State dumps sex offender on Minneapolis street corner

  • Article by: PAUL MCENROE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 6, 2013 - 7:04 AM

Star Tribune exclusive: Bureaucratic lapse led to the man’s release from St. Peter psychiatric security hospital.

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Pexton Hall is the treatment facility in St. Peter where peopole committed to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program are held.

Photo: JIM GEHRZ• jim.gehrz @ startribune.com,

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A psychiatric patient with a history of violence and sex offenses was released from the Minnesota Security Hospital last week because of a bureaucratic lapse by medical staff, then dropped off on a Minneapolis street corner after two security officers did not deliver him to the right homeless shelter.

In a series of critical mistakes, Raymond Traylor, 23, was discharged from the St. Peter facility because medical staff missed a deadline to file his required 60-day progress report with a Hennepin County judge, according to documents obtained by the Star Tribune.

Then, upon discharge, Traylor was driven to Minneapolis and dropped a quarter mile from the all-male shelter that was selected to care for him. He wound up instead near the Salvation Army’s Harbor Light Center for men and women.

Hennepin County prosecutors, who handled Traylor’s court case last spring, said they found the incident alarming.

Traylor “poses a danger not only to the public but also to himself … Four months into what would have been a six-month, potentially renewable, commitment, Mr. Traylor is again on the streets of Minneapolis because someone did not do their job,” the county attorney’s office said in a statement Monday.

State hospital officials insisted that Traylor is not dangerous and that his violent behavior — deputies found it necessary to shackle him during a court appearance last spring — was brought under control through court-ordered treatment.

Still, state officials acknowledged that planning for Traylor’s release was bungled.

The episode underscores a continuing pattern of management breakdowns at the state’s largest psychiatric facility, which houses nearly 400 of Minnesota’s most dangerous psychiatric patients.

“This kind of situation shows there’s a real serious gap in coordination and planning on the part of the state’s mental health system,” said Salvation Army envoy Bill Miller. “They just dropped him off, it turns out, without telling us anything. No safety net.”

Traylor, a registered sex offender who was charged earlier this year with assault and trespassing, has a long juvenile and adult criminal record and a history of heavy drug use. In, 2002 he was convicted as a juvenile for sexually assaulting his siblings.

When interviewed by a reporter last week, Traylor appeared stable and coherent.

“I wasn’t afraid when they dropped me off, but I did feel like I was vulnerable … they dropped me with my two bags, around the corner, and wished me good luck,” Traylor recalled. “I’ve been trying to get help all week.”

At the St. Peter facility, Traylor was under the care of Dr. Steven Pratt, the hospital’s medical director, who was involved in planning Traylor’s care after release, according to a document obtained by the Star Tribune. Pratt declined an interview request.

Traylor arrived at the security hospital in April under an emergency transfer from a regional treatment center in Anoka, where he bit two staff members, groped female employees and started fights with other patients. He was placed in a unit that treats the most violent patients, and no female staff were allowed in his area.

Citing the resistant nature of Traylor’s illness and “his extreme aggression,” a doctor asked court permission to treat Traylor with “as many medications as possible.”

Then, just two weeks later, the doctor petitioned the court for authority to administer electroshock therapy because “medications alone are ineffective,” records show. Hennepin County Judge Jamie Anderson approved the request.

Hospital staff, however, missed a subsequent deadline to evaluate Traylor and submit the required report to the judge.

“As you know, there was a 60/90 day report that didn’t get onto the calendar, which allowed Mr. Traylor’s commitment to end,” a hospital social worker wrote in an e-mail obtained by the Star Tribune. “Currently he does not have anywhere he can go and plans to reside at a homeless shelter. We will attempt to get him connected to a psychiatrist and ensure that his medication needs are met.”

‘Staff did not follow through’

Asked last week about the case, state officials said Traylor was dropped at an emergency shelter operated by Catholic Charities. But after the newspaper informed them there was no record of Traylor arriving at the shelter, officials issued a statement admitting his aftercare programming had fallen apart within hours of his release.

“Staff did not follow through,” the agency wrote. “Clients typically don’t go to homeless shelters because there is more time to arrange placements. The missed report in this case left little time to make those arrangements.”

It also appears that hospital officials failed to confirm Traylor’s care with Hennepin County; the caseworker assigned to his case was on vacation until mid-August, according to a message on his phone voice-mail.

Shelter reconsiders

Left on a street corner, Traylor tried to find a bed at the Harbor Light Center, where he had stayed before. Initially, he was denied entrance because his violent behavior had caused the shelter to issue a no-tresspass order against him some months earlier. But shelter officials reconsidered after meeting with Traylor and learning that he had been dropped off with no security plan in place.

The Salvation Army’s Miller said the shelter has now assigned a caseworker to Traylor to ensure he remains safe and gets his medications from the Hennepin County Medical Center. The shelter will also help Traylor find long-term housing, Miller said.

State officials acknowledged serious errors leading up to Traylor’s discharge, but deflected further responsibility — saying aftercare was largely the responsibility of Hennepin County caseworkers who had been alerted that Traylor was leaving the St. Peter facility.

Anne Barry, deputy commissioner of the Human Services Department, said the hospital should not have missed the deadline to file a progress report on Traylor, the breakdown that triggered his release. “It shouldn’t have fallen between the cracks, and as a result it didn’t get on the court calendar,” Barry said.

Still, she said the state does not consider Traylor a danger to the public if he is under care.

“If we thought there was a risk, if he was dangerous, we would’ve asked that he be recommitted,” she said. “This is the first time I’ve seen this happen since I’ve been here.”

 

Paul McEnroe• 612-673-1745

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