Arrest made in juvenile assault

Resident at state center hurt in June

Staff WriterJanuary 21, 2009 

— An employee at a state home for the developmentally disabled was arrested on abuse charges last week following the restraint of a child in June that resulted in injuries.

Jo'Von Dixon, 31, an employee at the Murdoch Center in Butner, is charged with felony assault on a handicapped person. According to the arrest warrant, Dixon used an excessive amount of force June 19 to restrain a juvenile resident, resulting in "contusions and abrasions to the left and right sides of his face and behind his ear."

Dixon, who has worked for the state since 2004, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

A second Murdoch employee, Edgar Bernard Royster, 51, also was charged with felony assault as a result of the same incident. Royster resigned his state job July 12 and pleaded guilty to a lesser misdemeanor charge Oct. 15, according to court records.

At the time of the incident, Dixon was a youth programming assistant at the center. State personnel records show he is now a housekeeper earning $27,355 a year, a $4,103 pay cut from his former position.

Mark Van Sciver, spokesman for the state Department of Health and Human Services, said he could not comment on the pending charge. He noted, however, that in his new position, Dixon is not left unsupervised around the disabled residents.

The case against Dixon and Royster is being handled by a special prosecutor with the state Attorney General's Office, which has stepped up its involvement with criminal cases against employees of state institutions accused of abusing patients.

As part of an investigative series printed in March, The News & Observer found that internal hospital investigations had determined 192 state employees had abused, neglected or stolen from patients in government-run institutions since 2001.

Though most lost their jobs, less than 13 percent were charged with a crime. Convictions were rarer still.

Earlier this month, a special prosecutor filed felony charges against three fired Cherry Hospital health-care technicians -- Billy Gerald Wynn Jr., Eric Jerrod Isler and James A. Smith. The former state workers are accused of severely beating a patient at the Goldsboro mental institution in 2006.

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