Office of the Attorney General
Community Presence Caregiver Sentenced in Abuse of Mentally Handicapped Patients

Press Release Date:  Thursday, May 26, 2011  
Contact Information:  Shelley Catharine Johnson
Deputy Communications Director
502-696-5659 (office)

Attorney General Jack Conway and his Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control today announced that a Kentucky caregiver was sentenced to nine years in prison in connection with the abuse of three mentally handicapped patients at Community Presence, Inc. in Carter County. Carter Circuit Judge Rebecca Phillips handed down the sentence today to 55-year-old Robert Thompson of Ironton, Oh.

"This sentence sends a clear message that the neglect and abuse of vulnerable citizens will not be tolerated in Kentucky," said General Conway. "The hard work of our investigators and prosecutors, working together with the local commonwealth's attorney and local law enforcement, brought justice in this case."

On September 20, 2007, Thompson and co-defendant Michael Yates of Ashland, among others, illegally restrained Michael Price, a mentally handicapped adult who resided at Community Presence, Inc. Over the course of an hour-and-a-half, Thompson, Yates, and others, restrained Price, laying on his back and chest and putting him at risk for serious injury or death.

On March 1, 2011, after a weeklong trial, Thompson and Yates were both found guilty in connection to the abuse of Price. The jury found Thompson guilty of knowing abuse of a vulnerable adult, wanton endangerment in the first degree, and unlawful imprisonment in the first degree. Yates was found guilty of wanton abuse of a vulnerable adult.

In addition, earlier this month Thompson pled guilty to three other cases of abuse at Community Presence. He committed abuse a second time against Price on Sept. 12, 2007, when he slammed Price's head into the hood of a car, and on Nov. 8, 2007 when he threw another Community Presence resident, Annie Thomas, to the floor using improper prone restraints, endangering her life.

Thompson also pled guilty in connection with the abuse of Craig Martin, a mentally handicapped adult who was under the care of and resided at Community Presence, Inc. On September 10, 2007, Thompson and co-defendant Ira Griffith, unreasonably confined and intimidated Martin with the use of improper physical restraints when he posed no threat to himself or anyone else. Griffith also pled guilty and will be sentenced in June.

Investigators from General Conway's Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control and the Grayson Police Department jointly cooperated in these cases. Prosecutors from the Office of Medicaid Fraud handled the prosecution of this case at the request of the Carter County Commonwealth's Attorney's office.

Sentencing for co-defendant Ira Griffith will be June 20, 2011 at 2:30 p.m in Carter Circuit Court.