Former mental facility patient claims she was mistreated
PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. (WSVN) -- A former patient at a South Florida psychiatric center that houses troubled teenagers claims she was mistreated, the latest in a series of abuse allegations aimed at the mental facility that have elicited outrage and calls for an investigation.
"I misbehaved a lot, and I got Baker Acted," said 14-year-old Nikki Covington about the events leading up to the nine months she spent at the Citrus Center for Adolescent Treatment Services in Pembroke Pines, a facility that treats young girls with severe emotional, psychological and behavioral issues.
"I wanted to come home really bad," said Covington, who had left the hospital prior to an incident, captured on security video, in which Pembroke Pines police officers are seen punching and using pepper spray on a 14-year-old patient. The girl in the April incident is facing several criminal charges.
The girl's attorney, Gordon Weekes, said several other incidents uncovered since the footage of the altercation surfaced have prompted investigations from Pembroke Pines Police and the Department of Children and Families regarding the institution's alleged use of chemical restraints on their patients. "They coined it, with the wrong term, as 'booty juice,'" said Weekes.
Covington claims she was injected at least three times. "Like [in] a few minutes, you'll go to sleep ... for like, an hour," she said.
Covington's mother said she was horrified when she found out her daughter had been injected with the chemical. "I was terrified the first time I heard that," said Norma Covington.
Citrus Center officials declined to comment on camera, but later released a statement from spokesperson Josephine Cossio van Hemert that reads: "Citrus Health Network will conduct a thorough internal investigation into these allegations. We also welcome the Florida Department of Children and Families, and the Agency for Health Care Administration to conduct their own investigations into this matter."
Covington said the girls at the center have been trying to speak up for a long time, but no one had been willing to listen. "They try to tell people, but they don't believe them, cause they say they're like, in a crazy phase," she said. "So when somebody tries to tell them something, it's like, there's nobody [who] believes them."
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