Staff Directory 10645926

Chris Serres

Reporter | Social Services
phone: 612-673-4308
Chris Serres covers social services for the Star Tribune. He writes about issues affecting society's most vulnerable populations, including the poor, elderly, mentally ill and people with cognitive and physical disabilities. He is married and has two children, Dominic, 12, and Emmanuelle, 10. He has been a newspaper reporter for 20 years.
Recent content from Chris Serres
Thomas Ray Duvall, who has spent 30 years locked up for a series of brutal rapes of teenage girls, has been cleared for release by a Minnesota Appeals

Appeals Court clears serial rapist Thomas Duvall for release

One of the most violent sex offenders in state history has been locked up more than 30 years.Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper said she will appeal the ruling.
Alissa Quart Photo by Ann Fox

Review: 'Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America,' by Alissa Quart

NONFICTION: An intimate, sometimes demoralizing journey across the U.S. shows how even highly educated workers are barely scraping by.
Shawntel Harry has been working with Sonia Hovey for the past 4 months as her PCA. Years in the making, the new web portal — called Direct Support C

Minnesota rolls out first statewide job board for home care support

The new job board should help alleviate a critical shortage of caregivers.

New Hope senior facility cited for neglect in alleged sexual assault of a resident

The Minnesota Health Department concluded that Volunteers of America failed to complete updated individual abuse-prevention plans for both residents.
Raymond Traylor Jr., who is diagnosed with a serious mental illness, has been held at the Hennepin County jail for more than three months, because of

Lack of beds for those with mental illness keeps man at Hennepin County jail for 3 months

Raymond Traylor was transferred to a state psychiatric facility Thursday.
Bruce Biddlecome, the former executive director of Douglas Place Treatment Center in East Grand Forks, Minn., has been ordered to pay $16 million in d

Judge awards $16M to woman assaulted by official at Minn. facility

The judge cited the woman's vulnerability and the "deep wounds" caused by the abuse by the drug treatment center's top administrator.
Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper said Anoka-Metro Regional Treatment Center has made a significant turnaround, resulting from a greater focus o

In marked turnaround, Anoka mental hospital restores federal compliance

Now-compliant facility is no longer at risk of losing millions in funding.
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson has joined counterparts in 16 states in a federal lawsuit against the Trump administration challenging the pra

Guatemalan father tells of perilous journey, separation from daughter in Minnesota

They have pleaded with immigration officials that they be allowed to stay together.
Scott Semo is one of thousands of Minnesotans with disabilities who rely on Medicaid to pay for support sevices. Semo received care from his personal

State cuts to rates for disability services allowed to proceed, judge rules

The cuts will go into effect Sunday and could imperil services for thousands.
A protester holds a sign outside a closed gate at the Port of Entry facility, Thursday, June 21, 2018, in Fabens, Texas, where tent shelters are being

Migrant children separated from parents start to arrive in state

The first in an expected surge of unaccompanied minors, forcibly removed from their parents, are making their way to distant relatives in Minnesota and surrounding states.
Shane Peterson, center, who was recently released from prison after a 17-year stint, chats with group members after a group work out on the city’s s

Minneapolis nonprofit builds hope, new lives through running

With fellowship and discipline, former convicts go the distance to find community and rebuild their lives.
Francisco Javier Ramirez

Nursing home employee charged with manslaughter

An investigation found the caregiver violated several safety protocols.

Resident at Brooklyn Park care home found dead after nurse failed to check ventilator

State investigators said that a nurse failed to check his ventilator overnight.
Roberta Opheim, the state ombudsman for mental health and developmental disabilities, said the federal audit raises broader concerns about whether DHS

Feds fault Minnesota for inadequate oversight of adult day centers

Inspectors found 200 violations at senior day centers in state, federal audit shows.
The Rev. Harry Maghakian, a pioneering advocate for people with mental illness and the founder of People Incorporated, died last month. He was 94.

