positional asphyxia. A review of records revealed Angie died in the course of being restrained from the weight of the staff member upon her back significantly impairing her ability to breathe.
The case was prosecuted by former Assistant Attorney General William Hanrahan. Sentencing against Rice Lake Day Treatment Center was handled by Assistant Attorney General Frank Remington.
In a related case prosecuted by Barron County District Attorney Angela Holmstrom, employee Rideout received a sentence of nine months confinement, which was stayed, and was placed on one year probation. As a condition of probation, Rideout must serve 60 days in jail. Holmstrom had charged Rideout with one count of misdemeanor negligent patient abuse. He was convicted on December 6, 2006, when he pleaded no contest to the charge.