The trial of a Southington man charged with abusing a patient while he was a forensic nurse at Connecticut Valley Hospital in Middletown began Monday.
Mark Cusson, 50, of 353 Harness Drive, Southington was charged in September 2017 with eight counts each of cruelty to persons and disorderly conduct. The former nurse worked for the state health department from 1996 until his retirement prior to arrest. Cusson is free on $75,000 bond and previously pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The alleged incidents occurred in the hospital’s Whiting Forensic Unit. Cusson is one of 10 former Whiting staff members charged in the abuse case involving William Shehadi Jr. The trial is being held in Middletown Superior Court.
Video monitoring in the patient’s room in the Whiting Forensic Unit reportedly showed Cusson placing his legs around the patient’s head in a scissor type hold before releasing the patient and moving away, according to Cusson’s arrest warrant. On March 7, 2017, Cusson entered the patient’s room holding a cup of an unidentified liquid, which he then poured over the patient’s head while the patient was in bed. He also allegedly took the mop and placed it on the patient’s head.
On March 11, 2017, Cusson placed his groin in the patient’s face and moved back and forth several times, the warrant said.
Dr. Michael Norko, director of forensic services for the state Department of Mental Health, testified about the policies and procedures at Whiting Forensic Unit after being called on Monday by Assistant State’s Attorney Jeffrey Doskos.
Norko said the patient involved was committed to the facility in 1995 after being found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect in connection with the death of his father.
The patient has a history or verbal and physical violence and is under constant monitoring. A camera was installed in his room some time after 2000.
Norko read portions of the hospital’s restraint and abuse reporting policies, including several variations of restraint methods. Norko said staff members are required to report any suspected abuse.
Defense attorney Norm Pattis questioned Norko on several aspects of the policies, asking if the examples of restraints are the only methods staff are allowed to use. He also inquired about the training and support Cusson received.
The trial is expected to continue throughout the week with presentation of evidence and testimony.
Shehadi’s conservator is currently suing the state over the allegations. The civil case is scheduled for trial in 2020, according to the state Judicial Branch website.
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