The Rev. Harry Maghakian, who founded nonprofit People Incorporated, dies at 94

His 50-plus years as a Presbyterian minister came with a faith in the power of a single individual to change the world.
Scott Semo is one of thousands of Minnesotans with disabilities who rely on Medicaid to pay for support sevices. Semo received care from his personal

Minnesota disability service providers seek halt to government cuts

The class-action lawsuit says 7 percent state funding cut will cause "irreparable harm."
Monday will be the first weekday since the state shut down the main entrances from Interstate 35W into and out of downtown.

Minneapolis 35W motorists brace for infuriating commute

Office workers, restaurant servers, business owners, and city officials, among others, are busy preparing alternate plans to avoid what are shaping up to be epic traffic jams through the summer.
Kyle Fokken’s“Top Dog”is one of five public art projects on display on W. 29th Street near Lyndale Avenue.

New public artworks unveiled at Open Streets Minneapolis

At Open Streets, city unveils five new works along 29th in Uptown.
Like thousands of other high school graduates in Minnesota, Chris McIntire went straight to work at a segregated workshop, where he did menial factory

Chris McIntire: Making it 'fun for everyone'

Judy McIntire recalls feeling “frustrated and confused” when she learned in 2016 that a new federal law would require her son Chris, who has a…
Lacey Athey, 19, a senior at St. Anthony Village High School, has struggled in school with severe attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and

Lacey Athey: At last, an outlet for her restlessness

Lacey Athey shifted nervously in her seat and slapped her thighs as she rattled off the qualities that might make her an asset to employers.…
Alex Hagen, 21, has severe autism and limited speaking skills. But since he was a child, Hagen has displayed an amazing talent for playing the piano �

Alex Hagen: Joyfully speaking through music

Alex Hagen sat with his lanky frame hunched over a grand piano, his head bowed and eyes downcast. Then, without warning, he tore into the…
Amanda Weber (left) and Dwight Mitchell (right) are among a group of Minnesota parents who say their children were wrongly removed from their homes, a

Minnesota parents seek a statewide ban on child removals, allege abuses

A group of parents escalates a legal fight against what they call "legal kidnappings."
Officials with Wayside Recovery Center, which operates two drug treatment centers in the Twin Cities, said they would double their number of beds if t

Minn. seeks expanded Medicaid dollars for drug treatment

It would help make services available to more low-income people who have been disproportionately affected by the escalating opioid epidemic.
Families of elder abuse victims protested inaction by the Legislature on Friday. A few provisions made it into the budget bill.

Effort to reform elder care system falls short at Capitol

Weeks of intense negotiation involving Dayton, GOP legislators and a coalition of senior organizations over a bipartisan deal collapsed over the weekend.
Prekindergarten children sat down to a dinner of fruit cocktail, pizza and milk at First Choice Child Care Center in Minneapolis.

Somali child-care providers push back vs. fraud, terror allegations

Past misdeeds of day-care providers fed mistrust, legislative inquiry
Abdulaziz Sugule of the Somali American Money Services Association, Jaylani Hussein of CAIR-Minnesota and Imam Hassan Mohamud of the Islamic Dawah Cen

Minnesota's legislative auditor will investigate alleged fraud in child-care subsidy program

Legislators requested probe after TV report.
Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria listened as Rep. Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River railed against alleged abuse of child-care funds.

Minnesota GOP calls for crackdown on child care assistance fraud

Key lawmaker calls a report of pilfered money going to overseas terrorists "extremely troubling."
Assistant DHS Commissioner Claire Wilson said the 11 residential treatment centers affected by the loss of Medicaid funding are crucial and urged stat

Cutoff in federal funds could imperil children's mental health treatment centers across Minnesota

Ruling will aggravate the state's shortage of youth psychiatric care.
“I love these people, but I feel like I’m missing out on life every day that I’m stuck here,” said Korrie Johnson.

Young Minnesotans with disabilities forced to leave home

Shortage of home health workers pushes the disabled into nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.
“I feel like I’m being dragged by a moving train, by a process that’s out of my control,” said DeClara Tripp, who is fighting to regain custod

State accused of racial bias in crackdown against child abuse

An emerging coalition of black parents, civil rights activists and state legislators is pushing for stronger parental rights and greater oversight of social service agencies.
Star Jones wiped tears away as Dwight Mitchell talked Tuesday of his struggle to get his children back.

