Five suspended employees of the Beatrice State Developmental Center are being charged in connection with recent alleged incidents of abuse at one of the center’s living units.
Gage County Attorney Roger Harris identified those being charged as: 27-year-old Mathew Pangborn, 27-year-old Mathew B. Johnson, 23-year-old Carmen Yates, 23-year-old Cody Creek, all of Beatrice, and 21-year-old Cameron Barnes, of Fairbury.
The charges range from theft to abuse of vulnerable adult to strangulation — all of which are felonies. Harris filed motions to keep arrest affidavit records under seal in order to protect the victims and witnesses and prevent pre-trial publicity, which he says could cause problems with a jury pool.
Harris says more charges may be coming. A Nebraska State Patrol investigator and an investigator at Beatrice State Developmental Center conducted the investigation of alleged abuse incidents, filling several notebooks with their research and evidence.
He says the five people being charged were among a group of workers suspended following a report to the abuse and neglect hotline, and an internal investigation by Nebraska Health and Human Services.
Harris says some of the suspects came forward and cooperated with the authorities and they may be given some discretion. Harris declined to identify, by name, the victims of the alleged abuse.
He says most of the victims had been residents of the center, for some time. He said BSDC officials have been in contact with families and guardians for the victims.
“There’s a lot of good people out there that are employees and I’m sure they’re quite upset that something like this would happen,” he says.
Of those initially being charged, Harris said their employment ranged from fairly new hires to those who had been at the center for at least four to six years. He said they are front-line technicians who work with clients of the center.
Cameron Barnes is charged with six counts of strangulation and three counts of abuse of a vulnerable adult. Pangborn faces four charges of strangulation and six counts of abused of a vulnerable adult. Johnson is accused of five counts of strangulation and two charges of abuse of a vulnerable adult. Creek faces single charges of strangulation and abuse of a vulnerable adult. Yates is charged with one count of abuse of a vulnerable adult and a misdemeanor charge of theft.
Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice