A woman with severe intellectual and physical disabilities was sexually assaulted by a male caregiver who worked the overnight shift at a group home in Little Canada, the second such incident this year, according to state and police records.
Patrick Daniel Hackman, 27, of St. Paul, admitted to police that early in the morning on March 7, he went into the woman's bedroom in the group home, rolled her onto her stomach on her bed, and then repeatedly raped her, according to a criminal complaint filed in Ramsey County District Court.
A female staff member at the group home, which is operated by Northeast Residence, Inc., reported her concerns after she arrived at work to find the victim, who has quadriplegia and is nonverbal, naked in the group home's bathroom. The staff member noticed what appeared to be semen on the woman's inner thigh.
Hackman initially denied assaulting the woman. The next day, however, Hackman attempted suicide and was taken to Regions Hospital in St. Paul; while there, he confessed to investigators that he crawled on top of the woman and penetrated her and fondled her breasts. "[Hackman] stated that during the incident, [the victim] tried fighting and resisting him by recoiling," the criminal complaint said.
It remains unclear if Hackman had abused the resident previously — in large part because group home staff did not immediately report their concerns as required under Minnesota's vulnerable adult law.
According to the criminal complaint, staff members first became suspicious of Hackman in mid-February, weeks before the alleged assault, after a female staff member noticed him entering the victim's room and closing the door. He would remain in the woman's room with the door closed for about 45 minutes, which staff found "highly unusual," the criminal complaint said. When confronted about the incident, Hackman said he was trying to wake the woman, according to the criminal complaint.
Even later, when the female employee found what appeared to be semen on the victim's body, she did not immediately report her concerns. Instead, she cleaned it up, took a picture of the disposable wipe and threw it in the garbage, potentially destroying critical evidence. It was not until the following morning that the employee told a supervisory staff person about what she had found, according to an investigation by the Minnesota Department of Human Services.
A sexual assault examination at Regions Hospital later determined that the woman had multiple injuries consistent with a sexual assault. The victim, who is 27, was not identified in the police and state reports.
A spokesman for Northeast Residence, a nonprofit based in White Bear Lake that operates 25 group homes in the Twin Cities metro area, said the organization has retrained its staff on policies and procedures regarding reporting suspected maltreatment. "Northeast Residence, Inc. has a 'zero-tolerance' policy on abuse and misconduct, and remain committed to ensure our residents have a safe and protective environment every day," the spokesman said in a written statement.
This marks the second time this year that a male caregiver in a state-licensed group home has been charged with sexually assaulting vulnerable women. In January, a 58-year-old caregiver, Patrick Arthur Jansen, admitted that he assaulted two female residents at a Sauk Rapids group home "to make them happy" and "enrich their lives." Police who interviewed Jansen later determined that the two women, both 20, could have been victimized "as many as 300 times," according to a state investigation.
In both assault cases, the male caregivers worked the overnight shift, which is when group home residents are particularly vulnerable, according to Roberta Opheim, the state ombudsman for mental health and developmental disabilities.
More than 14,000 Minnesotans live in group homes similar to the ones where the recent assaults occurred, she noted. These homes typically employ just one person during the overnight shift, and they have little way of knowing whether the worker is abusing any residents, she said.
"When residents are alone and sleeping, that is by far their most vulnerable time," Opheim said. "Group homes need to be far more sensitive to this fact and schedule staffing to minimize this kind of horrific occurrence."
Hackman has been charged with one felony count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct of a victim who is mentally impaired or physically helpless. He also has been disqualified by the Department of Human Services from direct contact with vulnerable persons receiving services from state social service agencies.