Child welfare workers illegally taking kids out of Minnesota homes, suit says

In the civil rights suit, attorneys for a group of parents allege that Minnesota's child protection laws are overly broad.
Acting Human Services Commissioner Chuck Johnson (right) and Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, discussed a bill that would make it more difficult for

Minnesota Senate passes bill to tighten sex offender, mental health commitment rules

The legislation is in direct response to a court decision earlier this year that permitted the full discharge of a 51-year-old sex offender who has admitted to molesting more than 30 boys and girls.
Thomas Duvall was convicted of a series of brutal rapes of teenage girls in the 1970s and has admitted to more than 60 victims.

Minnesota Appeals Court to consider release of serial rapist

Appeals panel to decide if Thomas Ray Duvall is no longer a public danger.
The Anoka asylum, circa mid-1950s.

'Crusade for Forgotten Souls' reveals the tragic history of Minnesota's asylums

NONFICTION: A daughter of Norwegian immigrants helped bring about change.
Roberta Opheim, the state ombudsman for mental health and developmental disabilities, said group homes need to be "far more sensitive" to the vulnerab

Young woman with disabilities raped at a group home in Little Canada

Police say male caregiver admitted to the assault.
Unshoveled sidewalks in front of the house where Jerry Lee Curry allegedly abused his twin daughters until authorities removed the young women from th

State training academy proposed for overwhelmed child abuse workers

It would correct what many child welfare advocates see as a long-standing gap in Minnesota's decentralized system for protecting vulnerable children.
Jennifer Curtis of Forest Lake made an emotional appeal to the Forest Lake City Council in February, urging them to approve the project.

Child psychiatric center rejected by Forest Lake city officials

The $20 million project was hailed by mental health advocates, state officials and many nearby residents, who packed a City Council hearing Monday to voice their support
Kay Bromelkamp,left and Anne Sterner, both of Elder Voice Family Advocates delivered reports of elder abuse to Senator Tony Lourey (DFL) District 11 a

Families of abuse victims intensify push for elder care reforms in Minn.

Coalition swarms Capitol to push legislators to act.
A hallway that is scheduled to be remodeled at the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center was highlighted in a tour Friday.

State treatment facilities in crisis, $63M needed, officials say

The situation has reached a crisis point, officials said, with heating systems, roofs and other critical infrastructure failing at several centers.
June Alice Thompson’s body went undiscovered for two days because her assisted-living facility in Eagan failed to perform daily wellness checks.

Eagan senior home resident was dead two days before being found

In a report issued this week, state investigators determined that June Alice Thompson had died in her room last October, but her body was not found for two days because staff at her assisted-living facility — the Commons on Marice — failed to perform daily wellness checks as promised.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services is offering text messages as a tool for suicide prevention.

Minnesota expands suicide prevention text services statewide

Expanded service in Minnesota to provide instant crisis counseling.
Ann M. Wilhelmy, the longtime president of the Minnesota Newspaper Guild, has died. She was 68.

Ann M. Wilhelmy, journalist and longtime president of the Minnesota Newspaper Guild, dies at 68

Nothing about Ann M. Wilhelmy appeared combative or controversial. The soft-spoken copy editor at the Star Tribune stood a mere 5 feet tall, and was…
Scott Rhude of Willmar sat in a field of garbage while working on assignment with a sheltered workshop “enclave.”

Separation, inequality limit Minnesotans with disabilities

The first comprehensive statewide survey finds segregation and low wages.
Minnesota Sen. Karin Housley, center, is flanked by senior care lobbyists Toby Pearson, left, with Care Providers of Minnesota, and Kari Thurlow with

Industry lobbyists push back on Minnesota elder care reforms

With deep pockets and an army of lobbyists, Minnesota's nursing home industry exerts powerful influence at the Legislature.
The home at 4216 17th Ave. S. in Minneapolis where Jerry Lee Curry allegedly abused his twin daughters until authorities removed the young women from

Minneapolis man accused of abusing girls in "house of horrors" to appear in court

