Local News

Allegations Surface Against Dorothea Dix Employees

Posted September 15, 2004

— A state mental health employee is charged with taking indecent liberties with a patient. His arrest is not the only trouble Dorothea Dix has had recently with employees and young patients.

Dorothea Dix Mental Hospital said it took action when allegations surfaced about the inappropriate behavior of an employee with a young patient.

Otis Simmons Jr., 26, of Goldsboro, was arrested and charged with taking indecent liberties with a minor in his care. The arrest warrant says the victim is a 15-year-old. The incident happened between June 14 and June 22.

Simmons was placed on unpaid leave from his job as a health care technician in August, which was 2-1/2 weeks after his arrest. He resigned last week.

It is the third arrest Dorothea Dix police have made in the last few months involving employees and children. In May, two other health care technicians were arrested and charged with child abuse.

William Hahn and Robert Barney were both arrested on May 11. The warrant says Hahn did "grab and throw" a child in his care. Barney is accused of "punching" another child "in the face with his fists."

A hospital representative said Dorothea Dix has a zero-tolerance policy that allows the legal system to run its course. Hahn has since resigned. Barney was allowed to come back to work pending trial. He is now assigned to an adult unit.

The hospital said the three cases are not related and there is not a systemic problem.

Dorothea Dix employs approximately 360 health care technicians who assist in patient care. Criminal background checks are conducted.

In the adolescent unit, male techs work with male patients. Female technicians are only allowed to work with female patients. The hospital director told WRAL there was a clear violation of that policy in the most recent case.

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