GLENWOOD — Public funds were used to pay for items involved in a program of human experimentation at the Glenwood Resource Center, and many of the top officials in charge of the facility knew about it, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court Tuesday.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of former employees at the facility, including a nurse practitioner, the former Director of Quality Management, a former employee and guardian for two patients at the center, and a physician who used to work at the facility.
The defendants are former DHS Director Jerry Foxhoven; former Glenwood Resource Center superintendent Jerry Rea; dormer Director of the state Department of Human Services’ Division of Mental Health and Disability Services Richard Shults; Mohamman Rehman, Medical Director of GRC; the Department of Human Services, and the Glenwood Resource Center.
Glenwood Resource Center is the subject of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice after allegations surfaced over human experimentation on patients at the facility. More than 2000 Iowans with intellectual and physical disabilities reside at the facility. They rely on the medical and other professionals at Glenwood for their health and other needs.
According to the lawsuit, things at the facility took a different turn when Jerry Rea was hired as the superintendent in 2017. One of the first things he did, according to the lawsuit, was use $60,000 in public funds to renovate his residence on the Glenwood grounds. He also “diverted the entire maintenance team from their regular GRC duties, which included maintaining safe, sanitary and habitable homes and grounds from GRC’s vulnerable patients…”
Rea allegedly began dismantling the protective structures designed and implemented through the DOJ Consent Decree and DHS Manual when he took on the job, and began to turn Glenwood into “a research facility.”
App users can read the full lawsuit here
In 2017, Rea, along with the others named in the lawsuit who worked for the Department of Human Services and at Glenwood, “sought to transform GRC from a facility focused on patient care, into a research facility to further Defendent Rea’s long-standing interest in clinical research involving sexual arousal and sexual deviancy… they intended to use, and did use, highly vulnerable GRC patients as the subjects, or “guinea pigs” in research experiments.”
In support of this endeavor, Rea and others in the lawsuit are accused of purchasing silk sheet or silk boxer shorts, sexual lubricants, stock photos of porn, and a dedicated computer, software program, and joystick for the sole purpose of Rea’s research.
“The Department is not going to comment on pending litigation, but DHS is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of those we serve, and our employees,” Iowa DHS spokesperson Matt Highland said in a statement. “We continue to take all necessary action to address all allegations.”
According to the lawsuit, none of the Glenwood patients gave consent to being subjects in the experiments. Some of them would have their prescribed medications changed during the research activities, according to the lawsuit.
When the plaintiffs in the lawsuit spoke up, they allege in the lawsuit, they were “silenced” and removed from their positions, as well as were exposed to a toxic and hostile work environment.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are suing the defendants for wrongful termination, violation of the whistleblower law, conspiracy to violate civil rights, and violation of civil rights.