A Minneapolis man accused of raping, beating and torturing his twin daughters is scheduled to make a pretrial court appearance in late June in Hennepin…
Testing the technology: Hadley Lucca, making slime with her mom, Sarah, took part in a groundbreaking study at the University of Minnesota that uses e

Electrical brain stimulation could benefit children with cerebral palsy, U study finds

First-of-its-kind study using electrical currents to boost motor skills shows promise.
Gov. Mark Dayton unveiled a series of proposals Tuesday intended to enhance state oversight of senior care facilities and impose tougher penalties aga

Dayton proposes new measures to crack down on mistreatment in senior homes

A surge in complaints, including cases of criminal abuse and assault, caused state regulators to fall far behind.
Unshoveled sidewalks in front of the house where Jerry Lee Curry allegedly abused his twin daughters until authorities removed the young women from th

In Minneapolis, a 'house of horrors' hides in plain sight

Neighbors and relatives wonder why authorities didn't do more to rescue twin sisters who endured years of sexual abuse and neglect by their father.
Paulette Bakeberg, 70, was physically assaulted at an assisted-living facility in Delano, and is among hundreds of elderly residents of senior homes w

Scathing report assails state for failure to protect vulnerable seniors

Long-awaited findings are likely to fuel calls for reform to the state's troubled system for investigating abuse.
Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said DHS officials should be held in contempt of court for failing to admit an inmate held for 14 days after he wa

Sheriffs want legal action as mentally ill languish in Minnesota's jails

DHS has left too many to languish in jail, they say.
Acting Human Services Commissioner Chuck Johnson said the state has shown great gains in its effort to eliminate a backlog of unresolved allegations o

State's backlog of elder abuse reports virtually gone thanks to improved intake system

State had more than 3,000 unresolved cases alleging maltreatment in facilities.
Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo has charged the caregiver with two felony counts of neglect of a vulnerable adult.

Anoka County caregiver charged with criminal neglect in death of 83-year-old Minnesota man

Nurse found elderly man lying naked in the dark with filthy bandages, court complaint says.
Jennifer Curtis of Forest Lake made an emotional appeal to the council to approve the zoning text change.

Proposed children's mental health facility draws support

Despite pleas, the proposed $20M residential treatment center in Forest Lake faces an uphill battle, and the city council delayed voting on it.
Angela Naviosh got a hug from Douglas Milek while they waited at the Avivo recovery center to take a chemical health assessment.

Minn. agencies pushing for faster access to drug treatment

By July, many will get help in hours instead of weeks amid rising need with the nation's opioid epidemic.
With a box of his dead mother's ashes on the desk in front of him, Kent Edwards described how she was abused by two caregivers at a Lino Lakes assiste

Victims denounce a failing state system for responding to reports of elder abuse

Minnesota Senate committee chair says too many reports of abuse have "fallen through the cracks."
New Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said her agency is committed to eliminating a giant backlog of unresolved reports of abuse and neglect in senior c

State reports sharp drop in backlog of senior home abuse complaints

Health Dept. greatly accelerated review of outstanding maltreatment allegations.
The idea for a legislative auditor’s review of the Office of Health Facility Complaints came out of some grass-roots efforts by a group of abuse vic

New report to highlight broad failures in state response to elder abuse

Legislative probe uncovered widespread issues that require "immediate action."
Angry residents at Autumn Glen Senior Living in Coon Rapids pushed back against steep rent increases of 15 to 30 percent, which had threatened to upro

After backlash, Minnesota senior facility rescinds huge rent hike

"I think they thought we were old and frail and unable to speak up. But we were very determined to shake people up about this — and we did," said 85-year-old Janet Dahlquist.
Autumn Glen residents, including Bill Erickson, left, and Jim Nauman, who both use motorized scooters, gathered to talk about their fears for the futu

Minn. senior community fights 'astronomical' rent increases

Minnesota, like a handful of other states, does not license assisted-living facilities, which means that residents generally have no more rights and protections than renters in an ordinary apartment building.
Jan Malcolm in 2011.

