A former employee of the South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs (SCDDSN) has been charged with assault in connection with an alleged attack against a patient at the agency’s coastal regional center in Summerville, S.C.
Cicely Anjenet Gillispie, 50, of North Charleston, S.C. was arrested this week by agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and charged with third degree assault and battery in connection with an incident that allegedly took place on April 16, 2023 at the regional center.
According to a probable cause affidavit accompanying a warrant for her arrest, Gillispie “did punch the victim in the face and head twice with a closed fist.”
“The victim is a patient at coastal regional center and is a vulnerable adult,” the affidavit continued. “These allegations were corroborated through interviews, surveillance videos and information provided to (SLED).”
According to a statement from SCDDSN, “the facility administrator contacted SLED to report an allegation of physical abuse by a staff member after reviewing the video footage of the incident.”
The statement did not identify Gillispie by name, but stated the staff member “was immediately removed from the regional center, placed on administration leave without pay and subsequently terminated on April 28, 2023.”
“SCDDSN is grateful to SLED for its swift and thorough review of the allegation, and for its due diligence with this case,” the statement continued. “SCDDSN is very committed to ensuring individuals in our care are safe, respected and treated with compassion by all employees. SCDDSN has zero tolerance for anyone who abuses, mistreats or neglects the individuals we serve.”
Rhetoric notwithstanding, this agency has been a disaster zone in recent years.
“SCDDSN is emblematic of the Palmetto State’s unaccountable, duplicative and ineffective bureaucratic approach to public health,” I wrote in the fall of 2017 when the agency’s previous director, Beverly Buscemi, resigned her post.
Buscemi stepped down after reporter Tim Smith of The Greenville News uncovered “a troubling record of resident deaths, staff arrests, lawsuits and allegations of abuse and neglect” at the agency.
The agency appeared to be enjoying a remarkable turnaround thanks to the efforts of Dr. Michelle Fry – who took over as state director on October 11, 2021. Unfortunately, Fry stepped down from her role back in December.
As with anyone accused of committing any crime, Gillispie is considered innocent until proven guilty by our criminal justice system – or until such time as she may wish to enter some form of allocution in connection with a plea agreement with prosecutors related to the charge filed against her.
Her case will be prosecuted by the office of S.C. first circuit solicitor David Pascoe.
Here is the release from SLED which contained a copy of the arrest warrants …
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
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