OSIG releases Deeds stabbing report
Morehart shows policy, individual failings contributed
The Office of the State Inspector General and State Inspector General Michael Morehart released a report Thursday, having completed an investigation of the stabbing of Sen. Creigh Deeds at his home last November.
The report was released following Bath County Commonwealth’s Attorney John Singleton’s decision against “[initiating] a criminal prosecution.” Singleton sent a letter to the State Police Department Wednesday explaining his decision.
“We just didn’t think there was enough evidence to support a criminal prosecution,” Singleton said.
Morehart could not be reached for comment, but the report details the events leading up to the attack on Deeds by his son Gus Nov. 19.
Gus Deeds was taken into custody for psychiatric help Nov. 18 after being issued an Emergency Custody Order, but was ultimately released after the “expiration of the ECO,” when the “community services board (CSB) evaluator was unable to locate a psychiatric facility willing to admit the individual” within the six-hour ECO time limit stipulated by law, according to the report.
Hours after the expiration, Gus Deeds attacked his father and took his own life.
According to the report, a “lack of ECO notification protocols among the Rockbridge Area Community Services (RACS), Bath Community Hospital (BCH), and Bath County Sheriff’s Office, combined with the travel times required for a rural area in Virginia truncated the preadmission screening process from six hours to three hours and 15 minutes,” leaving the CSB evaluator with half as much time to assess Deeds’ son and find a psychiatric facility with open beds.
The report primarily focuses on the ineffectiveness of a six-hour emergency custody window and said “the Commonwealth’s maximum six-hour time limit for ECOs is the shortest in the nation.”
The investigation also sought to identify other “contributing factors” to the problem, including the preadmission evaluation process and the Commonwealth’s emergency response system.
After Deeds’ son was taken into custody and a CSB evaluator “determined hospitalization was necessary,” the evaluator claimed to have contacted 10 private facilities in order to locate open beds. However, the OSIG was only able to the confirm the evaluator had contacted seven of the 10 facilities and “found no evidence to support the CSB evaluator’s contact with the remaining three facilities.” Two of the three facilities reported to the OSIG that they had open beds on the day of the incident.
The report criticized the emergency response system, citing that “Report No. 206-11 and the UVA Face-to-Face Emergency Evaluation study have confirmed that people meeting Temporary Detention Order (TDO) criteria have been denied the clinically indicated level of care because a bed could not be located, or because a bed could not be located within the maximum ECO time limit.”
The OSIG also provided recommendations in the report for improving the state’s mental health system. These included establishing a web-based psychiatric bed registry, increasing coordination between CSBs, law enforcement and TDO assessment sites and setting standards of practice for CSB evaluators.
The General Assembly passed legislation earlier this year to extend the time limit to 12 hours for ECOs. While Sen. Deeds originally proposed a 24-hour time limit, approved by the Senate, the assembly reached compromise of 12 hours. The legislation also extended the time a person could be involuntarily held under a TDO from eight hours to 72 hours.
Though Sen. Deeds’ office was contacted for an interview, a representative said that Deeds would not be releasing any statements regarding the incident or the surrounding investigations.