New Minn. Health Dept. leader pledges to make fight vs. elder abuse a priority

Gov. Dayton has appointed former Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm to lead the Health Department, following highly publicized reports of breakdowns in senior home regulation.
Patrick Arthur Jansen, 58, an overnight staff member at a Sauk Rapids group home, has been charged with assaulting two female clients with disabilitie

Two young women with disabilities sexually assaulted at Sauk Rapids group home

A male caregiver who worked the overnight shift at a Sauk Rapids group home has been charged with sexually assaulting two female residents who were unable to report the assaults because of their disabilities.
Kristine Sundberg, president of Elder Voice Family Advocates, called for broad-based reforms to the state’s system for handling elder abuse complain

Task force:'Dramatic' reforms needed to end abuse in senior homes

Consumer work group was commissioned by Dayton in wake of Star Tribune probe.
The corporate office of Ebenezer Care in Minneapolis.

Orono senior home cited in death of woman found 10 hours after fall

The woman died a few weeks after being left on the floor for 10 hours.
Thomas Duvall was convicted of a series of brutal rapes of teenage girls in the 1970s and has admitted to more than 60 victims.

State and county officials challenge plans to release serial rapist Duvall

State agency, prosecutors say Thomas Duvall is still fixated on violence.
A dozen sex offenders remain stuck at the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP), in part because state officials have nowhere to send them amid a flur

3 Minnesota sex offenders fight city ordinance that essentially bans them

Offenders have been cleared for release but the city of Dayton's ordinance is so restrictive that they have nowhere to go, lawsuit says.
Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper

Minnesota officials detail backlog of elder abuse cases

Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper said a team of state officials is sorting through more than 2,300 reports of maltreatment in senior homes.
Oxycodone-acetaminophen pills.

Opioid crisis putting strain on Minnesota's child protection setup

Parental drug abuse forces thousands into foster care.
An order to release serial rapist Thomas Duvall, who left court last April, has met fierce opposition from his victims.

Prospect of Minnesota serial rapist's release is met with fear and anger

Nearly 1,000 people have signed petition in less than 2 weeks.
“Frances was a giant in the Indian community here.’’ — Clyde Bellecourt

Frances Fairbanks, who helped co-found AIM, dies at 88

Frances G. Fairbanks, who rescued the Minneapolis American Indian Center (MAIC) from financial straits in the 1980s and became an unrelenting advocate for Indian causes for nearly 40 years, died in October at a nursing home in south Minneapolis. She was 88.
Thomas Duvall left the Dakota County Judicial Center in Hastings in April.

Serial rapist cleared for release from sex offender program

Thomas Duvall, who was locked up for 30 years for violent rapes of teenage girls in the 1970s and 1980s, is now contrite, a panel of Minnesota judges ruled.
Dan Pollock, who took over as Minnesota’s acting health commissioner last month, plans to double the number of staff devoted to investigating maltre

Trump policy shift endangers Minnesota's crackdown on elder abuse

New directives call for rolling back federal penalties on nursing homes violating health and safety rules.
The Kateri Residence, which provides temporary housing for American Indian women recovering from addiction, is slated to close by July of this year.

Savior emerges for Mpls. home serving Indian women struggling with addiction

Indian women's group says center "can't go away."
Cora Mustin played with her 15-year-old autistic son, Jordan. He gets coordinated care at a People Inc. holistic clinic.

'One-stop shopping' model gets mental health care to thousands

If current trends continue, officials estimate more than 15,000 patients will be served by July, for one of the broadest expansions of the state's community mental health system in years.
Jo Ann Johnson,59, has been staying at Simpson United Methodist Church's 66-bed shelter for the past eight months. She lost her husband Gary a year ag

With major gift, homeless shelter dares to 'dream big' about future

For 35 years, the basement of Simpson United Methodist Church in the Whittier neighborhood of south Minneapolis has served as a much-needed sanctuary for people experiencing the trauma and stress of homelessness.
New acting Minn. health chief pledges tough action on elder abuse investigations

New acting Minn. health chief pledges tough action on elder abuse investigations

Days into new job, Dan Pollock pledges major reforms to Department of Health's policing of elder abuse.
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