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Major problems found at group home after special needs resident allegedly beaten, sexually assaulted

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BATON ROUGE - The Louisiana Department of Health launched an investigation into a local group home after a Livingston Parish resident was left with a broken nose and urinated on by another resident. The investigation revealed at least 13 deficiencies that needed an immediate correction, according to the 67-page report the WBRZ Investigative Unit obtained.

Caleb Sharp, 22, has a chromosomal anomaly which requires him to depend on adults for care. Sharp was staying in a group home in Ponchatoula when things went wrong this year, according to his mother.

"Caleb was lying in his bed, and [another resident] was instructed by another worker to urinate on Caleb while he was lying in his bed," Jessica Mitchell said.

Mitchell took Caleb home and immediately called a meeting with administrators.

"After that meeting, Caleb came home and lived with me for about a week," Mitchell recalled. "He went back to the group home. When he went back, that's when the horror story began."

The horror Mitchell refers to is documented in pictures that show her son beaten and bloodied.

"First we called the police," Mitchell said. "A deputy came out and said because of the circumstances he was not able to do anything at that point. He took my husband's statement and left."

Mitchell also filed complaints with the State Department of Health, which launched an investigation into the group home and found 13 major problems. The 67-page report notes the facility failed to protect clients from physical and psychological abuse, neglected to seek medical treatment after the incidents, and found the facility couldn't provide evidence that the abuse was thoroughly investigated.

"I gave them my child to take care of, and the opposite happened," Mitchell said. "This needs to stop. They need to be held accountable for what they've done and what they've allowed to happen."

Last month, Mitchell sued Rescare and the workers responsible for what happened to Caleb alleging Rescare employees directed people in the house to physically beat, sexually assault, taunt and psychologically abuse him, as well as urinate on him and his belongings.

"This instance has set Caleb back and his family back," Mitchell's attorney Scott Mansfield said. "It has thrown their world off and thrown a wrench in their daily lives, and it needs to be addressed by Rescare. "

Mansfield said Rescare has a history of doing this across the country which results in big problems for residents.

"Rescare is responsible for hiring qualified employees and training them to care for people with special needs," Mansfield said. "Rescare hires unqualified workers and families trust these people to care for their loved ones with special needs and Rescare has failed them."

Attempts to reach people at the group home were unsuccessful. Knocks at the door went unanswered.

A spokesperson for Rescare released the following statement, "It is Rescare's policy not to comment on pending litigation."

Meanwhile, Mitchell said Caleb is back at home. She wants her fun-loving son back.

"I don't want another family or another special needs adult to have to go through what Caleb's gone through and what our family has gone through," Mitchell said.

The WBRZ Investigative Unit obtained job listings for Rescare and the listings indicate applicants need no formal skills or training. According to Rescare, it operates in 42 states, Canada, and Puerto Rico.

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