November 24, 2014

Jury now has 5th case of alleged abuser in BSDC scandal

Jury deliberations are underway in the latest case of a former Beatrice State Developmental Center worker who’s accused of abusing residents.

A Gage County District Court jury is debating the fate of Matthew Pangborn. He’s been on trial this week on five counts of abuse of a vulnerable adult, three counts of strangulation and one count each of attempted abuse and attempted strangulation.

The charges stemmed from alleged abuses of three residents last year.

Gage County Deputy Attorney Amanda Spracklen-Hogan said in her closing statement, quote, “all it takes for evil to prevail, is for good men to do nothing.”

She called the abuse “just plain wrong,” especially as it happened at a facility that was designed to protect and care for those individuals.

The alleged victims of the crimes are considered vulnerable adults, under state law.

Defense Attorney Brett McArthur questioned the reliability of the state’s witnesses in the trial, compared to the credibility of witnesses he offered.

McArthur said, “It is hard to accept the testimony of people who have told different stories to the authorities, have independently obstructed the investigation, had to be threatened, essentially paid for their testimony, I would just ask you, who would believe somebody like that?”

Spracklen-Hogan said the case is not a “government conspiracy” against one person.

She said, “Don’t stand idly by and allow the abuse…to go unheard, don’t allow evil to prevail.”

McArthur said in the case of one person charged, Cameron Barnes, seven of nine felony charges were dismissed in exchange for his testimony.

Pangborn opted not to testify on his own behalf in his trial. Four other former BSDC employees have been convicted of abuses this year.

By Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice